Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by StephenCovey

ISBN 0671708635
	I. From Dependence to Independence 
		(1) BeProactive 
		(2) BeginWithTheEndInMind 
		(3) Put FirstThingsFirst 
	II. From Independence to Interdependence 
		(4) ThinkWinWin 
		(5) SeekFirstToUnderstand, Then to Be Understood 
		(6) SynerGize 
	III. Continuous Improvement 
		(7) SharpenTheSaw 

This is an excellent book. It is probably the best book on TimeManagement and life-skills written to this day. StephenCovey re-introduces TheCharacterEthic, which he claims has fallen to the wayside, being replaced by ThePersonalityEthic of modern times.

He's wrong; it never existed in the first place. But what do I know? I reject the very existence of successful people, and the possibility of success. - JayOsako

It does exist, simply by virtue of stating it existed. Since it's just a philosophy, it doesn't need anyone to practice it to be what it says it is. - JamesAguilar
See FourQuadrants for a discussion of the one of the more intriguing concepts in the book. (Refactored 8/11/2001)
Another concept that pervades the book is what he calls the P-PC balance which roughly means (please correct if necessary): P is Productivity, and PC is the Productivity Capability. It is easy to get these out of balance and spend too much time on one or the other.

Too much "P" means doing a lot of work inefficiently; too much "PC" means focusing on efficiency/design/process but getting very little work done.
Sometimes WalkingTheWiki is QuadrantTwo, but mostly it's QuadrantFour, which says a lot about how well I actually follow the SevenHabitsOfHighlyEffectivePeople. -- RobHarwood
There is much profundity in StephenCovey's writings. I have suffered much by trying to put it into practice.

Here is something that Covey does not address. (Sorry, but to keep this short, I'm going to use simplistic, pop-psychology terminology.) What if you're not the rigid, left-brain sort of corporate plod that Covey is writing to? What if, every time you make a schedule just the way he says, you find agony in switching tasks the way the schedule requires? You really want to focus on the QuadrantTwo task right now, when it makes the most sense to do it, but the inner chorus won't stop debating the topic that's gripped your mind the last few days. What if you can't BeginWithTheEndInMind because you don't know in advance some final goal that you're sure is both what you want and feasible? What about the fact that virtually everything new and wonderful has grown from exactly the sort of chaotic screwing around that has no place in a life ruled by a Franklin-Covey Day Timer?

For right-brained types, I highly recommend JulieMorgenstern?'s book, Organizing from the Inside Out. It addresses all the issues around matching your schedule, your environment, and your personal work style. Covey touches on these a little bit in FirstThingsFirst, but his approach there is still very structured. It simply won't work for everyone.--KatherineDerbyshire

Here's my amateur psychoanalysis: Sounds like you're suffering from chronic procrastination, which I suffer from as well. I'd like to recommend TheProcrastinatorsHandbook, which helped me identify the root causes of my procrastination and give me hope for the future. Once I know I have a problem (and what the root cause is), it's only a matter of time before I solve it. The problem boils down to a) realizing that I have a problem, and b) finding the true root cause of it.

A good example of this was reading about CarbohydrateAddiction, and realizing how it described my eating habits with extreme precision. As soon as I understood the root cause of my overeating, I was able to begin controlling it by using the CarbohydrateAddictsDiet.

The funny thing about discovering you have a problem is that you typically feel a great sense of relief! It's quite amazing.

Let us say there are two types of people (although in reality each person has both types inside themselves). Type I is the type that Covey is and the type that find this kind of approach to life to be helpful; type II is the the others. Why is it that the Type II are quite happy that Type I carry on as they are, whereas the Type I want to change the Type II? Could it be that the Type I people find themselves continually cleaning up after the messes made by the Type II people? No, type I people just like to see themselves as martyrs (I'm the only organized one, so I have to do everything!). What they don't understand is most things in life don't need to be scheduled or planned. The things that do need to be scheduled are a very minor subset of the things you do in a business day, much less life.


Another reply to the question of application by right-brainers: I sympathize. I've tried scheduling for quite awhile, and it's taken me a long time to get myself to do it.

