The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This is a complete summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey.


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a hugely influential self-help phenomenon that can teach you the principles of effectiveness. Once you turn these principles into habits, you will be on your way to tremendous success, both in your personal and professional life.

Change your habits and your life with this indispensable self-help method loved by millions of people. 

Who Should Read This Book?

  • People who want to be more efficient in their private and professional life.
  • Those who have heard of the world famous Seven Habits and want to learn them.

What’s In It For Me, And Why Is It Important?

Adopt the habits that distinguish highly influential people from the herd. 

About The Author

Stephen Covey was an American author, consultant, and lecturer. In addition to motivational and self-help books, Covey has also written religious texts. But The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is his best-known work, selling over 20 million copies.


Would you like to be more effective in life? Perhaps you would like to be more successful professionally? Or maybe you would like to become a loving and dedicated partner?

Whatever you want to improve, you will only get it if you change yourself first. And the surest way to achieve permanent personal change is to develop better habits.

We are indeed creatures of habits. Not only how we act but also who we are, is primarily determined by our practices. Routines define our characters and, like gravity, steer our behavior in a specific direction.

But what habits can help you become effective? This book describes a step-by-step integrated program that will improve your personal and professional performance. It focuses on the following habits:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Start with an end in mind
  3. Put the first things first
  4. Think Win-win
  5. Try to understand first, then to be understood
  6. Synergizing
  7. Sharpening the saw

So, lets dive in and join the millions of people who have already benefited from this approach!


For Permanent Change, You Need To Address Your Character, Not Just Your Behavior

When Stephen Covey began his quest to understand the nature of success truly, he began to delve into approximately 200 years of literature on the subject starting in 1776.

Relying on this deep dive, he concluded that there are generally two ways to improve your life:

  1. The first method is to work with the skills required to achieve the desired behavior.

For instance, if you want to improve your relationships with others, you can study communication skills or body language.

We can call this method the ethics of personality. It’s been especially popular since the 1920s, but while it sounds like a solid growth path, it’s actually just a shortcut. Personality ethics allows you to avoid working on the basic traits that hold you back and promises that an easy-to-learn technique will be the cure-all to all your problems.

Unfortunately, this promise is largely empty and hardly ever leads to permanent personal growth.

  1. The second method is much more effective: working with your character – the basic habits and beliefs that shape your worldview.

Again, only the behavior that emanates directly from your character will last over time because sooner or later, your genuine character will shine.

This can be called character ethics and emphasizes things like courage, integrity, and the golden rule. This was the predominant approach to success before the 1920s, as evidenced by tough figures like Benjamin Franklin.

So, if you really want to change, you have to work from the inside out. For example, if you’re going to have a happy marriage, you need to become a more positive person first, rather than just mastering a few simple techniques that will make others like you more.

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So how can you work with your character? Find out in the next section below.

Align The Way You View The World With Basic Universal Principles

If you’ve ever tried to navigate the streets of an unfamiliar city, you know that a map is helpful.

But when you navigate the world around you, you use your paradigms to guide you instead of using a map of streets and addresses. A paradigm is a subjective way in which each of us perceives and understands the world.

No one is really an objective observer. Our own paradigm shapes everything we understand about the world. For example, a person with a negative paradigm will find it a frustrating waste of time to get lost in an unfamiliar city. In contrast, a person with a more positive paradigm will find it an unexpected adventure.

Since our paradigms are at the heart of our characters, changing our paradigms is the key to lasting change. This is the only way we can change our subjective reality – our characters and behaviors with them. For this reason, you must recognize and monitor your own paradigms; Otherwise, you don’t know which one is holding you back.

The author has already experienced a major paradigm shift in the New York subway. It was Sunday morning, and the metro was very quiet; People usually read or rested with their eyes closed.

Then a man got into the car with his children. Immediately the scene changed: the kids started screaming and throwing things and disturbing everyone in the vehicle. At the same time, the father sat down and closed his eyes.

The author was so upset by the children’s agitation and the man’s apparent indifference that he asked him to keep his children under control. The man replied calmly that he probably should, but the children’s mother had passed away an hour earlier, and they were all in shock.

