Book Review on the Seven Habits of High Effective People

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Success is one of the basic human needs. People want to be happy and succeed in life. The problem is that the idea of success and its gaining differs in each individual case. Moreover, some people just dream about success, while some others try to reach it. There are many talented people who cannot become socially acknowledged and rich because they do not know how to apply, develop, and promote themselves. There are those who only feel shy and unconfident. There are some universal habits that can help in gaining success in life for gifted and talented people or those who lack any natural advantages. It is important to persist in striving to develop and not to give up.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R. Covey's was published in 1989. In 2004, after 15 years of the first edition, the book sold more than 15 million copies and was translated into over 380 languages. In August 2011, the magazine The Times called the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the 25 most influential business books in the world.

The author draws reader's attention to such important aspects of success as leadership and governance. This book describes a holistic approach to personal effectiveness. Covey defines habits such as a slice of knowledge, abilities, and desires. His seven habits are ranked according to the so-called maturity continuum from dependence to independence and on to the interpersonal relationship.

A dependent person waits passively for the coming events and hopes that someone will take care of him/her like a child who is dependent on others. Dependence does not give people a chance to take responsibility for their own lives. It is easy for them to blame others when something goes wrong. Independent people develop a sense of confidence and self-sufficiency, finding in it something useful that they can take for their own personal growth and life satisfaction. Finally, people with interpersonal dependence understand the impossibility of reaching the goal without the help of others. Such people seek to find a way to collaborate with others. It constantly grinds their own abilities or sharpens the blade in the words of Covey. Such people get satisfaction from emotions that the interpersonal relationships and teamwork carry.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a book about qualities that should be developed in people who want to succeed, about harmonious development of a person, and search for the sense in life. Stephen Covey studied a tremendous amount of literature on leadership for success, analyzed lives of many great people, and came to the conclusion that the basis for long-term success and true fulfillment of any person depended on certain fundamental principles and eternal truths that were efficient in any situation and under any circumstances. In fact, Covey uses modern language and tries to clear up all the examples by talking about moral and ethical values preached by all religions of the world (in this sense, the book looks like an attempt to create modern "10 Commandments", albeit without the concept of God).



Great influence on Stephen Covey was exerted by Viktor Frankly, author of the book To Say Life Yes: Psychologist in a Concentration Camp. Covey's philosophy is that people are always free to choose how to react to a particular situation. Even in the most desperate situation, in a situation of extreme bondage (as in prison), a person always has the freedom to act freely, thus showing that he or she is not a robot, not a puppet of the situation, but an active creator of personal destiny. In life, there are many situations when a person thinks that he or she has no way out, feels trapped in a trouble or debt. In such situations, a positive approach of Covey can be very handy. Stephen Covey gives an algorithm for how to develop skills to help any person to achieve and develop the hidden potential. Half of the world's largest corporations have held training seminars based on the book for their employees to build skills for successful business efficiency and personal life.

Steven Covey defines a skill as a synthesis of knowledge, skill, and desire. To improve any habit, it is necessary to work out three components: to study the theory, be able to apply it in practice, and find the motivation to use this habit. By organizing themselves and their time with the purpose and motivation to act, people are ready for the second phase: incorporation of habits related to interaction in the society. At this point, one can build a team for business.

Stephen Covey placed all habits on a continuum of maturity. Each skill builds on the previous ones. The first three skills refer to the development of personal values in one's own eyes and genuine freedom.

Habit 1. Be proactive (Be creator of the destiny).

People bear responsibility for their actions and lives in whole. Many people live as if by inertia. Even if they are not happy with something, they do not try to change anything. They remain helpless and reluctant, while waiting for its Majesty the case.

Being proactive does not mean mere initiative of people and responsibility for their lives. Many successful people recognize that responsibility means making informed choices. Exercising choice, people rely on their values, they do not complain about conditions. Such people are proud of their achievements and bear responsibility for themselves (Covey 65).

The basis of effectiveness is the ability to analyze events, choose the most appropriate strategy, and anticipate the possible outcome.

Habit 2. Put and imagine the ultimate goal.

This habit can be interpreted as the ability to see results in the beginning. This skill will be created in the imagination of a picture of what a person wants to achieve. Builder begins with the project. Composed sounds recorded on paper that exist in their imagination make a new song. Authors are confronted by a written outline of a future book.

In order to see results in the very beginning, one needs a clear understanding of goals and plans, as well as awareness of principles and values that will guide people in their activities. Bill Gates started Microsoft when he had an image of the company, which became the world's largest software maker with the highest turnover. Based on this mental image, he created the entity that was this dream (Covey 96).

Sooner or later, people ask themselves what their personal mission is. Realizing one's destiny can be the basis for proactivity. This applies to education and other valuables. It is essential to realize what goals one wants to pursue in life.

Habit 3. Do the most important things first.

It is important to understand what is urgent and crucial in terms of current issues. A successful person is someone who can prioritize and do things consistently. Covey recommends distinguishing tasks and starting with some that are the most important. Instead of focusing on what one needs to do, this skill requires a person to learn to manage his or her time and events effectively comparing them with the purpose.

