The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. “Every so often a book comes along that not only alters the lives of readers but leaves an imprint on the culture itself. The 7 Habits is one of those books.” –Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author of When and Drive One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Book Review

The book’s message is practical, logical and the ideas might stand the test of time. One of my favourite books in terms of the key message, but surely not one I would read them again.


The key points in the book are simple enough to be turned into a one-pager summary, such as this blog post, and I would prefer to read another book just to add more “dots”. Maybe I’ll learn something newer, fresher.

In all honesty, I rated the book at 4.5/5.0★. But I would prefer Ray Dalio’s Principle better.

Click to read my review on Ray Dalio’s Principle HERE.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Book Summary

Again, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a worthwhile manual for self-improvement which present seven simple guides as to which we should be able to adapt to simply be more effective.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are:

  1. They take initiative. “Be proactive.”
  2. They focus on goals. “Begin with the end in mind.”
  3. They set priorities. “Put first things first.”
  4. They only win when others win. “Think win/win.”
  5. They communicate. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
  6. They cooperate. “Synergize.”
  7. They reflect on and repair their deficiencies. “Sharpen the saw.”

If you notice, the key message here is to focus on developing a sound character. Focus on yourself. Our personality should be based on great character traits with the right positive principles, and we should record our principle. In case we need to make a quick reference to them.

However, if we force ourselves to act in a way that is inconsistent with our character, we tend to burn out, tend to feel like a fake. This my friend, is self-destructive. It could also be deceptive and manipulative.


Basic Principle and Values

Most organization nowadays have their own principle and values, or cultural values, a set of values they company want their employees to embody. These set of values make people more effective, more dependable.

Values such as fairness, equity, integrity, loyalty, cohesiveness, professionalism, honesty, excellence, patience, perseverance, courage, resourcefulness and etc recognizes boundless potential.

Those who adopted these values, regardless if it is a company cultural value would grow into a leader who has mastery over him or her self. They could be a source of inspiration and an example for those they lead, and for those who are leading them.

How to develop powerful habits?

In order to develop the habits of acting on these principles, we must:

  1. Know what we want to do and why we want to do it.
  2. Develop the skills required
  3. Desire. As Think and Grow Rich suggests, without desire, we can accomplish nothing.

Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. You need to know this, and at times I need to remind myself as well that “the most important work is the inner work“.

When we have mastery over ourself, the outside world has no control over us. We can be happy even in the darkest moment. And that is true power.


Here is an interesting analogy.

They are like the fellow who runs several hours a day and boasts of the extra years he’ll live but neglects to notice that he is spending all of his extra time running. He may gain extra years, but he won’t be able to do anything more with them, and the time he spends running might better be spent developing deeper relationships with his spouse, family and friends.

#Disclaimer: this is not an advice for anyone to not exercise.

Now, let us take a deeper look The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


Habit 1: Be Proactive

Highly proactive people take the initiative, hence, making them proactive. We need to recognize that we have the freedom, the ability to choose and to determine the kind of character we will have because we can decide how we act.

Yes, we may never be able to control our circumstances, but we can decide what to do, how to act, and the story we tell ourselves on the adversity that happens. By doing so, we learned how to be optimistic, how we can use such adversity to our benefits.

Be proactive is one of the Principles of Personal Vision.

“The most effective way I know to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed.”

If you’ve read before on my book review on Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, his narration on his experience in Nazis death camp was an incredibly tragic story. But Frankl recognized, even though bound by the death camp, his mind is still free. He recognized that he could decide how we would think and act, visualizing himself in teaching, and the warmth of his wife.

His mental discipline made him stronger and enduring during such a difficult period.

“By centering our lives on timeless, unchanging principles, we create a fundamental paradigm of effective living.”


Choose your words carefully

Begin to be proactive by minding our own business, starting with how we choose our words. This reminds me of a quote by Albus Dumbledore on the power of words.

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

So, choose your words carefully.

  • Not, I can’t do anything – but, let’s think about some possibilities.
  • Not, that’s just me – but, I can change the way I am.
  • Not, he drives me up the wall – but, I can choose how I’ll let him affect me.
  • Not, I can’t or I have to – but, I will decide and I will choose.