Of course, the author’s paradigm immediately morphed into deep compassion and a desire to help.

While not all paradigm shifts happen so quickly, each shift can be just as powerful.

So which paradigms should you aim for?

The most effective are those which conform to broader universal principles such as justice, fairness, and integrity. Since most people think these principles are good, we can think of them as permanent laws of nature. Therefore, the more accurately your paradigm map reflects this landscape of natural principles, the more realistic your perspective and the better your chances of success for lasting change.

Achieving this kind of moral paradigm is precisely the purpose of the Seven Habits.


Habit Number One: Be Proactive And Take Charge Of Your Destiny

What is the difference between humans and animals? A typical difference is that animals are slaves to external stimuli and can only respond to these stimuli in the preprogrammed ways inherent in their nature.

In contrast, we humans can think about a stimulus before reacting to it, and we can even reprogram ourselves to respond to it in a specific and desired way.

This means that we not only react to the outside world but can influence it proactively.

But even though we all have this ability to be proactive, many still choose to be reactive and let external circumstances dictate their behavior and emotions. For example, they may be in a bad mood when it is raining outside or when other people have mistreated them. You can also hear such people talking; Phrases like “It wasn’t my fault” or “It’s out of my hands” are prevalent.

Proactive people create their own weather. They take responsibility for their lives and make conscious decisions about their behavior. They say things like “I made a decision…” or “Let’s try to find a solution to this problem.”

Another way to really know the difference between the two poses is to imagine two concentric circles. The outer circle is your circle of fear, which represents everything from the electric bill to the threat of nuclear war. Inside that circle is the smaller circle of influence, representing all of the things you can actually do something about.

Proactive people focus on their sphere of influence and choose to work with things that they themselves control. And this leads to an expansion of their circles of influence.

At the same time, reactive people focus on their fear circles and worry about the things they cannot change. This narrows their sphere of influence.

Proactivity can be a compelling habit. It works even under the most extreme conditions. Think of Viktor Frankl, who was imprisoned in several German concentration camps during World War II. Amid this misery, he decided that even though his guards controlled everything around him, he was still free to choose exactly how to react to his situation. Although he suffered terribly, he could imagine happier days in the future and teach his students what he had learned in the camp. His freedom lay in the small gap between the external stimuli he encountered and his reaction to them. No one could take that last freedom away from him, and he cared for it until, like a tiny spark igniting a blazing fire, it inhaled the surroundings, including some of the guards.

Likewise, you also have the power to decide what happens between a stimulus and your response. This way, you can change your behavior and your emotions. Set yourself a 30-day proactive challenge to put this into practice: Whether you’re at home or at work, if you blame someone or something outside of a problem, remember it and then point it out. The cause is your answer to the problem. Focus on finding solutions rather than blaming others. Practice the little freedom you have before reacting, and you will see your proactivity flourish.


Habit Number Two: Commence With The End In Mind

When you take an action, you actually do it twice: first in your head when you imagine it, then physically when you do it.

For example, when building a house, first visualize what type of house you want, plan the layout, rooms, and garden before laying a single brick. Failing to take the time to do so, the construction itself would likely turn out to be very messy and expensive. Without following a plan, it would undoubtedly be costly mistakes, like forgetting the space for the stairs leading from the ground floor to others.

For this reason, it is important to keep in mind the goal you want before you start any task. The more precise and realistic the mental image of the action, the better its execution – and therefore the better the result.

This type of visual anticipation works in all kinds of situations. For example, most sprinters can easily imagine stepping off the starting block, completing a perfect race, and finishing first.

Notwithstanding if you are at home or at work, take the time to visualize. Just as the saying goes: “Better to ask twice than to get lost once.” It is much more adequate to spend time anticipating an action and visualizing the desired outcome than just moving quickly, perhaps in the wrong direction.

To begin, think about one of your upcoming projects and write down precisely the results you want and the steps you need to take to achieve those results.

But it’s not only important that individual projects start with the end in mind. As you will get to see in the next part, you should also have a clear idea of ​​your larger goals in life.

