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Review of 7 habits of highly effective people

Who would not like to become more effective? So I read the famous and popular book from Stephen R Covery, and here is my own takeaways.


The 7 habits of effective people  describe how to live life in harmony with your inner values, while getting things done. It teaches you 7 fundamental habits that is never conquered, but is refined over time. It describes a spiral, in how we refine and adjust as we reach new understanding. It defines the habits in three major groups – Private Victory , Public Victory and Renewal. The main theme is that we need to have an inner confidience and security, to be able to reach into other people, and establish relationships that is of gret more value than the single individual.

The habits are as follows:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharepen the saw

Private Victory

Be Proactive

One of the fundamentals here is that there is a gap between stimulus and respons.

We are driven by an inner script, that determines how we react. This is not necessary the right script, and we can change this.

This says, that when we get stimulated, we actually has freedom to chose how to response. This freedom is possible by self-awarness, imagination, conscience and independent will.

In our language and behaviour we can be proactive if we want. We can say lets look at the alternatives, instead of there is nothing I can do. We can say I prefer instead of I must.

This also comes with our surroundings. We have the circle of concern, and we have the circle of influence. We can see that there is things we have direct control over, and things outside our control. By focusing on circle of influence, we get more proactive, and working on something we can control.

A key here is to make and keep promises – to ourself.

Begin with the end in mind

This habit is showing personal leadership. This makes you create your own values and goals. This makes you connected to your inner values. It is where you define your center, and everything comes out of your center. People can have different centers, like money, family etc. However, if we seek to be Principle centered, we are able to see and compare what is the right thing to do. Your principles will tell you what is right and what is wrong, and as this is your center, you will be in harmony with yourself when making decisions.

The outcome of this habit is your mission statement. It is a product of your inner vision and your right brain. This is the leadership, the direction and your fundamental core.

Put first things first

This is your execution. This is your ability to manage your life. This is where you live habit 1 and habit 2.

In this chapter it is mostly about how you manage your time. The author introduces the time management matrix as follows:

1. Urgent  & Important 2. Nonurgent & Important
3. Urgent  & Nonimportant 4. Nonurgent & Nonimportant

#1 is crisis management and pressing problems

#2 is the long-term strategic important things that will prevent issues in #1

#3 is the interruptions

#4 is the pleasant time wasters

The goal of this is to work in #2, and as little as possible in #1. Always think of how you can turn something from #1 into #2.

The author introduces the P/PC metaphor for this. P is the Product and PC is the product creator.

If we get someone to be a PC, then we dont have to produce everything ourselves. The other part is that we can destroy the PC, if we are not carefull, and only focus on P. Always try to find the PC for the task at hand, and understand this relationship.

If you can invest time and get more people to be PC, then you are magnifying your impact and time.

Here it talks about delegation. It talks about Gofer delegation, where we focus on the what – each and every step, and not the outcome. The other delegation is Stewardship delegation. Here we focus more on the outcome, and we let people find their own way. To make this work we have resources, accountability and consequences. Resources is human, financial, technical or organizational. Accountability tells how performance will be evaluated, and when. Consequences specify what will happen as a result of the evaluation.

Another important teaching here is the power of No. Saying No is saying Yes to something else.

Lastly, it sketches a Weekly schedule with the goals and priorities for the week. It focuses on your different roles, and makes you focus on importance, not only time.

Public Victory

Think Win/Win

There is six paradigms of human interaction:

  • Win/Win
  • Win/Lose
  • Lose/Win
  • Lose/Lose
  • Win
  • Win/Win or No deal

The strongest here is Win/Win, and should be seeked first. However, there is situations where we can choose otherwise.

There is five dimensions to win/win:

  1. Character
  2. Relationships
  3. Agreements
  4. Supportive Systems
  5. Processes

Character is about having integrity(know our values so we know what is a win for us), maturity (as a balance between courage and consideration) and abundance mentality (plenty out there for everyone)

From the foundation of character, we build the relationships. This is based on that thought that we establish an Emotional Bank Account in relationships. This Emotional Bank Account is where we deposit and whitdraw trust(credibility) with other people. This is based on keeping promises, being honest, having good intentions and being sincere.

Out of relationships come win/win agreements.

Five elements is made very explicit for win/win agreements:

  1. Desired results = (not methods) focus on outcome, what is to be done and when
  2. Guidelines = specify parameters (principles, policies etc) within results are to be accomplished
  3. Resources = identify human, financial, technical or organizational support available
  4. Accountability=standards of performance and time of evaluation
  5. Consequences=good and bad – what happens as a result of evaluation

Systems say that we get what we reward. The system need to be targeted for win/win mentality.

Processes is the approach, and it is best summarized in the following four steps:

  1. See the problem from the other point of view. Really seek to understand
  2. Identify the key issues and concerns (not positions)
  3. Determine the results that constitute a fully acceptable solution
  4. Identify possible new options to achieve those results

Seek first to understand, then to be understood

In relationships we often listen to reply, instead of listen to understand. By being open, and really listen, and try to understand what the message really is, we will establish a much better relationship. Also, we will be able to come to the core of the issue, because we establish understanding and trust. We are not forcing our view or answer onto someone, we are really trying to help.

The Greek had the following philosophy that can summarize this: ethos, pathos,logos

Ethos= personal credibility, faith people have in you (your character)

Pathos=your empathic side, emotional trust (your relationship)

Logos=the logic, the reasoning of the presentation (your logic)


This is where we accept that together we can achieve something more than alone.

All your life has prepared you for this moment …. Synergy

It states synergy is everywhere in nature, how the whole is stronger than the sum of parts.

One plus one equals three or more.

By spending time establishing the emotional bank account, it will be easier to get synergy.

To gain the best results, one have to have high trust, and high cooperation will.

By seeking to value differences instead of fighting them.


Sharpen the saw

Taking the time to sharpen the saw, and be able to self-renewal is important.

This surrounds the other habits, and it is focusing on 4 dimensions

  1. Physical (tone) (good animal)(business:economic)
  2. Mental (autonomy) (good craftsman)(business:development of people, usage of people)
  3. Social/emotional (connectedness) (good friend)(business:how people are treated)
  4. Spiritual (perspective) (saint)(business:the service, the contribution)

The goal of sharpening the saw is to go in an upward spiral, where we LEARN->COMMIT->DO

This is how we keep progressing…

For me the book was very clarifying, I will use this book for my strategic thinking in how to achieve results. I definitively value other peoples views more after reading this book, and as such, I think the book will have lasting impact on me.


See the book at Amazon.com here

BY : Ragnar Harper March 16, 2016 0 Comment

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