The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary
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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 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.
Check out our Animated Summary
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:
- You make the decision proactively, based on your free will, not because someone is pushing you in a direction;
- You know that your choice is appropriate because it is based on principles with predictable long-term results;
- Your own decision helps to reinforce your core values;
- You can communicate honestly with everyone involved, explaining your fundamental principles;
- 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.
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.
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” QuotesIt 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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