Jot Down A Personal Mission Statement And Make It Part Of Your Daily Life

Here is a mental exercise. Imagine, it’s been three years in the future, and you are sadly passed away. Take a moment to imagine your own funeral. Imagine your loved ones – your partner, best friend, perhaps your dearest colleague – giving eulogies. Ask yourself what you’d want them to say. What kind of person would you like to be remembered as? What do you want to be remembered for?

Regrettably, a lot of people spend their time working on goals that don’t really matter because they keep setting them right. Basically, they don’t understand the difference between efficient and effective.

Being efficient means doing the maximum as quickly as possible. But there’s no point if you don’t know what you’re looking for and why you’re doing it. It’s a bit like climbing a ladder on the wrong wall: you are moving forward but in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, being effective means having your ladder on the right wall, that is, knowing your destination in life. Effective people don’t just aimlessly pursue things like money and fame; they focus on their importance. Everything else is wasted.

So how can you specify your destination in life?

One helpful method is to ask yourself the funeral questions mentioned above and then use your answers as the basis for writing a personal mission statement. This is a document where you set your own creed, which means what kind of person you will like to be, what you want to accomplish in your life, and the core values ​​and principles behind those goals.

The mission statement is your personal constitution, and established yardstick by which everything else can be measured and evaluated. Such a compass offers you a sense of direction and security and at least allows you to adjust all your actions accordingly.

Here are some thoughts that can be included in the mission statement: “I enjoy my job as much as my family, and I will try to balance the time I spend with them. I value a just and fair community, and I’ll try political decisions to make my voice heard, be proactive when it comes to pursuing my life goals, and not be simply swept along by circumstances. “And so on.

Since this is a fundamental document in your life, you cannot bang it out overnight. It takes deep soul-searching and multiple paraphrasing before you get it right, and even then, it takes revision every now and then.


Habit Number Three: Put The First Thing First

Now that you have a mission, how then can you proactively take responsibility and implement it? Quite simply: by living it day after day.

Of course, it can be difficult and requires good time management amid your day-to-day hassles, roles, and relationships.

Unfortunately, most time management techniques focus on increasing efficiency, not improving effectiveness. However, the great news is, you do not need complicated techniques. Usually, it is enough to remember the simple maxim: “first things first.”

This means that you strictly prioritize everything you do so that the important things are always done first, while everything else is put aside and dealt with or delegated later.

Okay, but how do you know what things are important?

A good place to begin is to split all of your tasks into two dimensions: urgency and importance. This will result in a 2×2 matrix with four quadrants:

Quadrant 1 contains important and urgent tasks, such as crises, that need to be addressed immediately.

The second quadrant contains important but not urgent tasks, such as writing your mission statement, building important relationships, and planning for the future.

Quadrant three contains urgent but unimportant information, such as: For example, a phone rings while you are working on something else.

And in the fourth quadrant, there is information that is not important or urgent, so a waste of time.

Of these, number two is the most important quadrant to focus on. These sets of actions are the few that will eventually have a tremendous positive impact on your life. And if you work hard enough in the second quadrant, you will see a lot fewer crises in the first quadrant.

Regrettably, most people don’t know the importance of the second quadrant. For example, when the author worked with a group of mall managers, he found that while building relationships with store owners had the most significant positive effect, they still spent less than five percent of their time on it. Instead, they were constantly dealing with quadrant one things like reports, calls, and interruptions. Encouraged by the author, they decided to spend a third of their time with store owners, and the effect was enormous: satisfaction and rental income soar.

A good first step in carrying out this habit into your life is to identify an activity in the second quadrant that you have overlooked – one that would have a significant impact on your life if you did it right – and then more by written to do it.


Habit Number Four: Think “Win-Win”

What results do you typically look for when you interact with others?

A robust “win-lose” paradigm shapes most people’s worldviews. This means that they basically see every interaction with others, whether professional or private, as a competition in which they have to fight for most of the pie against each other.

But most life situations don’t have to be competitions. There is usually enough cake for everyone, and it is much better if all parties are working towards a “win-win” solution that benefits everyone rather than fighting for a “win-lose” outcome.

The major downside to the “win-lose” mentality is that when two people with this mentality meet, the situation usually becomes a “lose-lose” situation. After a fierce struggle, both sides lose. Meanwhile, the dog collects all of the cake that was sunk into the ground during the fight.

