Summary: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey
Summary: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

Summary: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with an end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. First understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

The Pitfall of Searching for quick fixes

How do you do it? Teach me your techniques. The quick fixes are simply band-aids that will yield short-term solutions. They don’t address the underlying condition.

Many individuals who have achieved a high degree of outwards success still find themselves struggling with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and growing healthy relationships with other people.

Power of a Paradigm

Paradigms are maps. We all know map is not the territory. A map is simply an explanation of certain aspects of the territory. That’s exactly what a paradigm is. It’s a theory, an explanation, a model of something else.

Suppose you’re in Chicago and you have a map of Detroit. Can you imagine the frustration, the ineffectiveness of trying to reach your destination?

You might work on your behavior– you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed. Still your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.

You might work on your attitude– you could think more positively. You still wouldn’t get to the right pace, but perhaps you wouldn’t care. Your attitude would be so positive, you’d be happy wherever you are.

Point is you’d still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior nor your attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map.

Each of us has many, many maps in our head which can be divided into 2 main categories:

  1. Maps of the way things are (realities)
  2. Maps of the way things should be (values).

We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware of having them. We simply assume the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.

We’ll never get to the problem if we’re so caught up in our own autobiography, our own paradigms, that we don’t take off our glasses long enough the see the world from another point of view.

Self-mastery (Dependence to Independence)

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with an end in mind
  3. Put first things first

Collaboration (Independence to Interdependence)

  1. Think Win-Win
  2. First understand, then to be understood
  3. Synergize

Continuous Growth

  1. Sharpen the saw

Habit 1 – Be Proactive

The problem is the problem with ‘out there’. Reactivity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.

Chasing after the poisonous snake that bit us will only drive the poison to our entire body.

Proactive people however recognize they’ve responsibility – response-ability. It’s our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happened in the first place. Always focus on the circle of influence.


  • Start replacing reactive language with proactive language.
    • Reactive = “He makes me so mad”
    • Proactive = “I control my own feelings”
  • Convert reactive tasks to proactive actions.

Habit 2 – Begin with an end in mind

Start with clear destination in mind. Use our imagination to develop a vision of what we want to become and use our conscience to decide what values will guide us.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

Ask in the first place “What are we trying to accomplish?”


  • Visualize in reaching your own funeral.
    • Who is there?
    • What are they talking about you?
    • How did you live your life?
    • What are the relationships you had?
    • What do you want them to say?
  • Think about priorities if you only had 30 days more to live. Start living by them.
  • Break down different roles in your life.
    • Professional
    • Personal
    • Community
    • List 3-5 goals you want to achieve for each.
  • Define what scares you.
    • Write down worst-case scenario then visualize how you’ll handle this.

Habit 3 – Put first things first

Prioritize our daily actions based on what’s important, not what’s most urgent. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

Key is not prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important If we focus on this quadrant, We manage crises. If we focus on this quadrant, We procrastinate constantly.
Not Important If we focus on this quadrant, We focus on short-term. If we focus on this quadrant, We live irresponsibly.

Stewardship Delegation

  1. Desired results – create a clear mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, now how. Results not methods.
  2. Guidelines – Point out potential failure paths, what not to do, but don’t tell them what to do. Let people learn from your mistakes or the mistakes of others. Keep the responsibility for results with them.
  3. Resources – Identify the human, financial and technical resources the person can draw on to accomplish the desired results.
  4. Accountability – Set up the standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the results and specific times when reporting and evaluation will take place.
  5. Consequences – Specify what will happen, both good and bad.


  • Identify a quadrant II (what you’ve been neglecting).
    • Write it down, commit to implementing it.
  • Create your own time management matrix to start prioritizing.
  • Estimate how much time you spend in each quadrant.
    • Log your time over 3 days
    • How accurate was your estimate?
    • How much time did you spend in Quadrant II (most important quadrant)?

Habit 4 – Think Win-Win

Create Win-Win situations that are mutually beneficial and satisfying to each party.

  1. Win-Win: Mutually beneficial.
  2. Win-Lose: Use power, position credentials to get your way.
  3. Lose-Win: Quick to please and appease.
  4. Lose-Lose: When two determined, stubborn and egoistical parties interact.
  5. Win: Don’t necessarily want other to lose if you win.
  6. Win-Win or No Deal

To think Win-Win:

  1. Adopt Abundance Mentality (belief there’s plenty out there for everyone)
  2. Avoid Scarcity Mentality (belief everything is zero-sum game)
  3. Focus on results and problems (not methods and people)


  • Think about an upcoming interaction
    • List what another person is looking for.
    • Write a list next to that how you can meet those needs.
  • Identify 3 important relationships in your life.
    • Do you give more than you take? Take more than you give?
    • List 10 ways to give more than you take.
  • Deeply consider your own interaction tendencies.
    • Are they Win-Lose? Lose-Win? Lose-Lose? …

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

Deeply understand their perspectives through empathetic listening. Imagine consulting a doctor who prescribe you without diagnosing whatsoever.

You’ve spent years of your life learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening?

Most person listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. At any given moment, they’re either speaking or preparing to speak. Seeking to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood requires courage.

6 Major Deposits to Emotional Bank Account

  1. Understanding the individual
  2. Attending to the little things
  3. Keeping commitments
  4. Clarifying expectations
  5. Show personal integrity
  6. Apologizing sincerely when you make a withdrawal


  • Next time you’re watching two people communicating, cover your ears and watch.
    • What emotions are being conveyed that might not come across through words alone?
    • Was 1 person or the other more interested in the conversation?
    • Write down what you observed.
  • Next time you give a presentation, root it in empathy.
    • Begin by describing audience’s point of view in detail.
    • What problems are they facing?
    • How is what you’re about to say offer a solution to their problems?

Habit 6 – Synergize

By understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity.

Synergy is when one plus one equals three or more and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

For example, when 2 plans grow together, their roots will co-mingle and improve the quality of the soil, so both will grow better than they would on their own.

When we synergize, what we end up is no longer a transaction, but a transformation. Both sides get what they want, and they build relationship in the process. By putting forth a spirit of trust and safety, we prompt others to open and feed on each other insights and ideas, creating synergy.

Stay loyal to those who are not present. In doing so, you build the trust of those who are present.

If 2 people have same opinion, one is unnecessary. With a different perspective, we can say “Good! You see it different! Help me see what you see.”


  • Make a list of who irate you.
    • How are their views different?
    • Put yourself in their shoes for 1 minute. Think and pretend how it feels to be them. Does this help you understand them better?
    • Next time you disagree, try understanding their concerns and why they do so.
  • Make a list of people with whom you get along well.
    • How are their views different?
    • What conditions were met to reach such fluidity in your interactions?
    • How can you recreate those conditions?

Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw

Devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally and socially.

Physical dimension: exercise our body in a way to enhance our capacity to live.

  • Eat well
  • Rest well
  • Exercise regularly (for flexibly, endurance and strength)

Spiritual dimension: lead our lives and reinforce our values

  • Meditate daily
  • Spend with nature
  • Enjoy great literature or music

Mental dimension: continue expanding our mind

  • Read daily
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and experiences.
  • Limit TV.

Social dimension: develop meaningful relationships

  • Understand people
  • Improve their lives.
  • Adopt abundance mentality.


  • Make a list of activities (under 4 dimensions) to sharpen your saw.
  • Commit to doing them, evaluating your performance and results.