seven habits of highly effective people summary stephen covey


The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey is a classic of personal development. It has sold more than 25 million copies since it was first published in 1989, that doesn’t happen by chance, especially in a niche like the self development industry. Every time I reread it I learn something new, it always happens with extremely good books.


The revenues of a company are diminishing day by day. The CEO has two choices:

a) He can blame external factors such as the economic crisis of the last years, the politicians or his competitors.

b) He can accept what can’t control and focus the efforts of the company on its circle of influence. For instance, he can improve the service and the products the company is offering to its customers.

It’s not what happen to us that determines our level of happiness and our results but our perception of the events in our daily lives. Before we let negative situations influence our emotions we have the possibility to choose how we are going to interpret them.

How many times we make the mistake to worry about things out of our control? Each time we blame external factors for our situation we can’t direct our life in the direction we want, we lose the ability that each one of us has to improve. Successful people focus on what they can do to influence their lives in a positive way, and they act accordingly.


“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”

“Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.”


How is your life going to look like when you will be 80 if you will keep making the same choices you are making now? Think about it for a while. Are you happy of your answer? Are you happy of how you will spend your time? How will your family and your friends remember you once you will be gone forever?

If you are not satisfied with your answer the reason is that your actions are not aligned with your values. If you want to be a good father, why don’t you spend quality time with your sons? If you want to become a professional guitar player, why don’t you practice more? If you want to lose weight, why do you keep eating junk food?

Once you know what you really care about you can base your actions and your everyday behaviors on values that you have chosen consciously. You can behave in a congruent way with the person you want to become. When you have a clear vision of where you want to get you will be able to make sure that your habits will help you move in the right direction to achieve your goals in every aspect of your life.


“The most fundamental application of “Begin with the End in Mind” is to begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life — today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior — can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you.”

“To Begin with the End in Mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”


Once you discover what are your values you will have to live them daily. For instance, if you have established that is important to spend time with your family, you will have to turn down your boss when he is asking you to spend your Saturday night closed in the office to finish a project. How many of us are able to constantly make the right choice?

Often there are huge differences between what we do and what we say we want. Habit number two says chose carefully your priorities.


“Habit 1 says “You’re the programmer” and Habit 2 says “Write the program,” then Habit 3 says “Run the program,” “Live the program.” And living it is primarily a function of our independent will, our self-discipline, our integrity, and commitment – not to short-term goals and schedules or to the impulse of the moment, but to the correct principles and our own deepest values, which give meaning and context to our goals, our schedules, and our lives.”

“Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what “first things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.”


The last thing many students want to do is to help a friend get a better mark. Often, in schools is taught to compete instead of collaborating. Many of us believe that in order to win someone else has to lose. For instance, a student that helps a friend to study math, in addition to help him get a good mark, is improving his own knowledge at the same time. The fourth habit means to perceive life as cooperation instead of competition.


“Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a win-win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win-win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena.”

“I know of a divorce in which the husband was directed by the judge to sell the assets and turn over half the proceeds to his ex-wife. In compliance, he sold a car worth over $10,000 for $50 and gave $25 to the wife. When the wife protested, the court clerk checked on the situation and discovered that the husband was proceeding in the same manner systematically through all of the assets. Some people become so centered on an enemy, so totally obsessed with the behavior of another person that they become blind to everything except their desire for that person to lose, even if it means losing themselves. Lose-lose is the philosophy of adversarial conflict, the philosophy of war. Lose-lose is also the philosophy of the highly dependent person without inner direction who is miserable and thinks everyone else should be, too. “If nobody ever wins, perhaps being a loser isn’t so bad.”


Every person perceives the world through his beliefs and his personality, we can say through glasses of different colors. The mistake we make too often is to think we can understand another human being without changing glasses, without considering his belief. We perceive the content of every experience through the lenses of our own glasses. That’s why so often we don’t understand others people behaviors. We believe we can solve discussions without understanding the point of view of others. Instead, when we wear the same glasses of the person we are talking with, we see the world from his same perspective. we see the world with the same colors, therefore we can understand his emotions and his motivations. That’s when effective communication happens.


“Seek first to understand” involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.”

“When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It’s an entirely different paradigm. Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they feel.”


A group working synergistically creates alternatives that the individuals wouldn’t have been able to find, or else, the group is more efficient than the sum of its parts. Songs are a good example because the different instruments played at the same time create a better effect of every instrument played singularly.

In order to work synergistically is necessary to appreciate the differences between the components of the group. These differences, thanks to different points of view being shared between each individuals, improves the knowledge, comprehension, and the efficiency of the group itself.

synergize seven habits of highly effective people stephen covey example


“Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy – the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

“The person who is truly effective has the humility and reverence to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other human beings. That person values the differences because those differences add to his knowledge, to his understanding of reality. When we’re left to our own experiences, we constantly suffer from a shortage of data.”


A man is trying to saw a tree from hours when a friend comes by and says to him: “If you sharpen the saw you are going to take it down much faster.” The man replies: “Can’t you see I don’t have time to sharpen my saw I am to busy sawing.” Too often we behave exactly like the man that says he doesn’t have time to sharpen his saw. We are too busy to exercise 30 minutes per day; we let our health deteriorate. We don’t have fifteen minutes to spend reading every day, we don’t have time to meditate. These are Keystones Habits, habits that are going to influence positively others areas of our lives. These are the basis on which all the others six habits are built.


“The great reformer Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do today, I’ll need to spend another hour on my knees.” To him, prayer was not a mechanical duty but rather a source of power in releasing and multiplying his energies.”

“I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self-esteem is primarily a matter of mindset, of attitude – that you can psyche yourself into peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.”

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