The 3rd Alternative PDF Summary

The 3rd Alternative PDF SummarySolving Life’s Most Difficult Problems

Stuck in a “fight or flight” mentality ever since the days of the Neanderthals and unable to break free?

Well, Stephen Covey says that there’s an alternative to these two options.

It’s “The 3rd Alternative” – and it’s a way of life.

And it can help you solve life’s most difficult problems.

Who Should Read “The 3rd Alternative”? And Why?

We’ve already told you a lot about Stephen R. Covey, and, if you have to take one thing from it all, it’s probably this: he was much too prominent and respected self-help thinker and educator for you to need a special reason to read any of his books.

However, if you’ve never read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” we advise you to read that one before you delve into “The 3rd Alternative.”

If you are one of the millions and millions of people who have bought and read Stephen Covey’s masterpiece, then you need no further recommendation than this: “3rd Alternative” develops further the fifth and sixth habit first presented in that book.

And Covey considered it an essential addition.

About Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey was an American writerStephen Covey, educator, and businessman, named by “Time” magazine one of the “25 Most Influential Americans” back in 1996, and still – half a decade after his death – one of the Top 3 most popular self-help authors according to Amazon.

He rose to fame with “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a book “Forbes” magazine recently named one of the 10 best business books in history.

Many books followed, among them “First Things First” (co-authored with Roger and Rebecca Merrill), “Principle-Centered Leadership” and “The 8th Habit.”

After a cycling accident, Stephen Covey passed away on July 16, 2012, at the age of 79.

“The 3rd Alternative PDF Summary”

The 3rd Alternative” was published in 2011; and, unfortunately, it ended up being Stephen Covey’s last book.

However, it is a fitting end to a remarkable life: a 500-page testimonial which spends about a fifth of its pages defining and explaining the 3rd alternative into detail, and then moves on to explore its practical applications at work, at home, at school, in law, in society, and in the world.

Early in the second – longest and most important – chapter (alliteratively titled “The 3rd Alternative: The Principle, Paradigm, and Process of Synergy”), Covey makes his intentions and goals clear:

“There is a way to solve the toughest problems we face, even those that look unsolvable,” he writes. “There is a path that cuts through nearly all life’s dilemmas and deep divisions. There is a way forward. It’s not your way, and it’s not my way. It’s a higher way. It’s a better way than any of us have thought of before. I call it ‘the 3rd Alternative’.”

In a nutshell, what this Hegelian logic tries to tell us is quite straightforward.

Namely, that most conflicts have two sides and that neither of them is the right one. Not because they are both wrong, but, quite contrary, because they both have inherent merits.

Compromising makes both sides lose. And as Michael Scott taught us once, it is not ideal:

Synergizing – i.e., the 3rd alternative – has the opposite effect. It’s a win-win situation because it’s the higher way, the synthesis of two opposing theses, which doesn’t work merely as a compromise, but also as a mind-widening solution which transcends the needs of the “I” and “You.”

If you remember well, synergize was the sixth of Covey’s original seven habits of highly efficient people. And, in fact, “The 3rd Alternative” is a detailed look at it and its related habits from the “Interdependence” spectrum: “think win-win” and “seek first to understand than to be understood.”

To acquire a 3rd alternative mind mode, you need to learn to apply four thinking paradigms.

Let’s have a look at each of them.

Paradigm 1: I See Myself

This is the obvious foundation of every proper thinking process.

That is, practicing the Ancient Greek art of knowing thyself.

Because once you step outside of the boundaries of your limitations and ego, you achieve a small “private victory” which will help you understand the needs of the other and the real problem behind the lack of solution.

Which brings us to –

Paradigm 2: I See You

Now that you’ve understood your side of the story for yourself try doing the same with the story of the one you have a conflict with.

Step outside your shoes and into the shoes of the other.

Now you’re ready for –

Paradigm 3: I Seek You Out

This is Covey’s final extrapolation and clarification of the “seek first to understand than to be understood” habit – which he mentions that had had the most significant impact on his life out of all seven (and, later on, eight) habits.

The trick is simple:

Don’t expect the others to understand you if you don’t put the effort to understand them first.

Once you do that – you’re ready for the magic, the miracle of synergy!

Paradigm 4: I Synergize with You

This is, obviously, the longest and most important part of the 4-step process towards synergizing. And is, in fact, split into four processes itself.

1. Ask the 3rd Alternative Question

Covey says it’s revolutionary since it doesn’t ask anyone to give up his idea; it merely asks the other to check if his approach is the best one.

And the question?

Here it is:

“Are you willing to go for a solution that is better than any of us have come up with yet?“

2. Define Criteria of Success

This part starts with a question itself: “What would better look like?”

The idea?

To come up with a clear vision of what’s to follow, criteria which will satisfy both parties in the discussion.

3. Create 3rd Alternatives

During this part, you and your partner turn the thinking process upside down, creating prototypes, brainstorming new frameworks, and, most importantly, suspending judgment for a while.

The trick?

Experimenting with radical possibilities.

Because, after all, they are the ones we see the least.

4. Arrive at Synergy

It’s easy from thereon.

Because some of these solutions will be the 3rd alternative.

And it will incorporate the best from both worlds, making both sides happy and content.

Key Lessons from “The 3rd Alternative”

1.      Paradigm 1: I See Myself
2.      Paradigm 2: I See You
3.      Paradigm 3: I Seek You Out
4.      Paradigm 4: I Synergize with You

Paradigm 1: I See Myself

Conflict resolution shouldn’t be about compromises. It should be about synergy.

And you can arrive at synergy if you start by trying to find out the limitations and the flaws in your solution. Or, better yet, understand your needs and interests.

At this stage, you need to ask yourself questions such as these:

What’s my story? Do I need to change the script?

1. Where might I have blind spots about myself?
2. How has my cultural programming influenced my thinking?
3. What are my real motives?
4. Are my assumptions accurate?
5. In what way are my assumptions incomplete?
6. Am I contributing to an outcome – an end to the story – that I really want?

Paradigm 2: I See You

Afterward, you need to move on to seeing the other, or, to use an old Roman adage, hearing out the other side as well.

It’s about seeing others as people instead of things.

Which means: see the other in terms of what he actually is, and not in terms of what his age, sex, nationality, religion, sexual orientation influence you to see him.

Paradigm 3: I Seek You Out

“I seek you out” is all about adopting the attitude of “You disagree? I need to listen to you.”

It is the exact opposite of “I defend myself against you.”

In the eyes of someone using thinking paradigm 3, a conflict is not a problem, but an opportunity.

Paradigm 4: I Synergize with You

In paradigm 4, you are able to use that opportunity.

You start by asking the other the 3rd alternative revolutionary question: “Are you willing to go for a solution that is better than any of us have come up with yet?“

Then you move on to defining the criteria which will make both parties happy.

Afterward, you brainstorm radical solutions and check them against the pre-defined criteria.

Finally, you synergize, i.e., you arrive at a solution which transcends compromises and middle grounds.

The higher way.

The “our” way.

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“The 3rd Alternative Quotes”

We hear a lot about identity theft when someone takes your wallet and pretends to be you and uses your credit cards. But the more serious identity theft is to get swallowed up in other people's definition of you. Click To Tweet When man created the mirror, he began to lose his soul. He became more concerned with his image than with his self. Click To Tweet The 3rd Alternative is more than an armistice, and far more than a compromise – it’s about creating a new reality that is better than what’s ‘on the one hand’ or ‘on the other hand.’ Click To Tweet ’Are you willing to go for a solution that is better than either of one has in mind?’ The question changes everything. Click To Tweet 3rd Alternative thinking has to transcend the principle of fairness. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

If you’ve read Covey’s previous books, you’ll find very few original things in “The 3rd Alternative” – speaking on a purely philosophical plane.

However, in terms of applicability and step-by-step guiding manuals – you’ll not be disappointed a bit. “The 3rd Alternative” has them and has them in abundance.

And you’ll certainly profit from using them!

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Stephen R. Covey – A Journey of 100 Steps

In 1996, to the surprise of some, “Time” magazine included Stephen Covey in its annual list of “25 Most Influential Americans.” Two decades later and few years after Covey’s death, it’s obvious that “Time” didn’t make any mistake: Covey’s books are still widely read and loved, with “Forbes” naming “The 7 Habits of Highly Influential People” one of the 10 best business books in history.

So, without further ado –

Who Is Stephen Covey?

Stephen R. CoveyStephen Covey was born on October 24, 1932, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Today we know him and love him as “the herald of good habits” (a phrase borrowed from his “New York Times” obituary), but everything could have been a lot different if Stephen Covey hadn’t contracted slipped capital femoral epiphysis (yes, that’s an actual condition!) in junior high school.

You see, Covey was pretty athletic and wasn’t very interested in an academic career up to this point. But, once his physical condition wouldn’t allow him to focus on sports – he had steel pins implanted in his legs and had to spend three years on crutches – he started reading ferociously and even manage to graduate from high school one year early.

And the books he read the most can be classified into three categories. All of them had a profound impact on his worldview, and one can easily trace the genesis of “The 7 Habits” philosophy into his unique educational path.

Namely, Stephen R. Covey earned a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Utah in 1952, and an MBA from Harvard University five years later. And, like many of us, during these years, he fell in love with Peter Drucker’s works. Back in 1967, the founder of modern management wrote that “effectiveness… is a habit.” Covey will never forget this.

In 1970, Covey got a job as an adjunct professor in the business department at Brigham Young University in Provo. By now already a father of nine children, he would use this occasion to finally complete his doctorate. His subject: “the human side of success in America, as evidenced through ‘success literature’ from 1776 forward.” And that is the second category of books which will profoundly influence Covey. Because during his research, he found out that American self-help books had focused on character building for almost two centuries before the Second World War made them so superficial and insincere.

