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7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective People is broadly recognised as one of the most influential books of its kind. Few people will not have heard of this inspirational best seller. In his seminal work, the late Stephen R. Covey presented a holistic, principle-centred approach to solving personal and professional problems.

The book details seven habits which together build an integrated approach to your personal development. Covey stepped away from emphasising self-help techniques and practices. Instead, he asked questions about principles, character and a deeper awareness of both self and others.

Covey expressed his approach as character-building habits. Not just thought-provoking, Covey’s book is packed with practical applications and tests, which we’ll all find valuable in both our personal and professional lives.

It’s well worth adding this self-development classic to your collection and working through the 7 habits for yourself.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”(

What are the 7 Habits?

  1. Be Proactive. Life doesn’t just happen, whether intentionally or not,the decisions we make shape the life we live.
  2. Begin With the End in Mind. Do you know what you want to be/do? Imagine what it would be like. Make a conscious effort to visualise what you want to be and what you want to do in life.
  3. Put First Things First. Build balance into what you do. Ensure that what you want is worked out in practice. That you do the things worth most to you first.
  4. Think Win-Win. Consistently seek mutual benefit in what you do. Cultivate an abundance mentality – there is more for everyone.
  5. Seek First to Understand. Communication is the most important skill in life. Seek to understand another person’s view first, in order to best put your view forward. To communicate well you must listen first.
  6. Synergize. Bring together ideas, other people and their views. Do this properly and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  7. Sharpen the Saw. Take time out to ensure you are refreshed, renewed and equipped to contribute and live life to the full.

This classic book first came out in 1989. It’s often quoted and referred to, so if you haven’t read it you’ll almost certainly have heard about it. Why not take time out to read this book, or to listen to the audio version (see our selection of Stephen Covey books below). Or, if you read the book some time ago, it may be time to re-read and re-discover. A good example of what Covey calls “sharpening the saw”!

The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

Did Covey forget or miss a habit from his best selling book “7 Habits”? Well not exactly. The eighth habit is more a way to use the 7 habits to create something of significance. Covey believed there is a great yearning, in both individuals and organizations. A yearning to discover their true “voice,” to matter, to make a difference, to find greatness.

The 8th Habit can help you acquire a new mindset, and the tools, to help you find your voice and your passion. When you do that, you feel more fulfilled and engaged with the world around you and, consequently, with your role in that world. Our article Do What You Love echoes some of the emphasis and direction of “the 8th Habit”.

The 8th Habit is an ideal companion volume to the 7 habits, for anybody serious about making the most of their lives. We have no hesitation in recommending 7 Habits of Highly effective People – a great resource for your personal development.

You’ll find several articles on this site which draw on Stephen Covey’s ideas. Take a look at some Happy Manager pages which have used his wisdom:

What is Time Management?

Goal Setting Leaders Put Their Legacy First

Quotes on Time Management

Define Leadership Excellence?

Or look at our other recommended Stephen Covey books….


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