The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Review Sample

Psychology: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People first saw the world in 1989. Since then, it is one of the most popular books when it comes to self-made success and fulfilled, contented life. As for the habits, according to this work, there are seven of them: be proactive, being with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, not to be understood, synergize, sharpen the saw. The majority of them are interdependent. For example, you cannot synergize until you seek first to understand or, for instance, you cannot be truly proactive if you have no end (goal) in mind. In this case, it seems like you are on the bus but you do not know which bus stop is yours. Some of these habits have no dependence. For example, doing first things first is just a 21-day habit that everyone has to instill — it can be done only if one has discipline.

When it comes to one of the main book features — paradigm and paradigm shift, the first one describes that the world is not what basically exist — the world, your world, it is just your view on this world, your thoughts that result in action. Paradigm shift stands for changing someone’s mind. For example, someone has not seen men in skirts before. However, once this person is in Scotland, paradigm shifts begins, and he or she understands that it is possible, and his or her point of view is changed inside-out.

One should note that there is a well-known concept of personality ethic: when a person runs his or her life according to the inner boundaries. Covey (1990) neglects such theory and offers “character ethic” — the one that is united by the true values of the person with the “timeless and universal” principles. The last but not the least, it is perception as the author says that the way we perceive the world is the way we live.

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Habit 1: Be Proactive

Explanation: How to be proactive? The issue is what one should do if healthy food, enough sleep, and fresh air do not work. Stephen Covey’s decision is not to be active but proactive. He claims that some people have simply forgotten that their mission is to act. Moreover, their nature is to act. According to the author, people have two critical needs such as being social and action. Covey (1990) states that “our nature is to act and not to be just an object to influence.” On the one hand, he says, it gives us the ability to choose our response to certain conditions. On the other hand, he encourages us to shape the circumstances themselves (Covey, 1990).

Example: It is critically important to mention that the author claims that “you do not have to be reactive, you should be proactive”, and these are quite different things. The difference is if someone is reacting, he or she pays too much attention to things and issues he does not need. In other words, a person spreads him- or herself to many activities, and he or she is not able to concentrate on one important thing. Therefore, one cannot be proactive.

According to Covey (1990), every proactive person, first and foremost, can focus and isolate some main issues and goals. Second, to be proactive, people just have to do a little more than usual. For example, if someone gets up at 10 a.m. and wants to be an early bird, no need to wake up at 6 a.m. on the next day. It is not proactivity: it is stupidity and extreme impulsivity that does not lead to any good. Instead, one should try to wake up first at 9:45 a.m., then at 9:30 a.m., and it will take only a week to make a new habit that leads to proactivity. Another example is no fear. Covey (1990) says that proactivity means that someone has to take an active position: instead of “if only I could…” — “I can do it”, instead of “if only I have enough time” — “I can wake up 15 earlier and do it”, instead of “I am run out of money” – “I am eager to look for an additional job”, etc.

Habit 2: Being with the End in Mind

Explanation: In my opinion, this pattern and statement are the most decent among all these seven habits of highly effective people. First and foremost is the fact that its source is pure logic. Someone will never know how to act and how to cope with difficulties if he or she does not know where to go. Defining a goal or dream is the first thing one must do when starting a new project — even if it is a baby. Covey (1990) says that this habit applies to many different circumstances and all aspects of life. The brighter and concrete you imagine a goal, the easier it will be for you to run for it. The main motto should be “start with the end in mind right now, right here, try your best to imagine your dream in details – from A to Z”, it is the half of your reaching goal’s success. Each part of people’s life — what we are doing today, what we will do tomorrow, next week, next month — could be considered in the context of the whole, of what really matters to us. The author says that we have to constantly keep in our minds a clear image of our ultimate goals. Therefore, we can always be aware of the fact that everything we do on any given day, is not contrary to the criteria that you define for itself as the most important (Wilson and Dobson, 2008).