And Covey didn’t want to be insincere, because he was a devoutly religious person, a life-long member of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Yes – that’s a fancy way of saying that Covey was a Mormon (he was from Utah, after all!) His religious views influenced him so much that Clayton Christensen, a fellow-Mormon and – yes! – the author of this book, once summed up “The 7 Habits” as “essentially a secular distillation of Mormon teaching.”

Four years before he published his most famous book, Covey founded the Covey Leadership Center which will later merge with Franklin Quest to become Franklin Covey, a consultant firm which generates millions of dollars and has advised about 80% of the Fortune 100 companies so far.

In April 2012, Covey was riding his bike down a hill when he suddenly lost control and hit his head on the pavement. Four months later, on July 16, 2012, he passed away at the age of 79.

Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.

Best Stephen Covey Books

#1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Since first being published in 1989, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has reached two milestones which have transformed it from a brilliant self-help book into a historical curiosity. Namely, the book is not only one of the few to sell over 25 million copies of its paperback edition, but it is also the first non-fiction book in history to sell over 1 million copies of its audio version!

But, what made this book so exceptional?

Two things.

First of all, it’s against-the-grain thought model: Covey says that the oft-promoted “personality ethic” is obsolete and that “character ethic” is the new sheriff in town. In other words, you don’t need to be just independent – but interdependent as well.

And secondly, its straightforwardness. What you read in the title, you get in the book. The first three habits delineate Covey’s vision of independence: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. The second three outline his idea of interdependence: think win-win, seek first to understand than to be understood, and synergize. And the last habit is the bridge between these two groups: sharpen the saw, or improve consistently over time.

People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them.

#2. The 8th Habit Summary: From Effectiveness to Greatness.

A quarter of a century after “The 7 Habits of Successful People” was published, Stephen Covey felt that he needed to make an update for the “New Knowledge Worker Age.”

The seven habits aimed to make people highly effective. And judging by the sheer number of sold copies, they did just that for millions. However, in 2005, Covey felt that being effective wasn’t enough anymore. People needed to make a step forward, a stride towards the top, a move from effectiveness to greatness.

The world had changed, and it didn’t ask for merely useful people anymore; now it asked for great people, passionate people living their lives to the full and making significant contributions.

So, if you managed to become a highly effective person in the period between 1989 and 2005, you needed to add one more habit to your store: “The 8th Habit.” Or, in Stephen Covey’s words, you needed to “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

Find out how with this book.

To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.

#3. Principle-Centered Leadership Summary: Give a Man a Fish and You Feed Him for a Day: Teach Him How to Fish and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

If in “The 8th Habit” Covey updated “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, you could argue that in “Principle-Centered Leadership” he moved beyond them. Make no mistakes: they are still there and as important as ever. However, they are also now coupled with four timeless, universal principles: security, guidance, wisdom, and power.

Truth be told, ever since his most famous book, Covey adamantly refused to equate principles and values, claiming that while the former are universal, the latter are subjective. In other words, only principles can be considered a trait of interdependence. And, consequently, only they can help us find some meaning in this world.

“Principle-Centered Leadership” demonstrates how we can apply the four most important principles in our homes and organizations and how, implementing them, may help us become not only more effective but also better people.

Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles; ineffective people attempt to manage their time around priorities and their tasks around goals. Think effectiveness with people; efficiency with things.

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Best Malcolm Gladwell Books

“Stephen Covey Quotes”

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. Click To Tweet Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. Click To Tweet Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. Click To Tweet We live in a shortcut world. Can you imagine a farmer ‘cramming’ in the fall to bring forth the harvest, as students have done, and still do, to pass examinations? Can you imagine a mile runner ‘pretending’ speed and endurance? Click To Tweet Almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

Even half a decade after his death, if you search Amazon for its most popular authors – a list updated on a daily basis –you’ll certainly find Stephen Covey’s name there, probably among the top 10. Currently, he firmly holds the 8th position, above, say, Dr. Seuss and Stephen King!

Needless to add, he is the top-ranked self-help and non-fiction author in Amazon’s history. Do you need anything more to start reading his three best books?

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People PDF Summary

7 habits of highly effective people pdf

How can 7 Habits change your life?

Stephen Covey seems to have the answer to this question. His book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” continues to be a business bestseller.

It was published in the early 90s, and quickly it became one of the best-selling books in those few years.

The readers showed their admiration and appreciation for the book by praising and recommending it to their relatives and friends (word of mouth marketing).

The reason why so many people show their admiration for the content, was because it answered the mundane concerns known to every person.

The summary below brings in the front line the main ideas from the book. Read on if you want to find out by yourself why so many people found this book helpful in changing their lives.

Who Should Read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”? and Why?

“The seven habits of highly effective people” is a book published in the early 90s and not long after that, it became one of the greatest books ever written in that period. They were put on paper after more than 30 years of observation, practice, and study.

When asked how he came up with the idea of the 7 Habits, Stephen Covey admitted that these are like natural laws that he just put together and explained to the people.

One idea that is particularly interesting is the fact that he did not want people to become more successful after reading and implementing the habits. Instead, he tried to define leadership. To build character and thus to become better leaders.

