Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People®

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits are a simple set of rules for life – interrelated and synergistic, and yet each one powerful and worthy of adopting and following in its own right. For many people, reading Covey’s work, or listening to him speak, literally changes their lives. We think this is incredibly powerful and recommend it highly.

habit 1 – be proactive®

This is the ability to control one’s environment, rather than have it control you, as is so often the case. Self-determination, choice and the power to decide, response to stimulus, conditions and circumstances.

habit 2 – begin with the end in mind®

Covey calls this the habit of personal leadership – through self-discovery you lead yourself towards what you consider your life goals. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.

habit 3 – put first things first®

Covey calls this the habit of personal management. This is about organising and implementing activities in line with the aims established in habit 2. Covey says that habit 2 is the first, or mental creation; habit 3 is the second, or physical creation.

habit 4 – think win-win®

Covey calls this the habit of interpersonal leadership, necessary because achievements are largely dependent on co-operative efforts with others. He says that win-win is based on the assumption that there is plenty for everyone, and that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation of win-or-lose.

habit 5 – seek first to understand and then to be understood®

One of the great maxims of the modern age. This is Covey’s habit of communication, and it’s extremely powerful. Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy ‘diagnose before you prescribe’. Simple and effective, and essential for developing and maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life.

habit 6 – synergise®

Covey says this is the habit of creative co-operation – the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which implicitly lays down the challenge to see the good and potential in the other person’s contribution.

habit 7 – sharpen the saw®

This is the habit of self-renewal, says Covey, and it necessarily surrounds all the other habits, enabling and encouraging them to happen and grow. Covey interprets the self into four parts: the spiritual, mental, physical and the social/emotional, which all need feeding and developing.

This 7 Habits summary is just a brief overview – the full work is fascinating, comprehensive and thoroughly uplifting. Read the book, or listen to the full audio series if you can get hold of it.

N.B. Various phrases on this page are registered trademarks belonging to Stephen Covey.

Stephen Covey’s principles are protected intellectual property and feature strongly in the Franklin Covey organisation’s portfolio of products and services.

Give us a call on 01865 881056 or email us at if you’d like to discuss any of these issues raised here in more detail.