The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Will Melt Your Fucking
One Line Summary
7 habits to rule them all
Why it’s Awesome
There are few people better known in the self-development industry than Stephen Covey. If you’ve ever heard the terms “abundance mentality” or “proactive”, you can thank this guy. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People alone has sold over 25 million copies. So you don’t need me to tell you that this book is awesome. But I’m going to do it anyway because I love talking about this shit.
Covey starts off the book by laying the foundation for understanding the habits. He talks about patience and the importance of paradigm shifts. Paradigm shifting is what you’re doing by reading this book. It’s completely changing your mental map of the world.
Let’s get into the habits themselves. The first three are individual skills and the last four are people skills.
The first habit is Proactivity. A proactive person is the opposite of a victim. They focus and act on what they have control over instead of letting life dictate the circumstances to them. They don’t complain about lack of time, they find a way to make time.
Execute. No fucking excuses. Just find a way no matter what.
The second habit is Begin with the End in Mind. Once you know you can execute, you have to know what your goals are. And so you begin to formulate values and vision for yourself. You become your own personal leader, being driven not by circumstances but your own ideas.
The third habit is Put First Things First. Way too many people have their priorities fucked up. They want to be a writer, but they don’t actually make sure they have time to sit down and write every day. Their time management is all wrong
Fourth habit is Think Win/Win. This is where Covey makes the transition from personal skills to people skills. Win/Win is a scenario where both you the person you are attempting to work with come out on top. Trade is a perfect example of this. If I give my friend a book I’ve read in exchange for book he’s read, that’s Win/Win. Both people get what they want.
This blog is my attempt at Win/Win. I provide in depth free quality content for you guys and in exchange I get to read books I love, write about them and make money doing it. Everybody wins.
The fifth habit is Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. So many people hear when other people talk but aren’t actually listening. They are just waiting for their turn to reply. This habit is about understanding the other person’s point of view by rephrasing and reflecting back what they saying. You truly empathize with what the other person is saying instead of just judging it and attempting to assert your own agenda.
Once the person feels like they’ve been understood and their position empathized, then you can begin to explain your opinions. Anyone who is successful is sales or business understands this concept. How can you sell to someone until you know what it is they’re looking for?
The sixth habit is Synergy. It’s a law of nature that the whole is much more powerful than the sum of its parts. Thus, you want people to act synergistically, not against each other.
Think of an army. Each soldier alone is not worth very much. But when you combine a bunch of soldiers, suddenly large range of possibilities open up. You can utilize battle formations and work in a way that would have never been possible alone.
The last habit is the habit to cultivate all the habits. It’s the habit of Sharpen the Saw. Sharpening the Saw refers to the idea that you want to always be working on developing yourself. Never stop learning and growing.
Sharpen the Saw is potentially the most important habit on this list. People have been so conditioned by society to seek completion so they can just relax. And it makes sense. Most people feel overwhelmed and overworked. They just so badly want to cash out so they never have to work again.
But the world is always changing. Businesses that were titans in their industry come crashing down. Relationships between men and women are hot and passionate and dissipate. Desiring completion is to fight an impossible battle against the fundamental law of universal impermanence. And yet still people persist.
Truly long term successful people understand this. They understand that success must be re-earned every day. Any skill you have that you don’t practice will atrophy. New competitors with new innovative technology are always right around the corner. Will you keep up?
If this sounds terrifying to you, realize that the excitement of achieving goals is always fleeting. True fulfillment comes from enjoying the journey itself and the state of mind you get to inhabit as you grow.
Why Does It Suck
This is a damn near perfect book but there is one problem I have with it. You could argue that this is an extremely idealistic paradigm of business and reality. It’s almost the exact of what someone like Tim Grover or Robert Greene would preach. Their view of reality is a lot more Win/Lose, yet no one could doubt the effectiveness of either of those two men.
Business and life can be cut throat. There are mother fuckers in business who will think nothing of stomping all over you if they think it will benefit them. It’s basically war without actually killing people, because we frown upon that in modern society.
The Wrap Up
I’ve read that some people think that this book is full of just common sense shit that everyone should already understand. That is god damn ridiculous. Maybe they were taught these ideas at some point, and yet when I look around, 99% of people aren’t actually doing all of them consistently. Hell, I’d say 99% of all people have a hard enough time with just cultivating the first habit of being proactive.
The truth is this is God-tier level book that will completely alter your life if you truly take it to heart and study it. But you can’t get so attached to these ideas that you want to make them work in every scenario. A map, even a great one, is never the territory.
True maturity and success comes from implementing these habits when you should but also dropping the mental model and using a different model if necessary. That requires a nuanced view of the world and realizing that life is rarely black and white.
That’s when you really win.