Conversations Magazine ~ All About BOOKS

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Read. Think. Soar. Non-Fiction You Can Use

by Kathy Holzapfel

Life doesn't come with an instruction manual. This means we each get to assemble our own; one that can be customized, updated, and overhauled at will. How empowering! In this column, we'll explore ways to promote positive growth via books and programs on success and personal development.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
By Stephen R. Covey
Version reviewed: Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-7432-6951-3
Published by: Simon & Schuster, Free Press, 2004 (revised edition)
Nonfiction categories: Self Help, Business & Investing
Note: Originally published in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, is still ranked in Amazon's Top 100 Books, and in Amazon’s Top 10 for the categories Self Help and Business & Investing, as of July 2013.

The late Stephen R. Covey, Ph.D. – businessman, teacher, author – amassed an amazing list of achievements, awards, and honors during his lifetime, including recognition as one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans. While Dr. Covey published a number of bestselling non-fiction titles - Everyday Greatness, First Things First, The 8th Habit, to name a few - the phenomenal success of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People remains a pinnacle of accomplishment with 25 million copies printed in 38 languages, worldwide. And it’s still a top seller. The audio version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold 15 million copies to-date, making it one of the bestselling nonfiction audio-books in history and the first nonfiction audio-book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change is a principle-centered methodology that can be applied personally and professionally to resolve problems, strengthen talents, and make the most of life’s opportunities.

Many people are familiar with a few, if not all, of the individual habits. The complete list follows, but don’t let their brevity fool you. In the book, Dr. Covey expands each habit, giving it an uncommon depth and breadth.

The 7 Habits:
#1: Be Proactive (Principles of Personal Vision)

#2: Begin with the End in Mind (Principles of Personal leadership)

#3: Put First Things First (Principles of Personal Management)

#4: Think Win-Win (Principles of Interpersonal Leadership)

#5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
    (Principles of Empathetic Communication)

#6: Synergize (Principles of Creative Cooperation)

#7: Sharpen the Saw (Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal)

Designed to be studied and adopted sequentially, the habits build on one another. The habits are grouped in a multi-tiered hierarchy that moves a person from dependence, to independence and interdependence, by looking inward at the individual, then shifting outward to the environment. 

The first three habits are called “Private Victories” and deal with self-mastery, strengthening and defining the reader’s character base. Habits 4, 5, and 6 are “Public Victories,” with a focus on teamwork, cooperation and communication. The 7th habit is a process of ongoing renewal that encompasses all the other habits, while spiraling upward toward perpetual improvement.

Graphics and tables visually enhance the text. Each habit is defined and explained in straightforward language, with plenty of examples and anecdotes. The chapters end with Application Suggestions, a series of practical, proactive exercises to help implement the habit.

The book is divided into four parts:
·         Part One: Paradigms and Principles: an introduction and overview of the habits.
·         Part Two: Private Victory: introduces habits 1, 2, and 3.
·         Part Three: Public Victory: covers habits 4, 5, and 6.
·         Part Four: Renewal: looks at habit 7 and how they interrelate.

The revised (2004) edition includes a foreword with Dr. Covey’s thoughts on the timeless relevance of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. There is also an afterword where Covey gets personal and tackles the most frequent questions asked since the book’s release. I liked the question about which habit Dr. Covey personally had the greatest difficulty with. To learn that the process was ongoing for him was heartening.

The one line which seemed to sum up the book’s premise is from the foreword: “If you want to achieve your highest aspirations and overcome your greatest challenges, identify and apply the principle or natural law that governs the results you seek.” That’s exactly what the 7 habits do.

The number itself - 7 - is an amenable, doable quantity – emphasis on doable. Action is required. Knowledge alone is static. Wisdom, however, is personal. Wisdom is mixing knowledge with action and experience. The 7 habits are a solid way to develop principle-based personal power. Mastery of the habits entails practice, application and feedback – all the usual requirements for distinction.   

How to begin to implement the habits in today’s busy world? Start with one of the exercises suggested for each habit. Or concentrate on one habit for a thirty day period. (Imagine your life seven months later!) You could also blog about your experience with each habit. Public commitment is a powerful way to stay the course.

Bonus! Here’s a cool tool: Visit and register to join the free online learning community. As of July 2013, the community had over 270,000 members. You’ll find videos, exercises, planning tools, and forums. Groups are available, with interest categories ranging from body goals, to geographical areas, to company groups. You can also connect with people who share your interests and invite others to join.

Keep a highlighter and pen handy to note passages that speak to you. This book has a number of useful charts that can be utilized immediately. One of my favorites is the Time Management Matrix, which categorizes activities in four quadrants of importance and urgency.  

In addition to the print and digital copies, the book is available in audio and DVD versions. For those who like a hands-on approach, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Personal Workbook is available.

Two additional titles that expand on the 7 habits are: Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. There are also specialized audio programs including: The 7 Habits for Managers, The 7 Habits for Network Marketing Professionals, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marriage. Franklin/Covey, a business Dr. Covey co-founded, offers a number of live and online workshops based on the habits.

Highly recommended. (Yes, that’s all you’ll find here. The best, for the best.) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change is a thought-provoking book. It asks you to work on yourself first, to assess habits and processes before delving outward in committed change. The trajectory of that change will be meaningful and personal. The path of individual excellence is different for each of us, but the destination is the same: the top.

Page count:     Main text: 307 pages (approx.)
Front matter: 20 pages (Table of Contents, foreword, etc.)
Back matter: 54 pages (FAQs, appendices, index, etc.)
Chapters:         11 sections, 1 habit per chapter, plus explanation/illustration of each part
Chapters range in length from 55 pages to 21 pages. Graphics and tables are sprinkled throughout the text.
Formats:          Hardcover, paperback, eBooks Kindle/Nook/Apple, Audiobook
Library:           Widely available. lists over 3600 libraries in the U.S. with copies.

The copy reviewed was purchased by Kathy Holzapfel. No material connection.

Award-winning novelist and life coach, Kathy Holzapfel is passionate about creativity and personal development. Please visit her website and blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment