Book Review: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

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As you probably have all guessed by now, I am a big fan of non-fiction, personal development books, books analyzing why we do what we do, and investment and finance books.  I have always wanted to read this book but never had the opportunity to.  A new guy I am seeing lent me this book and I have been enjoying the read so far.  It wasn't what I thought it would be.  When I thought of “habit” and what this book would be like, I thought that the book would be talking about how you should get 8 hours of sleep every night to function optimally.  Or that you would need to make lists every day to get things done.  Or that you need to exercise 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.  Or even that you need to have five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day in order to be highly effective.

When I started reading this book I was pleasantly surprised because it reads more like some of the books about Buddhism that I have been reading lately.

7 Habits of highly effective peopleThe premise that the author, Stephen Covey is trying to convey is that most people are reactionary when things happen to them.  A lot of people have this “oh poor me” or victim attitude and a “It Is What It Is” attitude where they are very complacent and feel that they cannot do anything with their circumstances.  This book teaches you the habits that you can learn in order to be effective in your professional and personal life, he talks about the importance of balance and acting through your personal principles.

Here are the 7 Habits:

1) Be Proactive

Basically Stephen Covey says that in life, we are given a stimulus.  It is our control to choose our response.  We can choose to be angry and wallow in self pity, to be complacent and to feel that we cannot do anything about our situation.  Or we can choose to change and try to improve our situation or to learn from it.

“It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us”- Steven Covey

2) Begin With the End in Mind

This habit focuses on raising awareness and consciousness that we are mortal and that relationships are really the essence of what life is about.  He asks you to think about your funeral (morbid I know, but pretty awesome) and what you would want your family and friends to say about you.  Are you living the life you want to live and living by your principles?  What is your personal mission statement?

3) Put First Things First

I really liked this chapter though it is a bit labour intensive.  It really puts the “balance” into your life.  We all have different roles (e.g. father, husband, employee, soccer player, personal development like exercise) and in order to be effective you may want to set goals in each of these areas in order to feel balanced.  He suggests scheduling these goals for your roles in to your weekly calender so that other things don't get in the way (like filler things).

4) Think Win/Win

Stephen Covey says that in order to be effectively interdependent we initially have to be independent, but you can't be JUST independent to be truly effective.  This is something I struggle with myself because I tend to have trouble asking others for help.

5) Seek First to Understand/ Then Be Understood

An issue most people have is that they jump to conclusions and make assumptions.  A part of effective communication and interpersonal relationships is to have the other person feel like they are understood.  Without the other person's “buy-in” you will never be able to influence.

6) Synergize

Stephen Covey acknowledges that we can't get along with everyone but we can learn to work with them and to use the differences to our advantage.

7) Sharpen the Saw

This chapter is what I thought this book was primarily about.  But it talks about recharging yourself and taking care of yourself regularly and taking the time out to do that.  We get so busy with the daily grind that we forget to take care of the most important thing in our life, ourselves.  Because if let ourselves get run down, we won't be able to produce income, we won't be able to take care of our loved ones, and we won't be able to do a lot of things.

For more information, take a look at the free sample provided at Amazon

Readers, have you read this book? What do you think of it?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

2 Comments

  1. Jonny on October 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I’m definitely going to pick up this book for my next non-fiction read (even though you did a good job summarizing the main points)

    It’s interesting the book approaches the topic of effectiveness from a strategy perspective rather than tactics (exercise, sleep). I would think this would also tie in, but I suppose that’s covered in the Sharpen the Saw chapter.

    Thanks for the post!



  2. Sean Cooper, Financial Journalist on October 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I haven’t read this book, but I’ll definitely get it out from the library. Those are some great tips! Even though I work an 80-hour work week, I still find time for the important things in life – family, friends, cooking and chores. Time management is all about goal setting. Each day I set a list of goals I’d like to accomplish. This helps me be a lot more productive.



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