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7 Habits of Highly Effective People - 1989

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’

After nearly thirty years since publication, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is still very

much current and relevant to all professionals and their business habits. So why after all this time

and after numerous other self help books am I drawn to this particular book?

Steven Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989, this was a contemporary

style of writing, a new genre almost “the self help book” was birthed, I appreciate their have been

many since, all with their own particular spin or direction. Yet Steven Covey’s advice is timeless,

and not just lessons in business but everyday life, at the heart of this book we learn of our everyday

habits which in turn make us who we are. The book challenges our own perceptions and biases,

detailing how by changing our perceptions through certain habits we can change our lives for the

better. In short, if we want to change ourselves, our behaviours, we have to modify our perceptions.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, doesn't simply stipulate that you have to cut out the bad

habits and merely live a perfect live based solely on good habits, that would be naive and

practically impossible. However what it does focus on how you can build up your good habits to

overtake your bad ones, rather than trying to eliminate bad habits in isolation. He also

acknowledges that many good habits do not necessarily come naturally and must be learned. To be

effective, you have to tap into your values. often we are not even aware of our negative habits, they

are just recreations of what we have been shown or surrounded by, it is about not being a product of

your environment. Often business minds all have the answers within they just need a little guidance

to find them. Covey is honest in his approach, this book isn't a quick fix it discusses a process that

has various time constraints depending on the individual and how quickly they can apply them.

Covey shares his seven habits;

Be proactive

Begin with the end in mind

Put first things first

Think win-win

Seek first to understand, then to be understood


Sharpen the saw

Habit 1: Be proactive

This is the ability to control one's environment rather than have it control you, as is so often the

case. Self-determination, choice, and the power to decide how you respond to stimulus, conditions

and circumstances. Do you accept responsibility for your actions?

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

Covey calls this the habit of personal leadership – leading oneself towards what you consider your

aims. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities, you will build a platform to

avoid distractions and become more productive and successful. What legacy do you want to leave


Habit 3: Put first things first

Covey calls this the habit of personal management. This is about organising and implementing

activities in line with the aims established in habit 2. Covey says that habit 2 is the first or mental

creation; habit 3 is the second or physical creation. For example, are you spending time with people

that matter? Who is your power of six? What types of people are you surrounding yourself with? I

want to be surrounded by people more successful then myself, people who can guide and coach me,

I want to learn from those who are better at this moment in time, not just in business but in my

personal life too! Great husbands, fathers, coaches. If I am surrounded by positive influences than

in time as long as I learn and apply their habits and actions, I too will be better.

Habit 4: Think win-win

Covey calls this the habit of interpersonal leadership necessary because achievements largely

depend on cooperative efforts with others. He says that win-win is based on the assumption that

there is plenty for everyone. So how do you develop a collaborative approach? I hate the notion that

business needs to be cutthroat, and that you have to be tough to get to the top. I never wanted to lose

my morales in order to be successful and I certainly wouldn't jeopardise my integrity to make

money. True success is seeing your team succeed, being a tiny part of someones personal

development is drive enough.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand and then to be understood

One of the great maxims of the modern age. This is Covey's habit of communication, and it's

extremely powerful. Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy, 'diagnose before you

prescribe'. It's simple and effective and essential for developing and maintaining positive

relationships in all aspects of life. Are you genuinely listening? often in business we witness hard

coaching; screaming, shouting etc. A scolded child doesn't develop, they simply live in fear, and are

afraid to try in case they fail. This is also true in business, potential can be destroyed through

negative coaching. Yet simply by listening to others struggles, challenges, obstacles, you are able to

prescribe the correct antidote, enabling them to grow.

Habit 6: Synergise

Covey says this is the habit of creative cooperation – the principle that the whole is greater than the

sum of its parts, which implicitly lays down the challenge to see the good and potential in the other

person's contribution. Edification is so important, people want to be appreciated, simply by

acknowledging another’s contribution with the room makes them feel valued.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

This is the habit of self-renewal, and it necessarily surrounds all the other habits, enabling and

encouraging them to happen and grow. Covey interprets the self into four parts: the spiritual,

mental, physical and social/emotional, which all need feeding and developing. Often we are so busy

managing all aspects of life that we burn ourselves out. You can not continuously develop others

without nurturing yourself, take support when its given, take time to recharge and sharpen yourself.

A blunt saw isn't good for many things.

I have a relatively large collection of business books, self help and the like, and despite the vast

amount of books written on this particular subject I find myself checking into the simple effective

advice offered from Steven Covey in his book, The 7 habits of Highly Effective People. ~ Boyd Parker


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