Stephen R. Covey wrote the book in 1989 but I never got round to reading it. Just recently a friend mentioned him and his book and I thought I’d look it up on Wikipedia. Here’s the summary of the seven habits from Wikipedia:
- Be Proactive. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term ‘reactive’ as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you act about certain things. Being “proactive” means taking responsibility for everything in life. When you’re reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Initiative, and taking action will then follow. Covey shows how man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self, think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him. It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about ‘Stimulus and Response’. Between Stimulus and Response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.
- Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on “true-north principles.” Covey recommends to formulate a “personal vision statement” to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization, rather than being prescribed.
- Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at short-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear not to be urgent, but are in fact very important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.
- Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought, that satisfy the needs of oneself, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice being rejected. Thoroughly reading out your own autobiography will decrease the chance of establishing a working communication.
- Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that, when this is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’
- Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-satisfaction. Regaining what Covey calls ‘production capability’ by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.
The Wikipedia article links to a web page with some elaboration of the habits. The page has just one slightly annoying pop-up.
You’ll find another summary here. This one includes a summary of the discussion comparing the personality and character ethics. Interesting. I drew the following mind map to help me understand the section:
Also according to Wikipedia (yes, again), Covey wrote a sequel to the book in 2004 — The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness:
The eighth habit is to ‘Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs’.The book talks of ‘6 Cancers’ that inhibit people’s greatness: