The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [Book Review]

When I think of career categories that make the most money, there are always three that come to mind. In third place, having an expertise in technology (computer science, physical scientist, and engineering) is highly valuable in the creation the large-margin profit goods in our ever-advancing economy. For second place, the people who handle money well (stocks, banks, treasuries) are paid kindly in return (with large stocks of money). You want to treat people kindly when they’re handling millions of your investments, unless you don’t mind NOT have millions anymore…..

But I truly believe that the most sought-after career skill is in effective organizational leadership and management. These are the CEOs and top executives, the program leaders and project managers, and large business owners. You can always buy equipment and materials, but improving your workforce’s functionality is a major endeavor. When a new employee is hired or a new company is acquired, additional time must be personally sacrificed to properly train the new acquisition. If done poorly or by only using quick fixes, supervisors are stuck active-supervising and micro-management duties. Deep training is required for a person/unit to function independently, to relieve leaders of “low-level” duties to allow time for “higher-level” practices. These activities could be acquiring more workers or companies, researching the optimal direction the company should take, and re-evaluating or even re-inventing the business as a whole in an ever-changing market.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen Covey, aims to teach those in that last category, or just about anyone, on building the necessary people skills in any environment.  This literature was first published in 1989, so it has been around for a while. The book has gain worldwide recognition, and there’s even a following of “further readings” to contribute to the fundamentals in this work.

Being a very popular book, I’ll try and just hit the highlights.

People are very sensitive beings, especially to each other. When we interact, we typically have a good grasp on sensing the motives of other people. That is due to the theory that how a person portrays her actions is strongly dependent on the characteristics of the individual. A person in a volunteering position will appear more generous if they aren’t internally looking for some sort of feedback, praise, recognition, and/or acceptance.

Thus, in order to be effective (not efficient) working with other members of society, one must first build on his own character. That’s the first half of the book: personal independence. To achieve this, the individual must 1) be pro-active with his actions and not worry about uncontrollable external factors, 2) decide what his ultimate goals are, and 3) learn to manage the time and resources available to best advance towards those goals.

While there are plenty of examples in the book, including career, family, and personal goals, there’s no specific checklist of “what has to be done.” This is up to the individual to decide for himself. I made my own personal statement today, and I realized that I had to think of a higher level accordingly. A level where there’s no mastery or completion, but a direction that I can keep progressing in. I realize that I don’t need an end, but an enjoyable journey to keep life fulfilling and interesting.

This is what I came up with, and I can see it slowly changing over the upcoming years:


With a strong independent foundation, one can then reap and sow the advantageous possibilities achievable with those around them. This is the main goal of the book; to acquire a healthy lifestyle of interdependence (not to be confused with dependence). Knowing how to how to work with others, even if they are quite different in character from you, to create a synergistic working environment that is more productive than what the individuals could accomplish independently.

But of course, every book in its own way is always trying to sell you something. Something different, something new. Whether it be a “quick fix” or a deep personal transformation to fix a problem you may have.

Sometimes an issue you have not even realized until “this book” came into your life. Does that ring any bells? Not going to lie, I myself have experienced that more than once.

Additionally, it’s interesting to look back on previous “personal help” books I’ve read and compare them to this work. Recently, I wrote a review on The Rationale Male, a work on inter-gender (male/female) interactions, which seemed to have some truths behind its long “rant” of a novel. While The 7 Habits focuses on empathy and synergy, The Rational Male seems to throw out interdependence, proclaiming a male’s success is based on his independence, becoming unperturbed and even incoherent of the input and actions from the “typical women” in order to maintain attraction.

But both books strongly picture the success that comes with a person’s ability to build and maintain their frame. Frame is a term to describe who you are and what you do based on your character. If you can do that, both works emphasize that this practice builds respect. People will take you seriously. You become a role model that people want to follow and become. You act on your environment instead of being acted upon. In other words, you can move the game pieces, instead of playing the role of the pawn.

I’d rather play the role of the king, which is the most protected and least likely piece to die. But that’s another rant….

This book is not the ultimate truth, of course. No one book is. But it is another tool that one can acquire knowledge or a potential habit (or more), if taken with an open mind, that may improve the quality of your lifestyle. Or at least an improvement in the way you see your surroundings. To see what goes wrong or what succeeds. And most importantly, why!

Learn the underlying workings of your life and surroundings, in order to effectively build on your sense of self-fulfillment in life, no matter what it is.


Note: It amazes me that Dr. Covey passed away a well-established man, while being able to successfully raise 9 kids (and each of those had an average of 5 kids as well….). The large family could be because of a strong religious background, which he STRONGLY hints at in the last page of the last chapter. And if you aren’t a fan of religion, don’t worry. It’s ONLY the last page; feel free to rip it out if its that distasteful to you…..

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