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7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Summary

Planning and organization have always been something I try to incorporate into my everyday. So it should go without saying, when a company provided me with a work planner when I started, I was over the moon.

The planner was very detailed, everything I could ever need for keeping track of my day. I explored the pages and noticed that each one had a “habit” written on the bottom. I wasn’t sure at the time what they referred to, but each one seemed to have a positive message. 

In my time with this company, I would come to learn more about these seven habits that they were so passionate about. I even started incorporating them into my life outside of work.

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These habits are the work of the author, educator, and speaker, Dr. Covey, and come from his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The seven habits are meant to transform the ways we handle our work and personal lives, such as managing our time more efficiently, staying motivated, and cultivating relationships.

The Beginning of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

After analyzing literature on the definition of “success” throughout history, Covey discovered a vital change in how success is defined by humans.

In the past, success was based on things like integrity and courage. These were referred to as “character ethic.”

In the 1920s, people’s perspectives on success started to change from an emphasis on one’s character to what Covey labels the “personality ethic” (which asserts that success is determined by personality, public image, attitudes, and behaviors).

Who is Dr. Covey?

Stephen R. Covey was an author and speaker best known for his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which he wrote in 1989. He wrote several other books as well, including First Things First and Principle-Centered Leadership.

He was also a professor at Brigham Young University from 1983 until his retirement in 2003. And in 2004, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in helping people to become more successful and effective.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Summary

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey provides a comprehensive and thoughtful framework for developing personal effectiveness and achieving success.

This book has become an indispensable tool for those looking to realize their highest potential in all areas of their life.

The Seven Habits can be divided into three categories: private victory, public victory, and renewal habits.

Private victory habits help us develop an inward focus, including developing a mindset that puts us in control of our lives. These include Habits 1-3: Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First.

Public victory habits give us the tools to interact successfully and positively with the world around us. These include Habits 4-6: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the Saw.

The renewal habits help us to continually maintain and improve our effectiveness. They include Habit 7: Renewal (Sharpen the Saw).

By following these habits we can become more productive and effective in all aspects of our lives. We can develop meaningful relationships and work towards our fullest potential.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides a practical guide to achieving success in all areas of life. With its emphasis on personal responsibility, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills, this book is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to realize their highest potential.

If you are looking for effective ways to become a better leader, build meaningful relationships, and achieve success in life, this book is an essential guide to help you on your journey. With its timeless advice, it can help you reach the greatest heights of personal excellence and fulfillment.

Why do our habits matter?

Because they determine our success in every area of our life. Whether it’s relationships, career, or personal development – our habits are the key to reaching our fullest potential and achieving success.

By applying the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to your daily life you can unlock your true potential and become a successful leader both personally and professionally.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are a timeless guide to developing personal effectiveness and achieving success. Take the time to reflect on how these habits can help you reach your goals in life – and see where it may lead!

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is an individual’s belief that their skills, abilities, and traits can be developed through effort and learning.

People with a growth mindset believe that personal development, hard work, dedication, and persistence are the keys to success.

They tend to be open to constructive criticism and feedback as they understand that mistakes are a part of learning. They strive to learn from their experiences and use them as stepping stones in order to reach their goals. With a growth mindset, failure is viewed as an opportunity for growth and development instead of a sign of defeat.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People encourages readers to adopt a growth mindset in order to achieve success in all areas of life. By cultivating a growth mindset, individuals can unlock their true potential and become more successful both personally and professionally.

What is a scarcity mindset?

A scarcity mindset is an individual’s belief that resources, success, and opportunities are scarce or limited.

People with a scarcity mindset tend to become overly concerned about competition and feel threatened by the success of others. They focus on what they don’t have rather than striving for growth and development. This type of mindset can lead to chronic stress, dissatisfaction, and feelings of insecurity.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People encourages readers to move away from a scarcity mindset and towards an abundance mindset.

An abundance mindset is based on the belief that there is plenty in the world for everyone, including resources, success, and opportunities. It focuses on the possibilities instead of limitations and allows individuals to be open and flexible to opportunities. People with an abundance mindset tend to be more confident, creative, and motivated – all of which can help them reach their goals.

By shifting from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality, individuals can unlock their true potential and become more successful both personally and professionally. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides timeless advice on how to make this shift and achieve success.

Use the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a guide to unlock your true potential and become more successful in all areas of life!

With its emphasis on personal responsibility, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills, this book is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to realize their true potential and achieve success.

Take the time to reflect on how this timeless advice can help you reach your goals in life – and see where it may lead!

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Summary – The Habits

Here are Stephen Covey’s seven habits and what we can learn from each.