I think the central problem was realizing that a schedule doesn't lock you in. A lot of people see a schedule as a walled corridor that must be followed exactly. A schedule should be a path through a field, which shows you a good way through, but from which you can deviate if you so choose. After all, it's your schedule; if you don't follow it, Covey won't leap out of a cubbyhole and beat you. There are (should be) no consequences to deviating wildly from your schedule or plans. You just won't get done what you expected to.

Likewise, choosing the "End" should not be constricting, nor should it be a precise, complete event. The idea is not to visualize Nirvana and then progress towards it; the idea is to visualize some positive goals that you want to achieve (as many of them as possible). Rather than worrying that you've found the best possible End, find a good End and progress towards that. The Seven Habits won't lock you into a path; you can completely change course at any time, if you want to.

The central point behind Seven Habits-style scheduling is to identify the truly important areas in your life (and that list can be very long), then do what you can to ensure that you're spending appropriate amounts of time supporting those areas. This way, you'll minimize sidetracking into unimportant issues. Ideally. -- BrentNewhall

I too have suffered by trying to put Covey into practice, for at least 2 decades now. I have given up long ago. But it continues to haunt me. I think it has made me neurotic in a sense, and unnecessarily paranoid. Earlier, I had a more simplistic model: I believed in God, I believed in asking him for help, and I put in my best efforts. Whatever results I got, I was either happy or sad depending upon it. I regrouped again, prayed again, and committed myself again.

With Covey, I get stuck at "BeginWithTheEndInMind"...and have not been able to really forward from thereon. Oh, well.


The biggest message I got from the book (and its sister volume FirstThingsFirst) is that it's important to start with your values. TheCharacterEthic says you will only be productive if you adhere to your core values. If you believe that everything new and wonderful has grown from exactly the sort of chaotic screwing around then you owe it to yourself to make time for screwing around. It's not either/or: it's both. You decide.

It's a lot more liberating (and scary) than allowing the clock, your boss, or GoldenHandcuffs decide your life.

I think the book gets a bad rap because it was on the PointyHairedBosses reading list for so long. They go through the motions without understanding the deeper message. You just hope they get it someday.

I couldn't agree more. His discussion of influence spheres was the key to my decision to change jobs and I am so much happier for it. It lead me to realize that I knew how I would need to be behave to get ahead and that behavior went against my values. So, I found a new influence sphere

I feel that CargoCult management is often the norm --pjl
This works for me when I do it: Take one 3x5 card, positioned short side to the top. Write on it a list of things to accomplish. Think about what's really important as well as urgent, and put those things on there. One card only. If the list is too long, go over it until you have one card only.

Over the course of the day, or a week, look at the card, do something on it. Most everything on it can be done in relatively short time. Cross things off. Things get done, and I feel less incompetent.

I do this. I have a little book which I write the lists in, with pages for phone numbers and whatever else is needed to pick up where I left off. Its like a micro-daybook.
I read this book several years ago. It made intellectual sense, but did not resonate. I believe I was not ready for it.

I have since stumbled upon an approach to self improvement that works for me. In other words (independent of the book) I started with habit 7: sharpen the saw. With my new method of slow and steady self improvement, I am now ready to reread this book, and incorporate the parts of it that apply to me. So perhaps (for people like me) habit 7 should be habit 1, or at least part of habit 1: "be proactive and continually improve".

And applying this to software, it is also my belief that a system of continuous improvement should be first in the CapabilityMaturityModel, not last. (See WikiPagesAboutSayWhatYouDo)

P.S. - The improvement system that works for me is to CollectWhatWorks.
I learned about this as "The 7 Habits of Highly Defective People." Heh.
My take on this book and Covey's methods, after going through the course some years ago, is that, for me at least, it advocates turning your entire life into a job. It might work for some, but the structure is too much for me. Imposing such frameworks can really cause a kind of tunnel vision to what is possible in life, but that's my own experience. If it works for you, great!
For a counterpoint to the effectiveness of WinWin, see StartWithNo.
Has anyone tried the scheduling software sold by www.franklincovey.com? I was both surprized and amused by its quality and usability, which in my humble opinion looked... err... well below par. --AlexeyVerkhovsky
See also: TimeManagement
CategoryBook CategoryEmployment

EditText of this page (last edited October 6, 2014) or FindPage with title or text search