The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®

Powerful lessons in personal change

Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, continues to be a bestseller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology and focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. 

One of the most compelling books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, have empowered and inspired readers for over 25 years and played a part in the transformation of millions of lives, across all age groups and professions. 

The 7 Habits: Overview

Our character is a composite of our habits, which factors heavily in our lives. Because habits are consistent, unconscious patterns, they constantly express our character and result in our effectiveness or ineffectiveness. Habits are deeply ingrained and we are constantly pulled in their direction. Breaking deeply imbedded, habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness or selfishness that inhibit effectiveness involves more than simple willpower or a few minor changes.

'Habits' Defined

A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire:

  • Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why.
  • Skill is the how to do.
  • Desire is the motivation, the want to do.

Knowing you need to listen and knowing how to listen are not enough. Unless you want to listen, it won't become a habit. Creating a habit requires work in all three dimensions. By working on knowledge, skills, and desire, we can break through to new levels of personal and interpersonal effectiveness as we break from old paradigms. 

Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world... If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm. - Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Habit 1: Be Proactive®

Being proactive means more than taking initiative. It means we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind® 

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. You need to know where you are going in order to better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. 

Habit 3: Put First Things First® 

Habit 3 is the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2. Habit 1 says, "You are the creator. You are in charge." Habit 2 is the first mental creation, based on imagination, the ability to envision what you can become. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation. It's the exercise of independent will toward becoming principle-centered.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win®

Win/Win is not a technique; it's a total philosophy. This frame of mind and heart constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. It's not your way or my way; it's a better way, a higher way.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood®

Seek first to understand involves a deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Instead, most people listen to the reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. 

Habit 6: Synergize®

Synergy is the highest activity in all life - the true test and manifestation of all the other habits combined. Synergy catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people. Simply defined, synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw®

Habit 7 is about taking time for self-renewal. It makes all of the other Habits possible. When you sharpen the saw, you preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have - yourself. 

Principles of effective leadership have not changed, but when some team members are co-located, some work from home, and even more follow a hybrid model, leaders must apply those principles differently. 

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