Notes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen Covey

These minimal notes of mine barely do the book any justice at all, but I hope they will give you the flavor of Covey’s thinking. However, it’s the way Covey fleshes these out with stories and analogies that is so original and thought provoking. I’ve just read through the book for a second time and I am amazed once more at how well he describes the emotional, psychological, and spiritual construction of life.

Though I haven’t even listed the “7 habits,” you can go to Amazon (by clicking the link above) and one of the reviews gives a great run down on each habit.

  1. It’s okay that we continually fly “off course.” Just like the navigator on an airplane, we simply must continually re-direct ourselves, re-plot the course, and head again for the goal. As we veer off that course, we re-plot again, and again. You may always veer off some left or right, but you keep on re-focusing on the goal, re-plotting the course, and  you will get to your destination.
  2. Not saying the unkind or negative thing when you are provoked or fatigued is a supreme form of self mastery. It takes courage to implement.
    [and courage is the quality of every virtue at its highest testing point]
  3. Exercise patience. Patience is a very active emotion. Patience is emotional diligence.
  4. Always communicate intrinsic worth first.
  5. Distinguish—always—between the person and the behavior.
  6. Perform anonymous service. This is the best way to increase your own sense of intrinsic worth.
  7. Choose your response; don’t let someone else choose it for you by becoming re-active.
  8. Make promises to others and then keep them. Make promises to yourself and keep them. Keeping promises to others will increase your influence. Keeping promises to self builds genuine self esteem.
  9. It is better to be trusted than to be liked.
  10. Private victories precede public victories.
  11. You can’t talk your way out of a problem you acted your way into.
  12. Focus on the circle of influence. (Those things within the circle or sphere over which you have genuine power or influence). As you narrow your focus to this circle (and shift from worrying over all that lies outside it), the circle itself will enlarge.
  13. Direct control problems: When we have problems with people or matters directly under our influence or control, the problems are solved by changing our habits of doing and thinking.
  14. All people are very tender on the inside. Everyone deep down recognizes and distrusts techniques and manipulative formulas for human relationships. Cultivate sincere love.
  15. Speak as assuming good motives in others – this appeals to their better natures.
  16. Seek first to understand (rather than to be understood).
  17. Always reward open, honest expressions or questions.
  18. If offended, take the initiative, but describe your feelings rather than labeling or judging the other person.
  19. Admit your mistakes, apologize and ask for forgiveness – with no excuses or explanations.
  20. Let arguments fly out open windows.
  21. Go one on one.
  22. Continually renew your basic commitment to what you have in common. Differences are not ignored; they are subordinated.
  23. Allow yourself to be influenced by the other person first. This encourages them to be influenced by you. (Seek first to understand)
  24. Accept the person as he is. Nothing reinforces defensive behavior more than judgment, comparison, or rejection. Acceptance is not condoning a weakness or agreeing with an opinion. It is affirming intrinsic worth.
  25. Recognize the right time to teach: “Don’t try to teach a drowning man to swim”
    Teach only when people are not threatened, not frustrated, and feel inward security.
  26. Don’t give up, and don’t give in.
  27. It is unkind to shield people from the consequences of their own behavior. In doing so we are teaching them that they are inadequate or weak.
  28. We should try to understand the other person’s language as we would a foreign tongue.
  29. Give the other person time. This automatically communicates worth and says, “I’m willing to go at your speed. You’re worth it.”
  30. Delegate. This takes emotional courage.
  31. Train people in the “law of the harvest.” We reap what we sow. Agriculture model–it takes time. No quick fix. Make sure they get adequate compensation (“reaping”) to reflect and reinforce their work or “sowing.”
  32. Let natural consequences teach responsible behavior.
  33. What we are communicates much more eloquently than either what we say or what we do.
  34. The true essence of happiness comes from a willingness to subordinate what you want now to a greater gain in the long run.

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