Although Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989, it continues to thrive as a bestseller, selling over 15 million copies. Unlike many books of the genre, Covey’s message is not “productivity at all costs,” but instead one that asks the reader to consider what is really important in life and to focus on those things.
Covey divides his 7 habits into three areas, under which the habits fall, and are to be developed in this order:
Independence or Self-Mastery
1: Be Proactive
2: Begin with the End in Mind
3: Put First Things First
4: Think Win-Win
5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
7: Sharpen the Saw
In addition to the habits, Covey discusses important concepts such as paradigm shift, abundance mentality, and scarcity mentality. Personal relationships are also discussed in depth, from business relationships to parenting and familial relationships. If your company or family has a purpose statement, it’s likely such an idea may have stemmed from this book or others that have been built off of themes in this book.
Covey also touches on the importance of reading deeply, broadly and widely, a theme on which elaborates more fully in his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, “I strongly believe that we should turn the TV way down in our lives and get back to reading—reading broadly, deeply, outside our comfort zones and outside our professional field” (339). At this I sighed a hearty, “Amen.” Though I’d probably state it more bluntly: “Read outside your field, people! It lends new perspective through which you can view your field (or simply life, if you don’t have a field).” (Just kidding–I’m not that mean, and stating it that way wouldn’t really make me a highly effective person. :))
As a whole, I liked the book and definitely profited from it. Although it is quite popular, there are naysayers of the book in abundance. A few common objections seem to be 1)it’s part of work-required or class-assigned reading. Can’t say I object to such objections. Depending on the employer or class assigning the book, I might find it less enjoyable when read this way. 2)”This is stupid. The book is just common sense! Anyone could write this.” This likely holds an element of truth, yet as Covey remarks in the book, what is common sense is not always common practice. Sometimes it helps to hear common sense succinctly stated and precisely laid out. 3)”It’s all marketing hype.” Well, since over 15 million copies have been sold I’d say either the marketing or the book itself has been fairly successful. Consequently, someone wanting to read the material to ascertain for themselves should be able to easily find the book at a library, book sale, or similar source.