The ability to start with the main states that achievement of results is possible due to focusing on relationship management and not just on the activity itself. For example, if the phone rings, a seller always comes off from any work that he/she is engaged at the moment and picks up the phone in the hope of getting a new customer as new customers are the key to commercial success (Covey 147).

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Movement of independence (self-control and self-discipline) to the interpersonal relationship (productive relationships with others) provides for open communication, creation of an effective team, and care for others. Creating effective relationships is what Stephen Covey calls social victory.

Habit 4. Think in the spirit of Your victory - my victory

Scheme Your victory - my victory is aimed at finding mutually beneficial cooperation and communication with other people. Finding solutions that satisfy both sides can be a difficult task. However, it is necessary to have long-term cooperation and interesting collaboration. The principle Your victory - my victory is realized by this skill. At the heart of the desire for total victory, there is understanding that success of the company needs cooperation between people. When people understand it, they combine their efforts in the collective work to ensure mutual success and opportunity for everyone to become a winner. Skill Your victory - my victory means that decisions taken in the team satisfy all its members and are perceived as mandatory. A highly effective leader helps employees realize that they will achieve success faster together than by themselves (Covey 204).

Habit 5. First seek to understand, then to be understood.

The essence of this skill is that people are trying to win and understand their interlocutors. Reaching such an interaction, each party can articulate their thoughts and beliefs and understand the principles of communication.

Effective communication is undoubtedly necessary for successful implementation of the company's objectives. Distorted wrong messages could bring lesions to large companies, armies, and nations. Many managers, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople still think that communication involves the ability to give orders, argue, and make excuses, while it primarily consists in active listening.

A listener should try to understand first and then search for understanding. Most people listen not with the intention to understand the interlocutor, but with a plan to quickly respond. They say or are preparing to speak, filtering everything they hear through their own stereotypes of perception. People should not act as judges, but they should learn to listen to others with the purpose to understand them and cultivate empathy (an empathy situation in which there is another person) (Covey 238).

When both sides understand each other, they always can find a common language. A listener should try focus entirely on the person he/she is talking to and not on how to quickly respond, Covey advises. A successful leader with this skill is equally fine tuned at customers and employees of the company.

Habit 6. Strive to achieve synergies (creative interaction).

Synergy is a significant increase or decrease in the capacity of a system. In a social system, a synergistic effect is manifested in collaborative problem solving. In addition, each participant can express his or her position and listen to opinions of others. Synergistic effect is due to attract a large amount of knowledge, experience, consideration of a large number of alternatives, and emergence of information among participants. It manifests itself in the case of maximum psychological compatibility unit of employees.

When two or more people work together trying to understand a phenomenon, they achieve synergies. Synergism occurs when people create new alternatives and solutions. The best chance to achieve synergy among those people who have different views on the same phenomenon, but who can benefit from these differences, is to find new opportunities for them (Covey 264).

It is necessary to increase effectiveness of the individual in acquiring the skill of synergy. It is the process of building a team, team collaboration, cohesion development, and management skills. Results of a properly operating synergistic process greatly exceed the individual's results.


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Synergies are created by people who have learned the principle of Your victory - my victory and who can listen and readily understand the other person. In other words, this habit is directly based on the previous two ones.

Habit 7. Sharpen the blade (constant improvement).

Skill 7 integrates all the previous ones. In essence, this process of constant improvement and self-education includes physical, mental, spiritual, and social aspects of human life. The basis of continuing improvement is intensive self-study of a student who can learn at one's own place on an individual schedule with a set of special teaching aids and agree with the teacher the opportunity to communicate by phone, fax, email, or regular mail, as well as personally. In some cases, development means revision of goals and content of traditional education, which should equip a person willing to retrain and in this regard applying willingness to set goals for adequate self-assessment and reflection, ability to restructure operations and self-organize (Covey 289).

Stephen Covey advises people to improve themselves, maintain a high level of efficiency, and reach new levels of self-perception.

To conclude, it is necessary to underline that the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was in the bestseller list of the magazine New York Times for 220 weeks. It sold over 3 million copies; the book was translated into 40 languages. Training Center of Stephen Covey teaches over 30,000 people a year. Summarily, habits can become steps for consequent development of one's success and competence.

Nowadays, in the beginning of the third millennium, the most important life goal of every conscious person is continuous learning, as well as development of his/her professional and personal qualities.

Dynamics of the contemporary society presents a prospect of lifelong learning. Contemporary socio-economic situation requires constant efforts in the struggle for self-improvement and continuity of professional growth. In the context of growing social tension, the ability to govern himself/herself and use his/her creative abilities has increased dramatically for every person, which has become the most valuable capital today.

According to Covey, a synergetic approach is the utmost form of perception of the world. Human personality develops in an atmosphere of social acknowledgement and approval. Individual talents are developed when they are shared and seen. The ability to enjoy every coming moment and share joy leads to new levels of self-realization. The book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can greatly contribute to this process.

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