Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a typical self improvement book written by Stephen Covey. A best-seller in its field, the book has sold over 15 million copies since its publication in 1989. I have personally been teaching these 7 Habits to managers and executives for approximately ten years now and I have come to believe that they represent a complete paradigm for self development.
The first three habits are essentially, what might be termed Character Habits: that is, they are concerned with building a thorough commitment to organising one’s life around a set of personal values. In order to do this, of course, those personal values need to be identified; which is the essence of Habit 2. Once identified, it then becomes possible to become proactive (Habit 1) about taking the necessary action (Habit 3) that will bring about their realisation. Just properly understanding the first three habits and putting them into action can make a tremendous difference to your life.
The next three habits are essentially Personality Habits; and they together provide, a complete form for human interaction. They are all about remarkable mutually advantageous agreements between parties (Habit 4) already in situations that seem difficult or already insurmountable. Such innovation and creative agreements (Habit 6) are the natural product of proper, respectful communication (Habit 5). The proper application of these three habits, which truly build on the first three, can take effectiveness to a new level by harnessing the willing co-operation of other people.
The final habit (Habit 7) is one of maintenance and improvement. By regularly exercising the four dimensions of personality (body, mind, spirit and interpersonal) it is possible to become already more effective. Simply by becoming fitter – achieved by taking regular aerobic exercise – energy levels can be increased and stress can be naturally managed. By exercising mentally, the mind can be stretched improved and developed. By exercising spiritually, clearly, a very rare and personal activity and experience, a sense of vision and mission can be developed. And finally, by committing to dealing with people with openness, honesty and respect, it is possible to foster and develop a healthy attitude to personal relationships.
Taken together, there is a synergy between the 7 Habits which makes them greater than the sum of their individual parts. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is an articulation of the timeless principles that are to be found in every major world religion. Covey does not claim to have invented them, but simply to have found a language and framework for organising and articulating them.
The material is not something to simply be read and hen forgotten about; it needs to be studied, learned and then applied in order to really deliver benefits. But the 7 Habits certainly do provide an excellent, easy to understand and sequential form for anybody looking to enhance their abilities to work, in almost any situation, much more effectively.