His reasons were not focused on material wealth and success in one’s career. This is more about being a better person in all the fields of your life.

So all of you, read this book, become the best person you can be, and the rest will follow automatically.

About Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey was an American-born businessman, author, motivator, and a speaker that spent almost his entire life in the USA.

He was born back on October 24, 1932, in Salt Lake City, Utah, after a long contribution to society and tremendous career, Covey passed away on July 16, 2012, at the age of 79.

Stephen R. Covey was the vice-chairman of Franklin Covey Corporation and the founder and CEO of his Covey Leadership Center.

He taught students the basics of Principle-Centered Living and Leadership, and above all, he will remain remembered as a writer and an author of several books including “The 7 habits of highly effective people”.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary”

Let’s get these straight, competent people are not the rich ones; they are the ones who never give up. Always seeking ways to improve, always struggling to get to the next level.

Our book summary is only one small portion that indicates why you should become the next “Person” whose actions will create value. For centuries the world demanded such a life-altering masterpiece that finally came.

Sooner or later, you are bound to sorry for something you haven’t done, out of laziness or lack of ambition.

Stephen R. Covey handled the old, moral and ethical traditions that accompanied people for hundreds of years by enforcing a new vision based on ethical and traditional principles. That idea developed a concept which was appropriate to the modern era.

By implementing the seven habits, you will manage to go from a dependent to an independent and finally to an interdependent stage. Independence is not the final line.

Before he unravels the first habit, Stephen Covey feels the need to give a personal example from his family life.

And he used this particular case to explain the importance of the paradigms we use when we are looking at those around us.

His relationship with his teenage son changed for the better only when Covey was able to stop putting pressure and expectations on the young boy.

When he accepted and loved him for who he was. That was the point when a dramatic change took place, and the boy started to flourish.

And that’s because we live in a society surrounded by other humans and we need to evolve to this higher state.

The First Habit: Be Proactive.

This is the first habit. To inspire us to be more proactive, Stephen Covey describes the situation of Viktor Franklin, a Holocaust Survivor. In the darkest hours of humanity, Viktor Franklin managed to go on and find meaning in everything that happened. Being proactive means to accept our responsibilities.

You need to take control of your life in the face of all the opportunities and situations that arise. Make decisions and actions always based on your values and not just based on the conditions in the circumstances in which you are at the moment. The freedom in choosing your answer is based on:

  • Self-knowledge: So that you can understand your feelings and thoughts;
  • Imagination: For you to be able to go beyond your present reality;
  • Consciousness: Your ability to distinguish good from evil
  • Free Will: So that you can change your emotions and thoughts perceived by your self-knowledge.

A proactive person is guided by his own values, and unlike a reactive person, she makes a point of making her own decisions, never letting the world or others tell her what to do to change her situation.

If you are proactive, no one can negatively affect your feelings unless you allow it.

This truth is not easy to accept, especially if you often blame others for your problems. Once you accept that you have caused your own present situation and that you are the master of your destiny, you become able to change your future.

One of the best ways to improve this is by changing the way you communicate. Use language that matches this new mental reality. If you use passive phrases, such as “So-and-so makes me crazy,” it’s time to stop.

Understand that you are being reactive and allowing others to control your emotions.

Try an active alternative, such as

“I’m allowing so-and-so to drive me crazy. What could I do so that this does not happen anymore?”

Besides, you should also abandon expressions such as “I have to do something” and change them into their active forms: “I want to do something”.

Focus on the things you can control, and you will become a more effective person.

Means to do the best we can with what we have and stop complaining about our circumstances. But we are the only ones that have the power to decide about how we will react to them.

The things we cannot control go into what Stephen Covey calls Circle of Concern. The things we can do something about, go into our Circle of Influence.

And being proactive means spending more time in the Circle of Influence than in the Circle of Concern.

The Second Habit: Begin with the end in mind.

This is how Stephen Covey named the second habit.

This idea can also be seen as “look at the bigger picture” of a project.

But Stephen Covey wants you to think about every action, every decision you make, from a higher perspective. What you need is to think about the end of your life and imagine how you would like people to remember you.

About what legacy you wish to leave behind. Every step is going in that direction, and you have the choice day by day to build a personality that will be remembered in a certain way.

To succeed, you must plan first and execute later. First, you must define what you want to achieve and then trace all activities to achieve that goal.

Personal leadership should come first, in the form of the question “what do I want to achieve?” Then comes your ability to manage, in the form of the question “what is the best way to achieve what I want?” Your goals, you need to visualize the outcome of each action before executing it.

Therefore, a good tip is to define a personal mission statement, memorize it and write it down. In this mission, you define your beliefs and objectives

List the values and principles that you believe in, and the greater goals you want to achieve in your life. The mission statement is your personal constitution, an established standard by which everything can be measured and evaluated.

