The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey) - Book Summary

The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides an in-depth analysis of the habits that each of us needs to practice and develop if we want to work effectively and be successful in life and career.

This is a world famous book on personal development and leadership talent. The book has been published in more than 20 million copies in more than 38 languages, and has been on the bestseller list since 1989.

Author Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012),  an American educator, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. He is the author of many of the world's top books on leadership and personal development.

7 Habits that “Solve” Challenges and Help Us Succeed

In this era, we always face challenges: fear and inferiority; desperate thoughts, deadlock; heavy responsibilities; desire and ambition to possess; imbalance in life; selfish; conflicts and differences with others; desire to be heard… And many people can write dozens of pages of paper about the difficulties and challenges they face every day.

So what are the solutions to these challenges?

Let's embrace change and let the seven habits of successful people become our own. When we do, we not only face every challenge in a positive way, but we also become a different person: a successful person, effective personally and in relationships.


Habits are consistent, sometimes unconscious patterns that manifest our regular personality. They determine the effectiveness of our activities and create our inner strength. It can be said that habits are one of the important factors that determine the fate of each person.

Habits, especially bad ones, are very attractive and very difficult to change or give up. If we understand the nature of habits and have a high determination, we can give up bad habits and learn good habits.

To build a habit we need to have all 3 elements:  (1) Knowledge:  what to do and why; (2) Skills : how to do and  (3) Aspiration: motivation, will to act

The main effect is the balance P/PC

Aesop's story of the goose that lays the golden eggs (27) tells that:

A lucky farmer has a goose that lays golden eggs. And every day, the goose lays another golden egg. Thanks to that, the farmer became richer and more greedy, then he decided to kill the goose to get all the eggs in its belly. But the goose did not have an egg in its stomach, and since then the farmer has had no more golden eggs.

The story shows that efficiency is really a function of two variables:  product  , which is what is produced (golden eggs), and  means  , which is the capacity to produce (the goose).

If we adopt the product-centered life model (the eggs) and ignore the means of production (the goose), we will lose the means of production. But if we only take care of the goose and don't care about the golden eggs, then there will be nothing to feed the goose.

Efficiency depends on both factors:  P  is the product (Production) and  PC  is the production capacity (Production Capability). The P/PC balance   is at the core of efficiency.

An effective company cannot only care about customers but ignore employees. An effective person is not because of overwork that does not care about keeping his health.

The P/PC balance always exists and is valid in all areas of life. It is the definition, the model of success and also the basis for forming the seven habits.

The seven habits of highly successful people include:

Three habits of personal achievement : proactive choice; target selection; act for what matters most;
Three habits of collective achievement : win-win thinking; listen and understand; cooperation, showing independence;
A habit of evolving innovation.

And the Seven Habits are not a discrete collection but are closely associated with a continuous, translational approach that enhances personal effectiveness and that individual's relationships.

Habit 1: Always be proactive

Unlike other animals, each of us has the freedom to choose how to react and act when receiving stimuli.

Proactive people always know how to use their freedom of choice to respond to stimuli and have the ability to react correctly in most conditions and situations.

This is an essential requirement of a successful and happy person. They actively think and use active words.

Instead of saying  “There's nothing I can do about it”, they say, “Let's find another way”; instead of saying  “He drives me crazy”, they say “I know how to control my emotions”; instead of saying  "I can't" , they say  "I can"  or  "I choose to..." , instead of seeing love as an emotion, the proactive person considers love a verb. Love motivates us to act: to sacrifice, to give and to lower our ego.

Based on the four innate human abilities of imagination, conscience, independent will, and self-perception, proactive people define themselves as  “the creators of everything and responsible for all their actions.” mine".

" The proactive person " will focus their intelligence, energy, and time on the Circle of Influence, which includes things and events they can control and manage. With their positive energy, they expand their circle of influence more and more.

On the other  hand, "Passive people"  are on the contrary, they focus on the Circle of Concern, which includes issues beyond their control, beyond their ability to influence and influence.

This reverse focus, instead of focusing on the circle of influence, they focus on the circle of influence, which will lead to an attitude of blame, condemnation and not taking responsibility for their actions. Focusing on the Circle of Interest plus neglecting what can be done shrinks the Circle of Influence.

Habit #2: Start with a defined goal

Let's think deeply about what our goal is. Many people have lived and achieved "ephemeral" achievements and at the end of their lives realize they have not achieved a proper goal.

Each of us can have a focus or a combination of different focuses for our lives: family, money, work, possessions, pleasures, friends, rivals, religion, self, couple…

Successful people create for themselves a coordinated focus so that they can achieve the four factors: Safety, Direction, Wisdom and Competence at their peak. As a result, successful people are always proactive and harmoniously combine all aspects of life.

To get into the habit of “starting with a defined goal,” we must establish a personal mission statement. This statement is based on values ​​and principles and clearly shows who we want to be (character), what we will do (deed, achievement).