“Effective management is putting first things first.”

Start by seeing what you can do, by taking responsibility and acting the way you should. Keep on expanding your sets of skill, even a 0.1% daily improvement would be wonderous over a year period.

Commit to yourself, change something interiorly and that may just change the world.


Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Think carefully about your end in mind, your goals.

Don’t spend a lifetime chasing someone else goals, that someone else might be your parents, boss or anyone else close to you. A lifetime spent pursuing a goal that proves meaningless, unsatisfying to you would only lead to regrets.

Begin by drafting a personal mission statement that outlines your goals and describes the kind of person you want to be. Think carefully about this mission statement.

Examine yourself. See yourself as you really are.

Are you self-centred? A workaholic? Money-grubbing?

Decide what you need to change and what you want to become. Write the statement. Make a commitment to yourself. Keep that commitment.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

We have the power to change who we are by changing how we choose to act. Therefore, we the one who needs to sort and put our priorities in order. Never let our most important priorities fall victim to the least important.

Remember to learn and differentiate between the “important” and the “urgent” task. Use your time well. Think of your various roles as a spouse, a parent, a manager, or a community volunteer. Give each role an appropriate allotment of time on your schedule.


Habit 4: Think Win/Win

In marriage, business or other relationships, exercise “interpersonal leadership” to make both parties winners. Two wins make everyone better off; two losses places everyone in a worse situation.

A win/lose relationship creates a victor and leaves someone injured. Highly effective people strive for win/win transactions, which make it profitable for everyone to cooperate because all the parties are better off in the end.

Any other kind of transaction is destructive because it produces losers and, therefore, enemies and bad feelings, such as animosity, defeat and hostility.

Highly effective people become highly effective by multiplying their allies, not their enemies.

A good alliance is win/win.


Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Communication is a two-way street. To develop win/win relationships, find out what the other parties want, and what winning means to them.

✔ Don’t assume you know. Listen.
✔ Always try to understand what the other people want and need before you begin to outline your own objectives.
✔ Do not object, argue or oppose what you hear. Listen carefully, and think about it.
✔ Try to put yourself in the other party’s shoes.

“Think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.”

Always understand what the other party needs and wants, and why. Then, when you outline your own objectives, put them in terms that respond directly to the other party’s goals.


Habit 6: Synergize

Cooperation multiplies the power of one. In fact, “creative cooperation” may yield a force greater than the sum of the parts, just as an arch can support a greater weight than two pillars can hold. The arch multiples the power of both pillars.

The buzzword to describe this kind of relationship is “synergy,” which means bringing together a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

“Real self-respect comes from dominion over self.”

Effective synergy depends on communication. Cooperation and communication are the two legs of a synergistic relationship. Listen, reflect, respond and actively cooperate.


Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

In an old yarn, a man is sawing a log. The work is going slowly and the man is exhausted. The more he saws, the less he cuts. A passerby watches for a while and suggests that the man should take a break to sharpen the saw. But the man says he can’t stop to sharpen the saw because he is too busy sawing!

A dull saw makes the work tiresome, tedious and unproductive. Highly effective people take the time they need to sharpen their tools, which are, in fact, their bodies, souls, mind and hearts. It’s time for “self-renewal.”

Effective people take care of their bodies with a program of exercise that combines endurance, flexibility and strength. It’s easy to plan such a program, and you don’t have to join a gym to implement it.

Effective people care for their souls with prayer and meditation, if they are inclined to a religiously-grounded spirituality, or perhaps by reading great literature or listening to great music. Never neglect this spiritual dimension; it provides the energy for the rest of your life.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Mental repair may mean changing your habits, such as the habit of watching television. Television watching encourages passive absorption of values, attitudes and dispositions that dull the mind. Read, work puzzles, do math or engage in some challenging activity to keep your mind alert, active and engaged.

The heart refers to emotions, which depend greatly on others. Work to develop your heart, your emotional connections and your engagement with other people. Communicate, listen and be undemanding.

In everything you do, try to make others better off and put them first. By doing so, you’ll transform yourself into a highly effective person.

Read the book



Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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