Giving you a sense of direction and security to make the best decisions based on your principles. When making a decision based on your principles, you become more efficient because:

  1. You make the decision proactively, based on your free will, not because someone is pushing you in a direction;
  2. You know that your choice is appropriate because it is based on principles with predictable long-term results;
  3. Your own decision helps to reinforce your core values;
  4. You can communicate honestly with everyone involved, explaining your fundamental principles;
  5. You feel comfortable with your decision, whatever it is;

The Third Habit: Put first things first.

This chapter focuses on developing leadership abilities and explaining the difference between management and leadership. It’s all about setting our priorities before we start working on something. You will see in this part of the book, the four quadrants of Time Management.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People PDF

Many people believe that the activities presented in the first quadrant, the ones that are urgent and important should have our primary focus during the day.

But it’s the second quadrant, the activities that are important, but not critical, that you need to take care of.

These are usually preventive activities, small steps that you need to take day by day to achieve your personal development goals or to prevent something terrible from happening. If you want to be healthy, you need to eat right and exercise regularly.

Otherwise, illness or obesity will appear as emergencies in quadrant 1.

The Fourth Habit: Think Win/Win

This one shows each and every one how important it is to listen actively when you are in a meeting and to try and do the best you can do for your business partners.

By showing them a Win/Win solution and developing an attitude that wants to collaborate and find answers, not just gain profit, in the long term you will achieve great success.

If you cannot achieve a win-win situation, it is preferable not to close the deal. So at least you maintain the relationship to a possible win-win agreement in the future. Win-win agreements have the following dimensions:

  • Character: is the basis of the win/win paradigm. Only when you know your values well will you know what it means to win.
  • Relationships: build on the basis of character. Develop your credibility over time by investing in relationships focused on success on both sides.
  • Agreements: Agreements arise from relationships. An understanding must be clear and binding: desired results, rules or parameters within which results will be obtained, resources available to achieve results, measures to evaluate the objectives achieved and the consequences that pursue the goals.
  • Regulatory system: for agreements to work, there must be a system to evaluate and regulate it.
  • Process: A simple process must be used to reach a win/win agreement: The first step is to try to see the situation from the perspective of the other by identifying its key aspects and concerns. Next, we must list the results that we would consider a solution acceptable to both and finally we should seek the agreement or new options to obtain these results.

The Fifth Habit: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

You have to pay close attention to what the people around you want, and also you have to sit and reflect on their needs rather than just be in a hurry to give back an answer.

Soon you will realize that they open up so much more and they relate to you differently.

Especially in business meetings, try to understand what your partners need. Make things clear by asking a lot of questions and show them your desire to understand really.

Each relationship is like a kind of emotional bank account that records exactly how much each person has invested in it.

The greater the balance, the greater the trust between the parties. And to reach this balance, one must understand the other.

That is the habit of effective communication and also the most powerful habit that we can put into action immediately.

Most people spend their lives learning to communicate in written or spoken form but have little training in listening and truly understanding the other person.

It is rare to find people who listen with the intention of understanding.

People often listen with the intent to respond. Hearing with empathy is a very powerful tool that gives you the exact information to work with.

Instead of filtering out what the person is talking about the filter with which you see the world (or listening), you have to understand how the other person sees you.

After the physical need to survive, the most important need of a person is to be understood and appreciated.

By listening empathically, you will be fulfilling that need and can then influence the other party and work together on a win/win solution.

It takes time and effort to master this skill at first, but the rewards are great.

If you learn to listen in a truly active and empathetic way, you will notice that many people are quite willing to open up and consider your opinions and advice.

7 habits of highly effective people pdf

The Sixth Habit: Synergize

This is a part that challenges us to deal with the difference we find in others. To try and see if we can find common ground. And maybe even to create something new and unique.

Synergy means that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The habit of synergizing then involves creative cooperation and teamwork: people with a win-win mentality who listen with empathy can take advantage of their differences to generate options that did not exist before.

Gathering several different perspectives, in the spirit of mutual respect, results in synergy.

When you have two entirely different points of view, you can look for a 3rd one. This alternative represents the synergy of those two ideas.

In a company, for example, it’s crucial to combine the strengths of more people. And it is also vital to focus on teamwork to achieve better results than if the task would have been done by a single individual.

Participants feel free to look for the best possible alternative and often get different and better proposals than the original ones.

Synergy makes you assimilate new points of view and achieve positive results by working together. But synergy is not necessarily making everyone agree.

It is to extract the best of each, never confusing uniformity with unity. The goal is not that everyone agrees and comes up with a uniform solution, but rather come up with a unique solution that combines the best of the parts.

The Seventh Habit: Sharpen the saw

This is the habit that, as Stephen Covey likes to say, surrounds all the other habits and makes sure you know how to take care of all your needs.

However, people are often very busy producing (sawing the wood) to pay attention to the maintenance of their means of production (sharpening the saw).

That causes them to see themselves producing little because they have a dull saw without.

So is it with your habits. If your habit is not sharp, your production falls.

That is because often maintenance does not bring large immediate gains, but it is essential if you want to continue sawing and even more if you want to preserve your saw.

