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Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey


I just wrapped up The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I’m finally crossing off books that have been recommended to me several years ago. This was one of those books that I had already heard so much about, especially given my highly habitual life.

The book centers around 7 habits that Covey covers:
  • Be proactive.
  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • Put first things first.
  • Think win-win.
  • Seek to understand, then to be understood.
  • Synergize.
  • Sharpen the saw.
The first three habits are focused around the self while habits 4-6 are about the external relations. The last habit is about constant improvement. 

What makes Covey’s book easy to understand and approachable are the real-world examples and applicability to everyday life. I won’t go into detail about each of the habits. However, I will say that each habit is a constant practice for me which makes sense given Covey’s message.

Of the habits, the most difficult for me are seeking to understand and thinking win-win. Too often we hear the saying that we have two ears and one mouth – pointing to the importance for active listening and focusing on the speaker, not of how we should respond or navigate the conversation to fit our own motives. Personally, I can be highly impulsive and want to jump into conversations quickly. As a sales person, this is a well-known problem. It’s akin to pitching without knowing or understand the needs of the customer.

The second habit I know I struggle with is to think win-win. Admittedly, I do struggle with looking for winning scenarios for other parties, not just myself. This is a key to the negotiating text Getting to Yes – while focusing on interests, not positions. My default thinking is to win regardless of other parties. I want to point to my competitiveness to want to be the best. However, it’s most likely just my own selfishness and ego. Maybe it’s all the same.

I believe I have very strong locus of control when it comes to my internal drivers. This also fits well with seventh habit of always sharpening the saw – always improving. In fact, Covey touches on, in particular, the importance of physical health and exercise. This is one of the most important areas of my life. As an extrovert, continuing to develop my external-facing habits is critical for continued success. Covey reiterates over and over again how society is beyond independent people. Instead, it’s about society –interdependence. We rely on relationships to build and succeed.

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