The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Have You Read It?
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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Have You Read It?


Have you ever read the book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey?

When I ask this question in my corporate training courses, about 10% of people say yes…the other 90% say either no…or not yet…or have never heard of it!

I think this book is an excellent core resource for personal and professional excellence.  I have had this book in my library for about 25 years, and it is one that I review regularly to check in with myself, to see if I am still set in the direction I am aiming, or if I am veering off track in any way.

Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" has stood the test of time, the first publication of this book was released in 1989.   It offers principles that guide individuals toward success and fulfilment.

At the heart of Covey's philosophy lies the transformative power of self-awareness and proactive living.

One of the key habits introduced in the book is called "Begin with the End in Mind". It is about the power of two creations – first the mental, then the physical.  This habit encourages us to spend time creating a clear mental image of the desired outcome we hope to achieve. This can give us a sense of purpose and direction – very much a road map – which steers our actions towards meaningful and intentional efforts.

Another key aspect of Covey's philosophy is the idea of creating a Character-Based Mission Statement.

The idea here goes beyond our long-term goals, and it prompts questions such as: “Why do I do what I do…why do I think what I think….why do I say what I say?”  and incorporates values and principles that guide our actions. A character-based mission statement is like a compass which provides a “true north…”  a moral and ethical framework to make choices in alignment with our core beliefs.

By integrating the power of creation and a character-based mission statement, we can discover keys in our journey of personal and professional success. Some of the other principles in the book underscore the significance of understanding before seeking to be understood, fostering empathy and developing communication skills that are crucial for successful interactions.

My Story

I remember setting my own character-based mission statement when I first read the book.  A few key concepts emerged as critical core values for me:

• Tell the Truth

• Be Kind

• Be Authentic

• Help Others

No matter what type of work I have done since I graduated from college (a LONG time ago), I have endeavoured to live out these principles.  If a workplace I have been a part of has not embraced these values, I’ve needed to make the decision to leave.  When others have challenged these values, I have had to make the decision to challenge them back, and if we could not come to some compromise, it was time for me to move in a different direction.

It's the power of personal responsibility to live and act within our guiding principles.

From a Coaching Perspective

As an observation, a consistent theme I have found in coaching is that people who are generally unhappy in their work either have a tenuous relationship with their direct supervisor or are in a workplace where they either feel that they are not making a difference, or where their internal core values do not align with the department or with the organisation. Living in this incongruous situation for a long time creates an internal sense of discontent, dis-ease and possibly disillusionment. If we don't make a change somewhere, this will have negative consequences along the way.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to bring awareness or progress in their own personal and professional development.  Self-awareness is the first step…but in my experience, taking ownership and accountability of our own journey will help us to be more content in the work that we do and the decisions we make in our everyday lives.

Credit: Photo by cottonbro studio (