Habit 1: Be Proactive 

The first habit is one you’ve probably been told before, be proactive!

Covey refers to proactivity as simply taking responsibility for your life. How you respond to situations can affect the overall outcome and sometimes we forget we have the freedom to control that.

Those who think proactively tend to focus their efforts on what they can do something about. They think in terms of, “I can”, “I will”, “I prefer”. 

When we respond to things reactively, we tend to think we are not responsible for what happens to us and that we have no choice.

Reactive people focus on things they cannot change and think in terms of “I can’t”, “I have to”, “If only”. It may sound easier said than done but try it!

Even in a smaller situation, you’ll realize that you become more aware of how you react, focus your time on what you can control, and overall feel better about a situation.

Being proactive also means taking initiative and being independent, instead of waiting for others to act. It means actively seeking out solutions, even if they don’t come from someone else, and not relying on luck or chance.

Being proactive is about having a positive outlook and the courage to face any challenge head-on. Rather than reacting after the fact, proactive people anticipate potential problems and prepare for them in advance.

This kind of behavior encourages growth and development, both personally and professionally. By being proactive, individuals can take control of their lives and find success that might otherwise be out of reach.

Through thoughtful planning, self-discipline, and a willingness to try new things, proactivity leads to greater accomplishments.

The circle of influence encourages people to focus on the things they can control while recognizing that they cannot always control external factors.

The circular diagram presented in the book represents the idea that what we have control over is limited, and it’s important to identify what lies within our control and how we can use that power.

By recognizing the areas where they have influence, people can better focus their efforts and plan accordingly.

Rather than wasting time and energy on things beyond our control, we can direct our attention to the issues within our circle of influence. This way, instead of simply reacting to the world around us, we can actively shape our own destinies.

What is the circle of concern?

The circle of concern is the outermost ring in the circles diagram. It represents all things that we cannot control, such as external factors or natural disasters.

We may be aware of these issues, but we can’t do much to influence them directly. We should still be mindful of our environment and pay attention to any trends that may affect us, but our main focus should be on the things we can do something about.

The circle of concern encourages people to pay attention to the bigger picture while still recognizing they cannot control every aspect of their environment. By focusing on what is within their power, individuals can more effectively use their energy and resources to achieve success.

The ability to be proactive is essential for success, and Stephen Covey’s seven habits help us understand how we can become more conscious of our decisions and actions. By recognizing the power of proactivity, we empower ourselves to shape our own destinies and make positive changes in our lives.

By understanding these concepts and actively working on them, we can move from reacting to situations to taking proactive steps towards our goals. We can become more mindful of our thoughts and behavior, better understand how to take responsibility for our lives, and create a life of true meaning and purpose.

**The key takeaway here is that being proactive means taking charge of your life and having the courage to face whatever challenges come your way. Through mindful planning and self-discipline, you can take control of your life and make positive changes for yourself.**

By being proactive and taking initiative, you’ll be able to better plan for the future, become more aware of how you react in certain situations, and ultimately create a life of meaning and success.

Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind 

This habit circles around one word, goals.

Beginning with the end in mind requires you to use a little imagination.

Look into the future at what you want to do in life, where you want to be. Then, use that vision to plan what you’ll do today to help you get there.

This can refer to your personal life, a project at work, or a relationship. What is your end goal and what can you do to reach it? This habit interlocks with being proactive by encouraging us to make things happen!

Covey suggests building a Personal Mission Statement to help you keep on track. You can write your own, or have help to create one here. 

Having a mission statement is something that can help you focus on your goals and what you can do to meet them. 

We also have to consider the scripts written for us. These are the norms and expectations that others may have of us. To make sure we’re still living our life in line with what we want, it’s important to take a step back and analyze if these scripts fit into our mission statement.

This habit requires us to challenge ourselves by asking questions such as “Am I living the life I want?”, “Am I making progress towards my goals?”, and “What can I do today to make a difference?”

By understanding our values and taking active steps towards reaching our goals, we can use the circle of concern to become more proactive in creating the life we want.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

This habit when put simply means to prioritize.

When you put first things first, you’re taking the time to assess what you have to do, but understanding some things can wait.

You don’t have to overextend yourself. Instead, have to look at what is most important.

He does this by building a time management matrix (similar to the Eisenhower matrix). This matrix is divided into 4 quadrants—urgent and important, not urgent and important, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important.

It’s all about understanding what needs to be done now (quadrant 1), what can wait until later (quadrant 2), what tasks are a waste of time (quadrant 3), and what’s not worth doing at all (quadrant 4).

By understanding this matrix, we can prioritize tasks that are important and urgent. We can then use our proactivity to plan out the other things so they don’t pile up later on.

