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

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“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” offers seven habits that can help you reach your full potential. The habits are presented in an enlightening and insightful way with practical principles that can benefit both your personal and professional life.

If you’re someone who wants to succeed in different areas of life like having a successful career, a happy family, and a sense of achievement, then this book can help you. It provides valuable advice and anecdotes that can motivate you to develop a lifestyle that leads to success.

Do you ever feel like your goals are out of reach? This book can help you tap into your hidden potential and show you that anything is possible.

You do not have to read the entire book if you don’t have time. This book review provides an overview of everything you can learn from it.

Let’s get started without further ado.

What Are The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

A shortcut or trick that works only in certain circumstances isn’t self-improvement. According to Stephen R. Covey, developing strong habits based on guiding principles is the most meaningful way to improve your life and become more effective.

The seven habits of highly effective people are as follows:

  1. They are proactive.
  2. They are focused on long-term goals.
  3. They set their priorities.
  4. They focus on win-win situations.
  5. They communicate by seeking understanding and being understood.
  6. They cooperate with others.
  7. They reflect on their flaws and work to fix them.

By internalizing these imperatives and cultivating a commitment to them over time, you’ll gradually begin to reap the benefits of living an effective life.

How to Use The Book for Personal Development?

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a book that offers a framework for personal development based on principles that have enduring, permanent value. To benefit from this framework, it is important to understand the concept of principles and embrace a paradigm of freedom.

Embrace a Paradigm of Freedom:

The first step to using “The 7 Habits” is to embrace a paradigm of freedom. This means freeing yourself from the belief that your genes or past failures determine your future. Instead, focus on your ability to choose your actions and shape your own character. This paradigm of freedom empowers you to take control of your life and become the master of your own destiny.

Understand Your Ultimate Goal:

To be effective, you need to know what you’re working towards. This means understanding your ultimate goal and your motivation for pursuing it. Take the time to reflect on what you want to achieve and why it’s important to you. This will help you stay focused and motivated on your journey.

Develop Your Skills:

To achieve your ultimate goal, you need to develop the skills and knowledge required to get there. This means investing in your personal and professional development. Take courses, read books, and seek out mentors who can help you grow and improve.


Having a strong desire to achieve your goal is crucial for success. This means being willing to put in the hard work and make sacrifices to achieve your objectives. Without desire, you may lack the motivation to keep going when things get tough.

Work on Yourself:

The most important task you have is to work on yourself. This means focusing on your inner work and becoming the best version of yourself. When you become a master of your own thoughts, emotions, and actions, you can better navigate external influences and factors.

Focus on Production Capability:

While productivity is important, focusing solely on it can lead to neglecting production capability. Production capability is what makes productivity possible in the first place. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your relationships, so you can maintain your productivity over the long term.

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Key Insights

Here’re the seven principles for personal and interpersonal effectiveness:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Highly effective people take the initiative, they are proactive and do not set limits on themselves that prevent them from acting. They are aware of the fact that they can determine what kind of character they will have because they have the freedom to decide how to act. People may not be able to change their circumstances, but they can decide whether to let those circumstances abuse them or use them for their own interests. These people live according to the principles of personal vision.

The author illustrates this situation with the experiences of Viktor Frankl as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. His family, except for one sibling, was murdered in the camps.

Despite the horrific circumstances, Frankl realized that he was not a prisoner – he was free because he had free will and could decide how he wanted to think and act under those circumstances. Even when he was starving, he imagined himself as a lecturer in a classroom telling students about his horrific experiences and what he learned from them.

Frankl’s mental discipline made him stronger than the power of the camp guards. He managed to inspire other prisoners and even some of the camp guards. He was a proactive person who took the initiative and accepted his circumstances and the responsibility for his fate. He realized that he could control and decide his own future. Frankl was not strong enough to leave the camp, but he was strong enough to master it.

People can become proactive by exercising statements of initiative and responsibility, such as :

  • Change “I can’t do anything” with, “but let’s think about some options.”
  • Change “That’s just me” with, “but I can change the way I am.”
  • Change “He drives me up the wall” with, “but I can choose how I’ll let him affect me.”
  • Change “I can’t, or I have to” with, “but I will decide, and I will choose.”

Proactive people seek what they can do, and they do it. They take responsibility, act, and expand the realm of possibility as much as possible. Over time, they grow stronger so that they can do more and more. They commit to changing their inner selves and eventually change the world in which they live.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

People who want to be highly effective think very carefully about their goals. Most people spend their entire lives focusing on goals that are meaningless, unsatisfying, or even destructive.

These are the people who appear in the tabloid magazines; they are rich and famous, but get arrested for drug use or watch their marriages fall apart. They desired power, fame, and money, but the price was too high. Being productive is not only about achieving your goals, but also about achieving the right goals.

People need to implement personal leadership. They can start by creating a personal mission statement. This should outline the goals and the kind of person one wants to be. In drafting this mission statement, people should think carefully about themselves and examine their behaviors and character-whether they are self-centered, money-hungry, workaholics, or whatever.

Then they need to decide what part they want to change and what they want to become. Finally, they must write down that statement and commit to change and keep that commitment.

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Habit 3: Put First Things First

All people have the power to change who they are, but to do so they must change their behavior. It is critical not to compromise priorities and allow them to go to the bottom of the list.

Many people also spend extra time and energy responding to emergencies, but they never develop their skills to prevent those emergencies from happening in the first place. These people confuse critical circumstances with urgent ones. The urgent is easy to recognize, but the important is more difficult.

People need to practice their planning skills and avoid pitfalls. Building relationships, cultivating opportunities and getting enough rest are also important. For example, they should not cram too much business into a tight schedule, but find ways to spend time on what is important.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Interpersonal leadership is useful both in marriage and in business or other relationships with people. In this way, both parties can become winners, and two wins improve everyone’s situation, just as two losses worsen it. A situation where someone wins and someone loses creates a loser and a winner.

Thus, one person is harmed. Highly effective people make all parties better off. Any other kind of situation that is not for gain is destructive because there are losers. As a result, there are enemies and many bad feelings, including defeat, hostility, and animosity.

Highly productive people become like this by making sure they increase their allies instead of having enemies; a good alliance is a win-win situation.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Communication always involves two parties. To have a win-win alliance, people need to understand, then they want to be understood. This means that in a win-win relationship, you must first find out what the other party wants, what they see as a win, and what it means to them.

You can not make assumptions, you have to be open and listen. You must always try to understand the other person’s wants and needs before clearly stating your own goals. When listening to your interlocutor, it is important not to disagree, contradict or argue with what is being said.

You have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Lawyers often write the most substantive cases from the opponent’s point of view. Only after they understand the other side’s best arguments can they formulate their own case. This tactic can be applied to other relationships as well, such as personal or business relationships. This is called the “principles of empathetic communication.”

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Habit 6: Synergize

Creative cooperation is a significant force because it multiplies power. It can be compared to an arch that can support more weight than two pillars. This effect is described by the word “synergy”, which means that the joining of parts into a whole is always stronger than the sum of the individual components.

Effective synergy depends on communication. When people hear and react reflexively instead of listening, thinking about what they hear, and then reacting, synergy is impossible.

Because acting reflexively means they are authoritarian, defensive, or passive, either agreeing or resisting, either way, it means they are not cooperating. Cooperation and communication are the two pillars that form the arch; they are the legs of a synergy: listening, reflecting, reacting, and actively cooperating.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

A man is sawing wood. The work is tedious and progresses slowly. The man becomes very tired, but the more he saws, the smaller the cuts become. A passerby who sees the man thinks about this and suggests that he should take a break to sharpen the saw.

