The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is an outstanding book on leadership and personal development.
It has grown to worldwide bestseller status and become a staple in personal development literature in the past 2 decades.
This section will delve into the book in detail; what it is about and also whether you should read it.
What ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is About
The book mainly breaks down personal development into seven habits that you and I can develop every day in our lives, using the framework as follows:
To move to success, we first have to develop ourselves internally to go from dependence to independence, i.e, we proactively change our environment and circumstances instead of letting events, things and people ‘happen’ to us. To do that, Stephen Covey goes into the first three habits:
1. Be proactive
Don’t let circumstances create your attitudes. Between what happens to you and what you do about it lies a crucial point: how you choose to respond. Choose your attitudes and respond to circumstances in the most positive and productive way. Believe that you have the power to effect change.
2. Begin with the End in Mind
Always have dreams or goals that you can work toward. You need a driving force in your life to become better, and that driving force should be a positive outcome you want in your life. What dreams do you have? What goals do you want to achieve?
3. Put First Things First
In the light of your dreams and goals, put first things first. What are the important things that you have to do today that will bring you closer to your goals? A lot of urgent things call out to you in the day, the phone, email, social obligations, but you must learn to run your life according to what is important to you, not what is urgent.
After you have reached independence through the active practice of the first 3 habits, you should proceed to work toward interdependence on your fellow men; could be your colleagues or your friends.
4. Think Win-Win
Enter every social or business transaction with a win-win mentality. This means that always think for the best interest of both parties. Always think about outcomes that will maximize the benefit for both parties instead of just you.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
Most people enter a transaction wanting to be heard and understood. The result is that no one tries to understand the other party. This habit teaches you about listening first and trying to find common ground before expecting others to understand you.
When you have heard and understood the other party and vice versa, now is the time to find a 3rd synergistic solution. Is there an outcome that will be even more beneficial to both parties that you haven’t considered? Work cooperatively with the other party to find it.
No one is perfect, after these 6 habits have been practiced regularly; Habit 7 must be practiced.
7. Sharpening the Saw
Your life is a constant growth and improvement process. No one will become perfect on the first try, so the idea of habit is reinforced here. It must be practiced on and improved again and again until you become a highly effective person!
Should you read this book?
Seeing that millions have read this book, it’s good that you at least understand the basic premises behind the 7 Habits framework. At least, when the topic of books on leadership is brought up in corporate discussions and meetings, you have something valuable to add to the discussion.
The principles and truths are well placed out in the framework, and the order of personal development is clear; you start from habit #1 and work your way up to habit #6, and repeat the process. i.e habit #7.
But as with all books on leadership and personal development, it’s good to understand the framework but remember that a framework merely communicates with your head, but not your heart.
The key to start your journey in personal development is always your personal, internal motivation from within, and that is something that the book (and no book) will probably offer.
My suggestion is to read this book, and take a few months to read and practice habit #1 instead of reading everything all at once. That way, you’re more likely to get the best out of this book, through the actual practice of the habits.
You can get the book here on Amazon.