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Book Summary – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Book summary

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey presents a holistic and principle-centered approach to achieve success through positive change from within. Covey’s 7 habits are defined based on a review of some 200 years of success literature, and his ideas still form the foundation for many personal development books and programs today. In this free version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary, we’ll outline the 7 habits and explain various powerful management and productivity tools from this book.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary - book summary bundle

Do check out our full book summary bundle in text, graphic and audio formats for more detail!

Fundamental Change from Inside Out

To become more effective, you need to increase your Production (of desired results) and Production Capacity (the capacity to deliver such results). A central idea of his book is to improve P/ PC from “inside-out”, i.e. start with change within oneself. This goes beyond merely improving one’s skills or knowledge, but deals fundamentally with who you are, or who you become as an individual.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary_change from inside-out
The habits are progressive in nature, though there’s no need to perfect one habit before moving on to the next. Each habit sets the foundation for the next level:The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary_progression
Dependence => Independence: Habits 1-3 provide your “Private Victories” as you develop your character and self-mastery.
Independence => Interdependence: Habits 4-6 shift how you interact with others, to form trusting relationships with healthy emotional bank accounts. These are your “Public Victories.”
Renewal: Habit 7 creates an upward growth spiral as you continually renew and grow yourself and hone the 6 previous habits.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Here’s an overview of the seven habits. Please refer our full version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary (get full 9-page summary here) for more details.


This essentially means to take full responsibility for your lives and choices. To be proactive, you should take the initiative, choose proactive language and focus on your Circle of Influence.


This is the habit of personal leadership. It is about having a clear vision in your mind on your end destination and goals. This is important because everything happens first in your mind before becoming reality in the physical form. To get started, you’ll need to start by examining your center and developing your personal mission statement.


With clear priorities identified and created mentally (Habit 2) , you move into the habit of personal-management. This is where you exercise willpower and discipline, to organise and implement activities that translate your goals into reality. Covey shares the time-management matrix and hhow to effectively manage your time using 6 key principles.


This is the habit of interpersonal relationship. Win-win is a mind-set and philosophy built on an approach of achieving mutual benefit for the parties involved. Where a win-win solution cannot be reached, consider agreeing to disagree amicably, rather than “force” a deal. Check out the 5 dimensions to achieve win-win highlighted in the book.


This is the habit of communication, and it is built on emphatic listening. Emphatic listening represents an entire paradigm shift because it is not about applying listening skills, but “listening with intent to understand”. This is opposed to how most people listen – with the intent to speak or respond; They are still in their own frame of reference, not that of the other person’s.


This is the habit of creative co-operation, where “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It’s about acknowledging that people are all ‘correct’ in their different perspectives, and are prepared to “value this difference”, you gain new knowledge and understanding of reality, and open up Third Alternatives.


This is the habit of self-renewal, and has a synergistic impact on all the other habits. All 4 key dimensions – Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Social/Emotional – are interrelated and must be renewed in a balanced way. In fact, when we sharpen the saw in any one dimension, it creates positive synergistic effects on the other dimensions and all seven habits.

Get more details from the book or our full 9-page book summary now!

In a separate book, Covey goes beyond the 7 habits of highly effective people to explain The 8th Habit which brings you beyond effectiveness to greatness (read The 8th Habit summary here)

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One Comment

  • Manas Pruthi says:

    Stephen had a tremendous impact not only on my life but through me, on the lives of those I had the privilege to lead. It started indirectly, when, after a period of reflection and tough going I discovered the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The overall approach of private victory then public victory, describing our growth as proceeding from dependence through independence to interdependence struck me as incredibly simple yet powerful. I applied what I learned to my life immediately.

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