Sharpening the saw implies the invention of a balanced, systemic program for self-renewal in four key areas. You should spend at least an hour each day working on them:

  • Physical dimension: includes physical exercise, nutrition and stress management. By eating correctly and exercising 30 minutes a day, you will be able to improve your strength and stamina. If you do not, your body will weaken.
  • Spiritual dimension: You must renew your commitment to your values by reviewing your personal mission, or by prayer, meditation, or immersion in music, literature, or nature. If you do not, your spirit will be insensitive.
  • Mental Dimension: Your mind is “sharpened” by activities such as reading, writing, and planning. Start with one end in mind and work on priorities first.
  • Social/emotional dimension: Be empathic and think win-win As the four dimensions are interrelated, what you do to “sharpen the saw” in one will positively impact the others. If you work on the four dimensions in balance, at least an hour a day, every day, you will make habits a fundamental part of your life.

Key Lessons from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People PDF”

1.      Effectiveness vs. Passivity- Be Proactive
2.      Reach your goals effectively- Begin with the End in Mind
3.      Know when and how to act-Put First Things First

“Effectiveness vs. Passivity- Be Proactive.”

Highly effective people are not the passive ones, the effective ones take the initiative, they are born leaders, not bosses, or in other words, they are simply proactive. Delayers always complain, when they encounter an obstacle down the road, they’ll just give up.

Leaders or active individuals, however, are those who act all the time, those brave enough take full responsibility for their own life’s success and failures.

The leaders notice the inner strength that dwells within them, that strength is combined with freedom.

For a person to define itself as free of mind, first that individual must be able to cope with different situations and be prepared to face the consequences of personal choices.

Not even leaders have the power to influence the surroundings, but they are more than capable of making the best out of them.

“Reach your goals effectively-Begin with the End in Mind.”

Analyze your goals carefully and see if they are realistic. A Large portion of the population spends a lifetime meaninglessly without having any long-term ideas, and if they have some, quite often these ideas are proven to be meaningless, unrealistic or even harmful.

For example, You probably have a celebrity that you admire and love (secretly or publicly) with all your heart.

You see them on television, covers of commercial magazines, and Covey is sure that you’ve noticed so far that these so-called “successful celebrities” are more prone to depression and anxiety issues than a normal person.

They’ve become rich and powerful, but that came with a price.

Effectiveness is not just reaching a goal is much more than that; efficiency is achieving a goal without having to pay a big price for it.

“Know when and how to act-Put First Things First”

As explained earlier Covey wants you to act, but what is more important than an active person? – Knowing when and how to move, be determined and enthusiastic when you meet obstacles along the path and adapt your approach to different surroundings if necessary.

But what stands behind all that habits? Can The seven habit work on their own?

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“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Quotes

It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world. Click To Tweet Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Dependent people cannot choose to become interdependent. They don’t have the character to do it; they don’t own enough of themselves. Click To Tweet Proactive people can carry their weather with them. Click To Tweet By working on ourselves instead of worrying about conditions, we were able to influence the conditions. Click To Tweet The essence of synergy is to value differences— to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

This book gives intuitive tips for people who have already worked on their productivity. Hence such readers may find a significant portion of the content repetitive.

However, for people who like researched guidelines for a better life, this may be just the read they need.

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Top Self Help Books

In 1859, Samuel Smiles, a little-known Scottish government reformer, published his second book, a haphazard manual for reaching your highest potential. For its title, he chose the unassuming “Self-Help”, adding “with Illustrations of Character and Conduct” as a subtitle.

Overnight, he became a celebrity, “a leading pundit and a much-consulted guru.” Little did he know that he had started both a genre and a revolution.

One and a half century later, it’s safe to say that self help books are all the rage. Whether they strive to help you become a millionaire or a happier person, they come by the dozens on a weekly basis. So, how would you know which are the best ones?

That’s where we come in! We’ve rummaged through our database, memory and tens of booklists to choose the best self help books. So, you can just start reading them!

#1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success” by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People SummarySamuel Smiles might have been the first one to write a self-help book, but Dale Carnegie was certainly the first one to take writing self-help books seriously and make it a full-time job.

Published in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a classic sold in over 30 million copies. The fact that it was recently included in “Time Magazine’s” top 20 of list of most influential books in history speaks volumes about its timelessness.

Read this book to learn the six ways to make people like you. And, while you’re there, have a look at the nine ways you can change them. Or, maybe, the twelve ways to convince them that you’re right!

Don’t worry: they’ll think that it was the other way around!

#2. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich SummaryJust one year after Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” another book you’re probably already familiar with was making the rounds. It still is, almost a century after it was first published.

Inspired by a 1908 meeting with Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill started a few-decades’ long investigation into the habits and philosophies of the rich and the successful.

His 1937 masterpiece, “Think and Grow Rich” is based on this research and the interviews he conducted over this period. And it’s essentially a 13-step philosophy of success.

The themes the book covers are the following ones: desire, faith, autosuggestion, specialized knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, power of the master mind, the mystery of sex transmutation, the subconscious mind, the brain, and the sixth sense.