We must not only manage our lives – do the right thing – but we must also lead our lives – do the right thing – to always work towards the defined goal.

Habit #3: Prioritize what's most important

We manage time according to a matrix of four parts:

The first part:  (left, top) includes urgent and important activities;
The second part:  (right side, top) includes non-urgent but important activities;
The third part:  (left, bottom) includes urgent but not important activities;
The fourth part:  (right, bottom) includes activities that are neither urgent nor important.

Unsuccessful people spend 90% of the time on the first part (Important and Urgent) and 10% on the fourth part (Not Important and Not Urgent).

Others spend their time on the third part (Urgent, Not Important) but always think they are in the first part.

Successful people spend very little time on the third and fourth parts. They will also minimize the time spent on the first part to focus their precious time on the second (Non Urgent – ​​Important). This section includes tasks such as: building relationships, writing personal mission statements, making long-term plans… – they are important and necessary things but rarely done because they are not urgent. .

To be able to focus on this second box and say “No” to all sorts of unimportant things, successful people must always rely on principles, personal mission, roles, and goals.

The tool used to create the second quadrant activities should meet the following six important criteria:

  1. Coherence:  there must be harmony, unity and cohesion between vision and mission, between roles and goals, between priorities and plans, between will and discipline;
  2. Balance:  balance life and do not ignore an important factor such as health, family, career preparation or personal development;
  3. The basic unit of time is the week
  4. Pay attention to the human side;
  5. Flexibility:  tools must serve people, not the other way around, and tools must reflect our styles, needs, and ways;
  6. Compactness:  easy to carry and easy to use.

To become an effective second umbrella self-manager, we need to define and identify all our roles such as father, husband, son, business director, friend... and have goals. unique importance for each role to pursue and perform.

Sentiment accounts and six ways to deposit into a sentimental account

The sentimental account is a metaphor that describes the level of trust built into a relationship. It is a feeling of security, of trust between ourselves and others.

Suppose we deposit a friend's affection account with courtesy, kindness, sincerity, and keep our commitments to our friend, then we have established a reserve. A friend's trust in us will be higher, and when needed we can rely on that trust.

There are six ways to deposit another person's affection account including:

(1) getting to know the individual,
(2) taking care of the smallest things,
(3) maintaining credibility, always keeping promises,
(4) clarifying relationship expectations,
(5) being able to show one's own integrity
(6) honestly admit mistakes when making mistakes.

Habit 4: Think win-win

The six modes of interaction include:

(1) win together,
(2) win/lose,
(3) lose/win,
(4) lose/lose,
(5) win only,
(6) win together or no contract.

In real life, most situations have an interdependence relationship, so the win-win mindset is the most appropriate solution.

The principle of win-win is the fundamental principle of success in all human interactions. It includes five aspects of interdependence, starting with personality, then relationships to form agreements.

It must be nurtured in a structured and disciplined environment built on win-win thinking. The principle of win-win cannot be achieved by people with a win/lose, lose/win or lose/lose mindset.

The fifth habit: Listening and understanding

People often have the habit of imposing their subjective thoughts on the circumstances of others. A metaphor for this approach is as follows: the eye doctor suggested that the patients with poor vision use the glasses he was using, because he thought that if he could see clearly, they would also see clearly!

To avoid this tendency to impose or give hasty advice, we need to listen and understand others.

To practice effective communication habits, you should not only rely on communication techniques, but build yourself an attitude of listening and understanding that leads to openness and trust. We also need to open emotional accounts to create understanding between two souls.

Habit Six: Synergy

The synergy is always stronger than the parts put together. Cooperation and synergy are essential requirements of the principle-centered leadership model. It is a catalyst that helps to unite and unleash the great power within each of us.

Teamwork always brings better results. It is the full result of many other habits. It brings success in an interdependent reality – teamwork, team building, developing solidarity and creativity with others.

Cooperation does not mean homogenizing everyone. In contrast, cooperation respects the differences of each of us in intellectual, emotional, psychological, viewpoint and way of looking at problems.

Habit Seven: Practice and develop yourself

The seventh habit is the habit of maintaining, developing and increasing our own wealth. We must always practice and innovate in the following four aspects:

(1) Physical:  practice sports, nutrition, control pressure;
(2) Intellectual:  learning and reading, visualizing, planning, writing;
(3) Spirit:  values, commitment, study, meditation;
(4) Social, emotional relationships:  service, understanding/sympathy, cooperation, intrinsic safety.

Innovation and practice is a principle and a process that helps us grow and move forward along the spiral of growth and continuous innovation.

This path of growth requires us to learn, commit and do it every day at a higher and higher level. No level is high enough to stop.

We must continuously develop, continuously learn – commit – do, continuously do – learn – commit and continuously commit – do – learn… Alternately and continuously follow the growth path. spiral.