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Example: For instance, a first-year student at the faculty of journalism wants to be the most famous, professional, and recognizable TV host in the world. Even he has neither knowledge nor experience, he has to keep in mind a vivid and concrete image, a visualization of what he wants. The more details and exact pictures he has in his mind, the better for him. He has to know what TV channel he wants to work for, what salary he needs, which people he wants to work with, etc. The main issue here is that this very student does not have to fear to dream up and high — he does not have to be afraid to imagine his life-goal in 10, 20, 30 years.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Explanation: Everyone has heard about procrastination — when someone makes up something and does minor, insignificant things instead of vital ones. Put first things first is the third habit presented in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book. This principle shows how to classify life tasks into important, urgent, not so important, and not urgent at all. Covey (1990) offers that someone has to make a list of tasks (it does not matter — to visit a dentist or to complete a presentation — one should count all functions that are tied up to all spheres of life) and define which are urgent and first. The author says that the most important issue is health, family, and business. If someone has good health, he or she can be proactive and do first things first. If one has healthy relationships and background with the family, he or she boasts of great psycho health. And the last, but not the least, by “business” Covey implies someone’s business. It can be your job, your own business, your kids, or embroidery — it depends on what you do in life because it makes you a fulfilled person. Finally, one should analyze these spheres and decide which things he has to put first. At the beginning of the week, one should always look at his goals to know which goals and tasks to put first (Dixon, 2007).

Example: Sandy is a young woman who has two kids, runs her own business, and has her favorite hobby — she collects cups of all sizes and colors. To define the “first things”, Sandy has to make a list of her goals. For example, “Raise business revenue and make 5,000 $ this month”, “Take kids to horseback riding twice a week”, “Collect five more cups until the end of the year”. Then she has to define what is more important and urgent for her. For example, kids will be that “first thing” because horseback riding schools class lists will close in two days. Also, it is a New Year’s Eve, and it is a good time to spend time on marketing in the business. Cups collection can surely wait.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Explanation: Win-Win is a special attitude to life, problems, and all tasks we have. It is a unique attitude of heart and mind, aiming at the constant search for mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-Win scheme means that all the agreements and decisions of common interest satisfy both parties. If we take some decision, we have to do our best to make it result in good conditions for both sides. When defining the type of Win-Win, both of them are satisfied and committed to the adoption of an action plan. Installation of Win-Win life is an arena for the cooperation of all kinds. Unfortunately, the majority of people tend to polar scores: strong — weak, stubborn — willed, win — lose. However, this way of thinking is flawed and ineffective. It is based on the power and position, and not on principle. The Win-Win concept relies on the paradigm according to which all the success of one person can not be achieved at the expense of the other, and does not rule out the success of the other. Covey (1990) says that it can be defined as the belief in the existence of a third alternative. The decision called “not yours and not mine” is the best solution, a solution of mutual benefit (Carnegie, 1981).

Example: For instance, two parents want their kids — two girls — to attend some classes. The dad wants them to visit music classes, but their mom supposes that swimming is the best option because their kids do not spend that much time actively. Both classes are scheduled twice a week. The Win-Win decision here would be is that, first, it is important to ask girls what they want. If hypothetically they want both, the best option is to attend swimming and a music class once a week — everyone (not only mom and dad but even their kids) is in the Win-Win situation.

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Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Explanation: If someone wants to communicate with a particular person, he or she seeks to influence a boss, son, neighbor, friend, colleague or anyone else. Therefore, first of all, he or she has to listen to him. This habit is especially important in business. It is not even critical, it is dive necessity! If someone understands customers’ needs from A to Z and overcomes their expectations, this business will always be lucrative (Dimitrius and Mazzarella, 1998). Covey (1990) claims that nowadays people mostly pay attention to themselves, speak about themselves, and do not pay any attention to others. Hence, that is the problem and, at the same time, a decision. One should think first about understanding, and once he has understood, he can think about being understood.