In addition, it is impossible to build a positive long-term relationship between two people who are in constant competition with each other.

For example, if your business sells services to a client and you advocate for a higher price with a strong win-lose mentality, you can add value to the business. But the customer will probably prefer to go somewhere else next time, so you lose out in the long run.

But if you think about win-win, you will find that you are building a lot of positive relationships as each interaction strengthens the relationship rather than undermining it. In the previous example, if you had asked for a mutually satisfactory offer instead, the customer would likely remember that you were honest – and they would come back next time and increase your long-term results.

Therefore, it is necessary to continue to negotiate and communicate until a solution is found that works for all parties. It is not an easy task. It takes both sensitivity and patience, but the payoff is a lasting positive relationship and the creation of a mutual trust that benefits all parties.

A good exercise to begin with is to think about an important relationship you want to have and develop a “win-win” mindset. Now consider yourself in the other person’s shoes and jot down what you think could be beneficial to them. Then, think about the results that would benefit you. Finally, get in touch with the other party and ask if they are ready to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Building Stable Relationships With Others Signifies Investing In Emotional Bank Accounts

A relationship with another is like an emotional bank account: by investing time, effort, and kindness, the account balance grows and reflects the growing trust between the two parties. In addition, a good balance means both parties are flexible, and any miscommunications are resolved quickly.

However, when the balance is zero, there is no flexibility, and the relationship is like a minefield: every word must be carefully chosen to avoid an explosive conflict.

So how do you increase your balance?

For example, a payment might be finding a win-win solution, keeping promises, or really listening to the other person with empathy.

On the other hand, a withdrawal would strive for a win-lose solution, break a promise, or only reluctantly listen to the other.

There are various good things you can do to build strong, lasting relationships:

* Always keep your promises.

* Be clear about what you want the other person to do.

* Be polite and responsive to small issues.

Another important protection is to maintain the greatest possible personal integrity. It means being loyal to those who are not around and never slandering or confidently revealing what they have told you. This will prove to those present that you can be trusted.

But perhaps one of the most vital deposits you can make is to try to understand others because with this deposit, you can find out what is important to them – and therefore what they see as deposits.

A friend of the author knew the importance of this type of deposit. Even though he wasn’t a baseball fan at all, he took his son on a road trip that summer to see all the major league teams play. It took some six weeks and was very expensive, but it also made their relationship a lot stronger. When asked if he loved baseball that much, his friend replied, “No, but I love my son so much.”

If you pull or make a withdrawal from the account, you have to find the courage to apologize sincerely. It takes a strong character to do so, and people are generally more than happy to forgive a repentant sinner.


Habit Number Five: First Try To Understand, Then To Be Understood

Imagine walking into a doctor’s office and the doctor distractedly listening to your description of your condition for the first few seconds before saying, “I’ve heard enough,” and giving you a prescription.

Or what if an optician gives you his own glasses without having to check your eyesight and claims that because he can see well with them, they should work for you too?

You probably wouldn’t trust his advice very much.

While these examples may seem surreal, we often behave the same in everyday life, especially when talking to others. We don’t really listen to them but project our own situation onto them and find quick fixes that we can “prescribe” for them.

In general, such advice is seldom welcome, as people usually only rely on a person’s judgment when they feel their situation has been fully understood.

So, if you desire to be respected as a listener and advisor, you have to develop the ability to feel empathy. It requires a paradigm shift from “I’m listening to be able to respond” to “I’m listening to really understand the person in front of me.”

Listening with empathy means putting yourself in the other’s frame of reference in order to understand them both intellectually and emotionally.

According to communication experts, the words we speak make up only 10% of our communication, while sounds make up 30% and our body language 60%. So, to practice empathic listening, don’t just listen to words; You have to pay attention to the feeling, behavior, and meaning behind it. One way to work with your empathic listening skills is to observe a conversation without hearing the words. What emotions do you think are communicated?

It takes effort and some time to master this skill, but the rewards later are worth it. As you learn to listen with empathy truly, you will find that many people are ready to open up to you and respond with your opinion and advice. They just need a good grateful listener before they can do it.


