Book Review "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey

 | September 24,2010 03:47 pm IST

About the Book

The book basically talks about a chain of simple habits which, when implemented, can positively transform and enrich people's lives by lending them an altogether new perspective to view the world. Rich with experiences of the author, the book lightly breezes through the mantra that can set the foundation and contribute to the growth and development of an individual.

Termed as an immensely helpful self-help guide-book, the principles discussed in it are universal and find easy application in our day-to-day life.


About the Author

Recognized as one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey has authored a number of motivational books which illustrate how, through his powerful and straight-forward guidance, an individual can be empowered to take charge of his/her destiny. An internationally revered figure, Covey did his MBA from Harvard Business School and followed it up with a doctorate from Brigham Young University. Other books by Covey include 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families' and 'The Eighth Habit'.



This 358-page book, through its seven chapters, gives a new definition to the term 'effective' and embodies fundamental principles that contribute to effectiveness of an individual. What is remarkable is the manner in which the author discusses decisions that are primary and yet so powerful, that internalizing them can actually pave one's path to happiness and success.


Unlike most management books, 'The Seven Habits...' does not target any specific reader group. Conversely, the fluidity of its language ensures that this store-house of information can easily be read by anyone and everyone!

In its introductory chapter, the book emphasizes on the importance of a 'paradigm shift', i.e., a quantum change in the lens through which we see the world. Describing 'habits' as an intersection of three components (knowledge, skill and desire), the chapter goes on to explain how the three can be used to empower an individual to maximize and garner long term beneficial results.


Chapter 1 says that 'Being Proactive' is the first step towards our ultimate goal of becoming effective. Here, the author clarifies that being proactive doesn't just mean taking initiative, but assuming charge, responsibility and accountability for the things around us. To illustrate further, Covey discusses how Habit 1 phenomenally influences the very paradigm which distinguishes between what we can or can not do. Here, the author skillfully makes use of tables and diagrams to demarcate the areas in which a person should or should not should focus his/her time or energy (Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence).


The second chapter highlights Habit 2, which is to 'Begin with the End in Mind', i.e., to work backwards from an end to the process. Citing examples of parenting and organizations, Covey explains that a clear aim (end) in mind makes it easy to don the role of a leader and further illustrates how by drawing up a principle-based Personal Mission Statement, an individual can be empowered with timeless strength, particularly, of the kind that enables him/her to swim against the tide.


The chapter then discusses the independent forces (security, guidance, wisdom and power) which work at the heart of Center of Influence, and highlights how immense strength can be derived by making correct principles the benchmarks of our life.


'The Power of an Independent Will' is the central theme of the subsequent chapter (Chapter 3). Here, Covey skillfully inter-weaves the concept of personal integrity with independent will and elaborates on how the former helps determine the degree to which we develop the latter.


Borrowing from the mathematical field, the author then draws up a '2X2 Time Management Matrix' and says that depending on the level of importance we attach with each activity, all our activities can be categorized and fitted into one of these four slots. The essence of the chapter remains that it is both possible and desirable that we prioritize our activities.


At the same time, Covey cautions against use of such a tight demarcation while dealing with the human element. "Ultimately, while dealing with people, it is not efficiency, but effectiveness, that needs to be achieved," he says.


In the second part of the book, the author coins a term called an 'Emotional Bank Account' and discusses how impulsive decisions can impact on the 'deposits' and 'withdrawals' made to and from this account.


The fourth chapter describes six paradigms of human interaction and draws up a comparative analysis of all six by giving real life examples. After carefully weighing the pros and cons of each dimension, Covey makes it clear that in a world of interdependent realities, 'Win Win' is the only real and universally applicable alternative.


What is interesting is that even while emphasizing on the importance of 'Win Win', the author takes a pragmatic stance by subscribing to the view that in certain situations, 'No Deal' (or no consensus) is the only choice before us.




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Narendra singh mehra on 12/12/10 at 02:32 pm

7 habits of stephen r. Covey is beneficial for us. I m going n trying this book.

Very very Thanks to Stephen R. Covey....