To this, the man replies that he cannot take a break to sharpen the saw because he is far too busy sawing. A dull saw makes work tedious, tiring, and unproductive. Highly effective people take a break to sharpen their saws or their tools – like body, mind, soul, and heart.

People who are highly effective focus on exercises that combine flexibility, endurance, and strength. This plan is easy to implement and does not require a gym membership. Effective people use meditation and prayer to take care of their souls, or perhaps they listen to music or read great literature. The spiritual dimension is crucial as it provides energy for the rest of your life.

The second dimension or ‘saw’ that needs sharpening is the mind. Spiritual repair requires a change in habits, such as watching TV. People who watch television are encouraged to passively adopt values, dispositions, and attitudes that dull their minds.

Finally, the heart concerns with feelings and emotions. Through the development of the heart, commitment to others and emotional connections grow. In everything people do, they should put others first and try to make them better. By following these principles, anyone can transform into a highly effective person.

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1. Principle-Centered Approach to Effectiveness

One of the most striking aspects of this book is its principle-centered approach to effectiveness. Unlike many other self-help books, which focus on quick fixes and behavioral changes, Covey emphasizes the importance of building a solid foundation of character and inner motivation. He argues that true success and fulfillment come from aligning our actions with our principles, and that only by doing so can we achieve lasting change.

The book lays out seven habits that are essential for this type of principle-centered living, including being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, and seeking first to understand, then to be understood. By focusing on these habits, we can cultivate the self-awareness, discipline, and empathy necessary to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

2. The Concept of Interdependence

Another powerful theme of the book is the concept of interdependence. While many self-help books promote independence as the ultimate goal, Covey argues that true success and happiness come from building strong relationships with others and working collaboratively towards shared goals.

Through the seven habits, Covey shows us how to move from dependence to independence and then to interdependence. He emphasizes the importance of seeking win-win solutions, recognizing and valuing the strengths of others, and building trust and cooperation in our personal and professional relationships.

3. Perspective Shifts

Finally, the book is filled with powerful insights and perspective shifts that can transform the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. One of the most profound lessons I took away from the book is the idea that “how you see the problem is the problem.”

Covey shows us how to shift our perspective from a reactive, victim mentality to a proactive, problem-solving mentality. By doing so, we can free ourselves from the negative emotions and limiting beliefs that hold us back and start seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.


1. Filler and Preachiness

One common criticism of the book is that it contains a lot of filler material that could have been condensed or omitted. Some readers find that Covey’s writing style is overly preachy and dogmatic, making it difficult to engage with the material. The frequent references to the Bible and church may also be off-putting to some readers.

Furthermore, some of the anecdotes and examples used in the book can feel contrived or too convenient, making it difficult to take the message seriously. In general, readers may find that the book could benefit from more authenticity and a less preachy tone.

2. Focus on Parenting and Corporations

Another criticism of the book is that it can feel too focused on parenting and corporate environments. While the principles outlined in the book can certainly be applied to other areas of life, such as personal relationships and self-improvement, some readers may feel that the examples and advice given are too heavily skewed towards these particular contexts.

Moreover, some readers may find that the book reads like a long sales pitch for corporations, which could be off-putting for those who are looking for more general life improvement tips.

3. Religious Overtones

Finally, the religious overtones of the book can be a turn-off for some readers. While the principles outlined in the book are not necessarily tied to any specific religion, the frequent references to the Bible and church may be distracting or unnecessary for those who do not share Covey’s religious background.


“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” offers a principle-centered approach to effectiveness, focusing on improving your character and inner motivation, rather than just changing your behavior or attitude. Whether you’re seeking personal growth or professional success, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to improve themselves and their relationships with others.

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About The Author

Stephen Covey was a highly successful businessman, lecturer, and author who wrote two popular books – The Leader in Me and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His exceptional career was recognized in 1996 when TIME Magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential Americans.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Quotes

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”


“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”


“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.”


“Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.”


“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

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If you want to buy the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you can get it from the following links:

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