This habit is also about understanding our values and living according to them. We should be taking active steps to ensure that we’re creating a life of meaning and purpose, not just doing whatever comes our way.

By being proactive in understanding what needs to be done now and what can wait for later, we can make sure that we put first things first and create the life we want.

The bottom line is that by being proactive, understanding our values and goals, and taking time to prioritize, we can use Covey’s habit of proactivity to have a better quality of life. We can take charge of our own lives and make positive changes for ourselves. This will ultimately help us create a life of meaning and purpose.

Although it can be hard, we should be spending most of our time in Quadrant two.

Covey states, “Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”

This helps is implement the Pareto principle.

This states that 80 percent of your outcome will come from 20 percent of your input. This means you should focus on the tasks that have the most benefit and get rid of any distractions or time wasters.

It’s important to take time for yourself and rest. Working too hard without taking a break can lead to burnout, so remember to make time for yourself.

By understanding the importance of proactivity and taking steps towards our goals, we can use Covey’s habit of proactivity to have a better quality life.

We can take charge of our own lives and create a life that has meaning and purpose. With this, we can be sure to put first things first.

By implementing habit three when we can, it allows us to access a more balanced life.  We can focus on what’s important and be intentional with our time.

It allows us to have more control over our lives and reach the goals we set for ourselves, rather then settling for something that isn’t fulfilling.

Through understanding the importance of proactivity and prioritizing, we can take an active role in creating a life of meaning and purpose.

We can use Covey’s habit to become more proactive in achieving our goals and living a life of balance. This will ultimately lead to greater success and satisfaction.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

This habit looks at putting your attention less on competition and more on collaboration.

Thinking win-win seeks not only mutual benefit for both people but also a solution. Win-win solutions are based on the idea of mutual benefit and respect.

They look for a compromise that all parties can agree on instead of trying to find who has “won” the negotiation. They are the best way to get everyone oriented in the right direction.

In order to think win-win, you have to start with a positive attitude and believe that it is possible to come up with a solution that works for

This habit, like the others, can be used in a work setting or in a personal relationship.

When you take the time to look at what benefits both parties, it shows respect, maturity, integrity, and confidence.

Thinking this way can positively affect your character and improve relationships. The most effective way to connect with people is to remember that human dignity is important. These basic paradigms can help you connect with human beings in all situations. People just want to be understood and respected.

According to Covey, “In the long run, if it isn’t a win for both of us, we both lose. That’s why win-win is the only real alternative in interdependent realities.” 

Creating win-win situations means creating healthy interdependent relationships.

Other than win-win, the kinds of relationships are:

• Win-Lose: One person wins and the other loses

• Lose-Win: One person gives up something to benefit another

• Lose-Lose: Both parties lose out in the situation

When you think win-win, it helps foster respect and trust between two people. It’s important for each party to be open and honest in order to find the best solution for both of them.

By focusing less on competition and more on collaboration, we can create positive and meaningful relationships with others.

Thinking win-win is an important skill to learn if you want to have successful interdependent relationships at work or in your personal life. It helps foster respect and trust between two people and ultimately leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

By utilizing Covey’s habit of thinking win-win, we can create positive relationships with others and have a better quality of life. We can also focus on collaboration instead of competition which will lead to greater success in the long run.

Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

Communication, specifically empathetic listening, is the basis for this habit.

So many times when people are speaking, telling a story, explaining directions, we have the sudden urge to jump in with our thoughts.

What’s so bad about that?

By doing this, we don’t always give ourselves the chance to connect with the other person and you may miss their point entirely.

When we communicate, most times we listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. When you change this way of thinking, you may realize your entire response changes.

Doing this is another great way to work on understanding someone on a deeper level and improving the relationship.

To be successful at this, we must practice empathetic listening.

This means actively listening and trying to understand another person’s perspective, even if we don’t agree with it.

It’s important to give the speaker your full attention when they are communicating and refrain from any kind of judgement until you completely understand what is going on.

By practicing these habits, we can learn how to communicate in a more effective and meaningful way.

Seeking first to understand, then to be understood is also a great way to practice humility and active listening which are essential for successful relationships.

How does Covey say we should be empathetic listeners?

Covey suggests that when we are listening to someone, we should try our best to put ourselves in the speaker’s shoes. This requires us to show empathy, compassion, and understanding for the other person’s feelings and experiences. We can also ask questions to clarify certain points or seek further information.

By doing this, it can help us better understand the other person and create meaningful connections.

In conclusion, Covey’s habit of seeking first to understand then to be understood is a great way to improve communication and relationships between people.

This often requires a paradigm shift to be successful at it.