Pervading throughout the book is the idea of the power of “positive thinking”. Which, as you may already know, is quite a popular genre nowadays by itself.

#3. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People SummaryWe fast forward half a century to the first non-fiction book to sell more than one million copies of its audio version: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s one more self-help book focusing on success, and one of the many where there’s an exact number of life-changing actions you’re expected to take.

In this case, Stephen R. Covey opts for these seven habits: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first; think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergize; sharpen the saw.

You may have noticed that we used two semicolons to organize Covey’s habits. Of course, there’s a reason why we did that. Namely, Covey thinks that the first three habits help develop your independence, while the second three furnish your interdependence skills. The final is the bridge.

Fifteen years later, Covey would add another habit to this list. And “The 8th Habit” was almost as popular as this chart-topper.

#4. “The Power of Now: An Incredible Masterpiece of Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart TolleThe Power of Now Summary‘s The Power of Now” didn’t become an instant bestseller after its 1997 publication. But, after it was republished two years later, and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and Meg Ryan in 2000, what was by that moment a word-of-mouth phenomenon, turned into one of the most sold and beloved self-improvement books in history.

The book blends psychology and spiritualism to give the old-age Zen Buddhist ideas a New-Age spin. And it seems that it does this in a brilliant manner since its philosophy resonates with readers from start to finish, from U.S. to Europe to Japan.

Its basic premise is the belief that, in order to be happy, you need to overcome your you’re your greatest enemy. You can do this through meditation and mindfulness, positive thinking and acceptance of suffering.

And you should start doing it as soon as you finish reading “The Power of Now.”

#5. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture SummaryIf you had one last lecture to give before you died – what would that lecture be?

Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, didn’t need to imagine the answer to this question. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he knew that he had barely few months left on this planet, when he was asked to talk at his alma mater.

The one-hour lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” has been viewed by almost 20 million people at YouTube; but, really, should be watched by millions more. Because, it’s so upbeat and inspiring, so gentle and wisdom-infused, that we bet few – if any – will remain unaffected and untouched.

It’s the same with the book. Randy Pausch spent the last few months of his life writing it, so you know he had some important things to share with you.

And if that’s not enough, take this into consideration as well. Just few years after it was published, this book became part of the English 100 curriculum of many schools. There are just too many “because” to list them.

#6. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

The Greatest Salesman in the World SummaryOg Mandino was an unsuccessful insurance salesman on the brink of suicide, when his life was profoundly changed by a self-help book. So, he decided to help others in the same way.

In fact, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” is sometimes subtitled in this manner. “You can change your life with the priceless wisdom of ten ancient scrolls handed down for thousands of years.”

Of course, the history of the scrolls is fictive, but their lessons are not.

They start with an awe-inspiring dictum: “I will form good habits and become their slave.” And the pronouncement is followed by two similar ones in the third and the fourth scroll: “I will persist until I succeed” and “I am Nature’s greatest miracle.”

Scattered around these mottos, there are few life-changing advices by Mandino. These are: “greet each day with love in your heart,” “live each day as if it were your last,” “laugh,” “master your emotions,” “multiply your value every day,” and “pray to god for guidance.”

Because, as he writes in the inspiring ninth, “all is worthless without action.”

#7. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Summary“The Alchemist” is actually a novel. But, probably, you already knew this, because – hey, who hasn’t read “The Alchemist”?

An international bestseller translated into 80 different languages, the book made Paulo Coelho a household name. Its lessons may be not as explicit as those of some other self-help books, but this makes them all the more profound and touching.

“The Alchemist” follows the journey of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy with a recurring dream he believes is prophetic. A Romani fortune-teller tells him that he’s right and that the dream prophesizes that he should discover a great treasure at the Egyptian pyramid.

That’s when the journey begins. Thousands of kilometers and few adventures later, it ends with an unforgettable lesson.

You may already know a part of it: “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

#8. “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers SummaryOne more book we’ve already featured in another list. (In this case, its’ the top psychology booklist: check it out if you haven’t)

But, who can blame us for including it in another? It’s one of those books about which people talk about over and over again, in many different contexts, about various of its aspects.

After all, there’s no other book in the world which compares Bill Gates to first-rate football players, or the Beatles to successful fighter pilots. And, we certainly haven’t encountered upon any which explains why Asians are math-wizards and why there are so many Jewiish lawyers.

Outliers” is the third of Malcolm Gladwell’s five “New York Times” bestsellers (if you didn’t know, he has published as many books!) And it’s his most applicable one.

Because, basically, it claims that success comes after 10,000 hours of practice. And he has a thousand stories to prove this.

#9. “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking SummaryNapoleon Hill may have initiated “the positive thinking” mindset, but it was Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” which actually started the revolution.

Published in 1952, the book remained on “The New York Times” bestseller list for over three and a half years, and inspired thousands of similar volumes. (Spoiler alert: we’ve featured the most famous two in this booklist; see above, at #8, and… well, you’ll figure it out yourself).