Example: For instance, some entrepreneur is passionate about cosmetics. However, he does not see organic cosmetics is surely on the edge of glory. If he negotiates with suppliers and makes them supply his shops with natural makeup, wellness, and other cosmetics, he will get more revenue. It happens because this business and person have simply met customers’ needs. They did their best to understand trends, realize what people want, and give them exactly what they need right now. Then, as if I do not need your love and influence, I will not be there for you to feel safe enough to open up his views, thoughts, and innermost feelings to you. Who knows what we can expect from you?

Habit 6: Synergize

Explanation: First and foremost, synergize is about communication and belief. Once someone synergizes with people, he or she trusts them and let the situation go. Using synergistic connection, someone just opens his or her mind, heart, and means of expression to meet new possibilities, new alternatives, and thousands new options. This is the way the sixth habit can be described. It may seem as if someone refuses the second habit (begin with the end in mind goal) for a short time. Nevertheless, in reality, someone is doing the opposite: he or she follows this goal giving other people a chance to cooperate and synergize. Covey (1990) encourages social life; he claims that people can definitely help other people to reach their dreams. Entering into synergistic communication, one does not know exactly how everything will turn out and what will happen in the end. However, someone has an inner sense of joy, security, and adventure accompanied by a confidence that everything will be much better than it was before as someone is surrounded by passionate, open-minded people who encourage him (Rowson, 2006).

Example: Someone dreams to be ahead of the bank, but nothing happens for almost seven years not taking into account that the person is in great stress and tries to do his best to get this job. It may sound strange, but all he or she has to do is to communicate with “right” people who have already reached this goal and relax. Once a person lets a situation go (not for 100 % but a bit), synergizing begins.

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Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Explanation: Life is something new every day. Life is interesting because one never knows what will happen right behind the corner. To be a professional, to reach goals, everyone has to sharpen the saw, Covey (1990) says. To put it into a nutshell, this habit is your personal resources and funds (RF). “You should maintain something new and develop yourself, saving your time, the most valuable resources — your own” the author claims. Everyone has to keep in mind and update the four main dimensions of human beings’ nature — physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional. It means we have to sharpen the saw not only to be a professional but to be good and enjoy present life, hobbies, etc. Covey (1990) claims that people have to sharpen the saw in everything, of course, paying attention to “first things first” and “begin with the end in mind” habits.

Example: Britney is a 23-year-old mom who has a 4-year-old daughter called Suzy. Britney supposes education is not so important and that attending regular school is enough for Suzy. Unfortunately, she does not understand that her dreams and goals will not come true because of lack of education and, as a result, she will not find her path in life because she was not able to sharpen the saw. The best decision Britney can take is to pay and make Suzy attend attention classes to instill a habit of sharpening the saw since her childhood.

It is no surprise that nowadays people want to be more effective and productive — the rushing time calls. Many of them are looking for some training and, books. As for the latter one, there are many good books about “how to be effective”, “how to reach your success”, etc. However, only a few of them managed to become bestsellers as these books resulted in successful people, their dreams and goals, which came true, and their harmonica lifestyle. One of these books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

As was mentioned above, some of these habits are interdependable, and some of them require discipline and concentration only. In any case, these seven habits is a perfect professionally compressed and narrated story that shows how to achieve success in any sphere of your life. It is important to mention that the book explains not only how to make money or to reach success as a professional but also how to be a good and effective mom, dad or how to be a professional and decent kindergarten teacher. This book is still revenant nowadays, and it will probably be for the next thousand years. According to Time magazine, thanks to this book, Stephen Covey is one of the most powerful Americans in the world.

I would surely recommend this book to everyone who also wants to define a major issue with time-management. Stephen Covey shows how proactivity, first things first, trying to understand and then — to be understood can help to save time and fulfilled and contented life. In conclusion, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book’s slogan can be put into a nutshell: manage yourself and you can lead others. Win your laziness, gaps, problems, fears and you will be able to manage everyone.