Motivational Book Club: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

It’s been a while since I’ve written a motivational book review post. But this is a meaty book with lots of knowledge and information. I initially thought it would be another “how to be successful” type book but surprisingly it wasn’t. It’s more like how to be successful in all aspects of your life.

Stephen Covey is a motivational business man, life coach, relationship coach and a lot of other things. His book focuses not on his own successes but on carefully curated stories about others that tie into 7 Habits.

I will admit, it’s a very meaty book that requires your full attention. It’s highly conceptual so bear with me.

He has 7 habits that will help you take your life from mediocre and without vision or direction, to a life that has purpose, intention and success.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

This is mainly about how to build your character and also make choices in your life. It’s pretty solid advice considering most people are living their lives in autopilot. He basically says build your character so you know what you stand for and what your strengths are, then get ahead of yourself and make choices in your life that matter.

Here he tells us to question our Paradigms: our assumptions about how the world works.

Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind

This was a bit confusing for me. All the stories and examples he gives can really make you lose focus on the message but I think I got the gist.

Covey suggests to create a personal mission statement and think hard and long about who we are and what we stand for. Through this we’ll be able to act through our principles, that we chose for ourselves, and make sound decisions. Most people make decisions based on motivations from friends, family, financial, selfish, professions and other influences. Having a set of principles that you carved for yourself and built will allow you to be consistent and make better decisions long-term.

There is also an exercise called “visualization and affirmation” that helps you to really dig into yourself, visualize the behavior in yourself you want to change, then create an affirmation you can use to remind yourself to follow the vision.

Habit 3: Put First things First

Covey makes it clear you must master Habit 1 & 2 before you can get to 3.

It’s mainly about time management. Truly efficient people know how to time manage. He recommends focusing your time on things that are important but not urgent towards your growth/business. This is the area that’s most ignored by pressing but not urgent matters. And this is the area that’s going to result in the biggest impact.

Also learning how to say no is a must. Because we all have the same hours in a day and limited time, saying no to one thing means saying yes to something else.

Covey recommends planning to do lists on a weekly basis. It forces you to prioritize and focus on your long-term vision.

He also touches on the power of delegation. True delegation, giving fundamental instructions but not micromanaging.

Part 4: Public Victory

Covey Starts off talking about dealing with people. Essentially you want to act towards others with integrity and honesty. Because with every moment that you prove your character, it’s more likely to pay off when you really need it.

He reminds you that building relationships take time. Never go for the quick fix, that doesn’t work.

The things that will help you build your relationship:

1. Understanding people

2. Small acts of kindness

3. Keeping Commitments

4. Clarifying Expectations

5. Showing Personal Integrity

Covey discusses the importance of interdependence, the idea that you can be independent but also that you need other people and they need you. A type of Win/win scenario

Habit 5: Seek to Understand, Then Seek to be Understood.

Empathy is an absolute must. You need to put yourself in the shoes of others. Often we want to be understood first, rather than take the effort to understand others.

Empathy is actually a personal strength of mine, so I found this chapter to be very obvious but I definitely would recommend this section for people who struggle with connecting or understanding people so to be persuasive.

“If you really seek to understand, without hypocrisy and without guile, there will be times when you will be literally stunned with the pure knowledge and understanding that will flow to you from another human being.”

Then Covey discusses “how” to be understood. You have to explain your point of view though other people’s perceptions. And you can only do that once you understand other people.

What??

It’s actually quite brilliant and efficient. So the empathy portion is vital to being persuasive and getting your point across..

Another way to build open communication is to really invest time in the people in your circle of influence, like your family, friends and coworkers. If you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you.

Habit 6: Synergize

This is a shorter chapter but he goes over making using habits 1-5 all together and watching the success that follows.

Covey follows the idea that using all the habits together is more powerful than the sum of each part. Is damn incredible! He says.

Using habits 1-5 require you to be courageous, authentic, and true. Which can be uncomfortable but growth never came from comfort.

Synergize isn’t about just compromising.  Compromising means that both people get part of what they want but not all.  Synergize is about coming up with solutions that please everyone, so that no one feels like they are getting the short end of the stick.

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

Covey starts this chapter about a man sawing down the tree.  The conversation reveals that, he had been going at the tree for 5 hours.  It’s suggested he should take a break and sharpen the saw, a sharper saw will make him more efficient.  The man replies that he doesn’t have enough time!

This chapter is about taking a break sometimes.  We all like to be efficient and productive but not giving ourselves rest is a recipe for disaster.

But specifically we need to rest so we can achieve a balanced life in the areas of spiritual, mental, social, and physical activities.

This is quite a hefty book, though I’m glad I read it.  It kind of confirmed a lot of things I thought about life and made it easy to understand why character and integrity, though not obviously important, are essential for any successful person.

This book is a must read for those who are still figuring their way out of life.  It kind of puts things into perspective and allows you to dig deep inside of yourself to find the answers that will change YOUR life.

If you’ve read this book, feel free to tell me more about what you think!

Check out my other motivational book posts here:

Motivational Book Club: The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter, by Meg Jay

Motivational Book Club: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson

Motivational Book Club: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I’ve included a few places for links above to purchase the book if you’re interested.