“The Power of Positive Thinking” basically claims that many of the things which happen in your life happen due to things you’re unable to control. What you actually can control is your reaction to them. And positive thinking is always the right way to go!

The book shares many practical bits of advice on how to eliminate negative thoughts and how to transform the alike energy into an outburst of positivity.

And, just like that, positive thoughts will make positive things happen.

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#10. “The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth” by M. Scott Peck

The Road Less Traveled Summary“Two roads diverged in the wood and I,” wrote America’s darling Robert Frost in 1916, “I took the one less traveled by; and that has made all the difference.”

The title of M. Scott Peck’s classic comes from Frost. Its content is an interesting mixture of original thought, psychological research, and Christian dogma. The last one is reserved for the last two of the four parts this book is divided in, and, in our opinion, it’s the first two parts which really make the case for including “The Road Less Traveled” in our list.

And those two talk about the virtues of discipline and love. Concerning the latter, M. Scott Peck tackles some of the most common misunderstandings and arguments for love being more of an ego-transcending action, rather than a passive feeling.

As for discipline, Peck advises everyone to practice delayed gratification and responsibility acceptance – as the surefire way to living a healthier and happier life.

#11. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown

Brené BrownDaring Greatly Summary made her name in June 2010, when, at a TEDxHouston conference, she delivered one of the greatest TED speeches in history. The numbers tell only part of the whole story: with 30 million views, it’s the 4th most watched TED speech ever.

The rest of the story is in the speech itself: titled “The Power of Vulnerability,” it defends the counter-intuitive notion that living a better life goes hand in hand with embracing flaws and humiliation, shame and vulnerability.

That’s the meaning of the title of the longer and better researched version of this speech, “Daring Greatly.” It comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt, in which Roosevelt advises people to accept vulnerability by daring greatly.

And Brown shows the unlikely connection between vulnerability and courage. And that’s merely the beginning: it seems that vulnerable people are also more caring and happier.

#12. “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel RuizThe Four Agreements Summary, Mexico’s “National Heirloom,” was born in the rural parts of the country as the youngest of 13 siblings.

A near-fatal car accident made him rethink his career as a surgeon. Soon, he became a shaman’s apprentice. “The Four Agreements” is based on his experiences during this period and, supposedly, on authentic Toltec spiritualism.

A spiritual descendant of Carlos Castaneda’s “The Teachings of Don Juan,” “The Four Agreements” is a book which advocates absolute freedom through a total annihilation of the ego. The eponymous four agreements are: “be impeccable with your word,” “don’t take anything personally,” “don’t make assumptions,” and “always do your best”.

Just like Covey (our #3), Don Miguel Ruiz will not resist to add a fifth agreement a decade later. It’s “Be skeptical, but learn to listen,” and we’ve written about it extensively.

#13. “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

The Secret SummaryRhonda Byrne was an executive producer for television and led quite an ordinary life in Melbourne, Australia. But, when her father Ronald died in 2004, she became so depressed, that she was even thinking about suicide.

And just like Og Mandino – our #6 – she found new meaning in life after reading a self-help book; in her case, Wallace D. Wattles’ “The Science of Getting Rich.” Soon, she was deep into the “positive thinking” movement, and came to the conclusion that she had discovered one of the greatest secrets in history.

Soon after its publication in 2006, “The Secret” was met with overwhelmingly positive reaction from the general public. Even Oprah Winfrey said that its message was exactly the one she was trying to share with her viewers for over two decades.

And the secret?

Think positively and positive things will happen. And you can get everything you want in three steps: ask – believe – receive. It may seem too simple, but millions claim that it works.

#14. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

Grit SummaryYou may think that it’s talent which makes the difference between the successful and the not-so successful.

Well, Angela Duckworth claims that you are gravely mistaken. And she is an academic with a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and a Ph.D. in psychology, so maybe you should trust her more than your intuition.

In “Grit” she explains that the ones who succeed are not the most talented or the most capable ones; it’s the grittiest. And if you already know what is actually denoted by this superlative, you have Duckworth to thank: she made the word popular.

If not “grit” is, as the subtitle says, a combination of power and perseverance. Or, in layman’s terms, the thing which makes you get up the eighth time, after you’ve fallen seven times before.

This book is loaded with stories by people who’ve done that. And you can learn a lot by reading them.

#15. “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power SummaryYou can’t really consider a million-copies book neither a cult classic, nor a wildcard; but, analysts do the former and we’ll take our right to think the latter.

Published in 2000, “The 48 Laws of Power” is the debut book by Robert Greene, a life-long researcher into subjects such as seduction, strategy and power.

Drawing on the lives and worldview of figures as diverse as Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, Queen Elizabeth and Henry Kissinger, it lists – you’ve guessed it – 48 laws of power, together with examples of the laws being observed, transgressed, and reversed.

The book was an immediate success, especially in the prison inmates’ and hip hop community. So much so, in fact, that its semi-sequel was co-written by Greene and – wait for it… – 50 Cent! Because of the latter, it’s called “The 50th Law.”

We guess they didn’t care they skipped one.

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