Habit Number Six: Create Synergies By Treating Others With Openness And Respect

Now we come to a habit for which all the previously learned habits have prepared for Synergizing. Synergy means a situation where many contributions result in a total amount that exceeds the individual’s total contribution. One plus one may be three or more.

How can you apply this principle in your own social interactions?

We all sees the world differently, and we all have our own strengths. You can harness the power of synergy by being open to others and appreciating these differences.

When people really synergize, they listen to each other, put themselves in each other’s shoes, and use each other’s contributions as a springboard to create something big. They are on the same page, trying to take on a challenge together, not against each other.

When David Lilienthal took over the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Commission after World War II, he brought together a group of very influential and capable people. Since Lilienthal knew each had their own goals, Lilienthal set aside several weeks for the group to get to understand each other better – to learn more about each other’s hopes, fears, and dreams. Many thought it was ineffective and criticized, but the basic human interaction helped the team develop an open, confident, and synergistic mindset. When disagreements arose, it was a genuine attempt to understand the other, not resistance, which resulted in a very respectful, creative, and productive experience.

The path to synergy begins with viewing your interactions with others as adventures. The outcome of this adventure may not be entirely in your control, but you need to embrace it with full openness.

It requires a lot of self-confidence but also the conviction that the common contribution of each individual can lead to something beautiful, even if the road is a little chaotic.

So, make a list of people you find it hard to talk to and think about their opinions. If you were more confident and open, could you find synergies between your point of view and others?


Habit Number Seven: Sharpen The Saw If You Want To Continue Sawing

If lumberjacks spent all their time chopping down trees without ever stopping to sharpen their saws, they would soon have tools so dull that they could no longer cut a single tree.

Likewise, if you never take a break to groom yourself, your effectiveness will be short-lived as you will tire easily and not be able to maintain the good habits you have acquired.

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For this reason, “sharpening your saw” is essential for continued effectiveness in each of the four most important dimensions of your life:

To stay in shape, you need to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and avoid unnecessary stress.

Your sanity also contributes to long-term performance. It could be a prayer, a meditation, or just a periodic reflection on your own standards and values.

To stay sane, read lots of good books, avoid spending too much time in front of the TV screen, and take the time to write to your own in one form or another – be it a letter, poem, or magazine. Planning and organizing stuff are also an excellent exercise to keep your mind fresh and sharp.

Last but not least, it’s important to take care of your social and emotional health by consciously understanding others, building positive relationships with them, and working on projects that will improve their lives.

Consciously take the time to relax and rejuvenate. Many claim they can’t find the time to do it. Still, this is important for continued effectiveness and the associated benefits in terms of productivity and well-being in the long run.

To make sure you are really sharpening your saw, write down activities in each of the four dimensions that can contribute to your well-being. Then choose one activity at a time as your goal for the week, and then rate your performance. This will help you aspire to balanced innovation in all areas.

summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Adopt these seven habits for lasting effectiveness:

* Be proactive: You have a natural urge to influence the world around you, so don’t spend your time reacting only to external events and circumstances. Instead, take charge of yourself and assume responsibility for your life.

* Start with a goal in mind: Do not live your life working thoughtlessly, tackling whatever job comes to hand. Have a vision for the future and adjust your actions to make it a reality.

* Put first things first: To prioritize your work, focus on the essentials – the things that bring you nearer to your vision for the future. Do not get confused by quick but ultimately unimportant tasks.

* Think win-win: When negotiating with others, do not try to get the bulk of the pie, but find a fair and beneficial distribution to all parties. You will always get your part while building solid and positive relationships in the process.

* Understand first, then to be understood: When someone presents us with a problem, we often immediately prescribe a solution. It is a mistake. We first need to take the time to really listen to each other and only then make recommendations.

* Synergize: Adopt the guiding principle that several contributions will exceed the sum of the individual contributions. This way, you can achieve goals that you could never have achieved on your own.

* Sharpen the saw: Don’t kill yourself working. Instead, strive for a sustainable lifestyle that gives you time to relax and rejuvenate in order to be effective over the long term.

We’re just scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the original book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey,” order it here now on Amazon to learn the juicy details.

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