It helps foster respect for others, practice humility and empathy, and ultimately creates successful interdependent relationships.

It is important to practice active listening and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to better understand them. With these habits, we can create positive meaningful relationships with others.

What is empathic listening?

Empathic listening is an active form of communication where one person listens to another with full attention and without judgement.

The listener seeks to understand the speaker’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences by asking questions and actively engaging in the conversation. This type of listening fosters a deeper connection between people as it allows them to connect on an emotional level.

It is a skill that requires practice and patience, but can be a valuable tool in improving relationships with others.

Habit 6: Synergize 

Synergy refers to teamwork. Covey describes synergy, a word he coined, as “not the same as compromise. In a compromise, one plus one equals one and a half at best.”

When people experience synergy, they are taking the time to truly accept the other person’s differences. You then use that understanding to feed off of each other and gain new insight into your situation.

Synergyzing offers a way to problem solve by being open-minded. According to Covey, there are ways you will know you have experienced synergy. If you:

  • Have a change of heart.
  • Feel new energy and excitement.
  • See things in a new way.
  • Feel that the relationship has transformed.
  • End up with an idea or a result that is better than what either of you started with (3rd Alternative).

How does synergy work according to Covey?

Synergy works by bringing together different perspectives, ideas, and creativity to create something much better than the individual parts. For this to work effectively, both parties need to be open-minded and willing to learn from one another.

Covey explains that synergy leads to a Third Alternative—an idea or solution that neither person had thought of on their own. This Third Alternative is usually better than either person’s original ideas and can lead to more effective solutions.

Synergy requires respect for the other person as well as an understanding that we are all different, but we all have something valuable to contribute.

By practicing synergy, we can create win-win situations and foster relationships that are built on trust and cooperation.

In conclusion, Habit 6, synergize, is about respecting others for their differences, embracing teamwork and collaboration, and creating Third Alternatives with effective problem solving. It encourages us to be more open-minded and gain new perspectives from each other in order to create the best solutions for everyone.

Next time you’re in a difficult situation, try out the path to synergy and see where it may lead!

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw 

This seventh habit focuses on the most important thing you have, you. When you ‘sharpen the saw’, you are taking the time you need for self-renewal.

Taking care of yourself is extremely important when it comes to keeping a balanced life. So many times we are ‘too busy’ to make time for what we may need.

Unfortunately, thinking this way can easily cause us to get burnt out. If we aren’t at our best, we’re limiting ourselves from the growth and goals we spend all this time trying to reach.

Sharpening the saw is what keeps the rest of the six habits together. When our body and mind are empowered, we have no limits.

According to Covey, there are four dimensions of our nature:

  • The first is physical, which involves exercise and nutrition.
  • The second is spiritual, which focuses on our connection to something greater than ourselves.
  • The third is mental, which includes reading, learning new skills and finding inspiration.
  • Finally, the fourth dimension is social/emotional, which includes taking time for relationships and developing emotional intelligence.

We can sharpen the saw in each of these areas. This habit encourages us to be mindful and take time to focus on ourselves so that we can continue achieving our goals.

These fundamental principles can help us achieve positive change and our desired result.

Here are a few ways you can sharpen the saw according to Covey:

  • Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
  • Social/Emotional: Making social and meaningful connections with others
  • Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
  • Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service

To sum up, Habit 7, Sharpen The Saw, is a reminder to always make time for yourself and your own growth.

What is an emotional bank account?

Emotional Bank Account (EBA) is a metaphor created by Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It is used to describe the level of trust and goodwill between two people, or within an organization.

Essentially, it works like a bank account where deposits are made into. It’s essential to become the best version of yourself in order to achieve your goals. It encourages us to practice self-care and maintain a balance between physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional aspects.

So take the time to pause and truly assess what you need – then take action! You deserve it!

In Conclusion: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Summary

We hope these seven habits will inspire and encourage you to focus on positive personal changes. With this book summary, you will be able to implement these habits into your daily life.

Remember: It’s all about being proactive to take control of your life and making conscious decisions that lead to the best possible outcomes.

One of the most important things is that you can fundamentally change your habits instead of thinking about quick fixes.

We hope Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” will help you achieve positive personal growth, reach your goals, improve your mental health, and create a lifestyle that is in alignment with your values. Start now and take action – be the best version of yourself! Good luck!

Which habit do you think you will most benefit from? Let us know! 

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About the Author


Maggie is a 2014 graduate of Wingate University where she received a B.S. in Communications with an emphasis in Media and Journalism. She enjoys binging Netflix documentaries, exploring new places, and will never turn down a good book. She hopes to establish herself in a career that allows her to help others. In her free time, Maggie can be found writing or adventuring with her two dogs.