The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The Essence of the Book:

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Stephen Covey

Written by Albert Goldrich

Table of Content:

1. What is it about? In a Nutshell

2. The Essence: Turning Flowers into Pure Perfume

3. Infographic: Big Picture & Key Ideas

4. Flashcards: Turn Knowledge into Action

5. Beyond The Book: Take it to the Next Level

1. What is it about?

In a Nutshell

Get an Overview of how The Essence of this Book may help you become more knowledgeable, more effective, more successful, and better version of yourself. 

This Essence is best suited for you if:

The Essence of the Book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is best suited for you if you want to lead your personal and professional Life in a truly effective way, and also if you want to improve your interpersonal communication. 

This Essence is about the timeless principles of effectiveness that will help you achieve a personal and interpersonal growth. It is about developing an awareness of how perceptions and assumptions can sometimes hinder success in business and personal relationships. That is the reason you need to examine and improve the lens through which you see the world. In other words, you have to shift your paradigms in order to change your behavior.

It is our character that needs to be cultivated to achieve sustainable success, not our personality. We have to focus on characteristics such as integrity, fidelity, courage, and justice, and not just alter our attitudes and behaviors on the surface level.

Those principles, also described as the habits will help you move from a state of dependence, to independence, and finally to interdependence. The seven habits are defined as:

Part 1: Internal Life

   1. Be Proactive

   2. Begin with the End in Mind

   3. Put First Things First

Part 2: Relationship with Others

   4. Think Win-Win

   5. Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood

   6. Synergize

Part 3: Self-Renewal 

   7. Sharpen the Saw – Continuous Improvement

2. The Essence:

Turning Flowers into Pure Perfume

Distilling Wisdom, Ideas, Insights, and Knowledge into Essential Action-Oriented and Easy-to-understand Content “The Essence”. It’s like making Flowers into Pure Perfume. You get just “The Essence” you need.

Distillate: A purified form, a liquid condensed from vapor in distillation.

Distillate 1: Be Proactive

Being responsible means being “Response-Able”. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents, friends, or others. Proactive people do not blame genetics, circumstances, and conditions for their behavior. 

Take initiative and change the things that you can control, like emotional reactions, and accept the ones you can’t change, like the weather.

Herewith are some strategies to become proactive:

Don’t worry about things that are beyond your control, just accept them as they are.

Change your behavior by changing your thoughts.

Learn from your mistakes: You can’t change the past, but you can learn from your failures.

Improve your self-image: The way you see yourself impacts what you feel, think, and do. 

Work on your language: The way you talk to yourself, and the expressions you use reflect your approach to life. Learn to use constructive language.

Keep the commitment to yourself and others: The best way to get things done is to set small goals and be persistent.

Distillate 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Imagine yourself at the end of your life, then look back on your life from that point. How would you like to be remembered? 

Now, back to the present:

Who do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? What is important to you?

To answer those questions in the most effective and efficient way, you need to create your personal mission statement:

First, Identify the source of your identity: The center of your Life should be centered on universally accepted principles like honesty, integrity, and dignity. Avoid unstable centers like money, job, and family because you can lose them at any time. Principle-centered doesn’t mean self-centered, because if you’re self-centered, then you’re driven by selfishness and only by what benefits you, and this is the worst center you can ever have. 

Second, identify your roles: Your social, professional, and individual roles (Spouse, Author, Friend… ).

Third, set goals for each role: start by identifying your destination (Who and what you want to be), then you will figure out how to achieve that goal.

Fourth, review and improve your mission statement: You should do that regularly in order to keep the balance between your personal, professional, and social life, and stay on track to achieve your goals.

Distillate 3: Put First Things First

Tasks can be categorized based on their importance and urgency. There are 4 categories:

Quadrant 1 “Urgent & Important”: Crises and problems. (Solve them asap)

Quadrant 2 “Not Urgent & Important”: Long-term goals. (Focus your time and energy)

Quadrant 3 “Urgent & Not Important”: Interruptions like some calls and emails. (Delegate these tasks)

Quadrant 4 “Not Urgent & Not Important”: Leisure and entertainment. (Avoid these Tasks)

To achieve long-term success, you have to prioritize tasks in Quadrant 2 (Long-term goals). Addressing those tasks early on will help you prevent new tasks from appearing in Quadrant 1 (Crisis and Problems). To do that you need to schedule your tasks. Weekly planning is the best and most effective way to stay on track. It is narrow enough to get tasks done promptly and broad enough to adjust your schedule if necessary.

Here is how to create weekly planning:

Identify your roles: Such as father, manager, neighbor…

Select goals for each role.

Schedule time to achieve goals.

Start your day by reviewing your day’s agenda, prioritizing tasks, and responding to unexpected events or activities.

Distillate 4: Think Win/Win

Most people are scripted in the Win-Lose mentality. We think that success must come at the expense of someone else’s, it means if I win, you lose. 

Win-Win is a mutually beneficial paradigm. This paradigm is based on prosperity, there is plenty out there for everyone. In order that I win, you don’t need to lose, we can both win, we prefer cooperation over competition. The Win-Win philosophy leads to better solutions than either side would have reached independently. 

The five dimensions of Win-Win:

First, the character:

Identify your values and principles, live by your values and principles, and have the courage to express your goals and expectations and the ability to recognize emotions in others. Keep the balance between courage and empathy.

Second, the relationships:

Build mutual trust by making deposits into the emotional bank account through respect, recognition, and courtesy.

Third, the agreements:

In order to have a clear mutual understanding up-front, you need to make the following elements very explicit: 

Desired Result: Goals and Deadlines.

Guidelines: The principles and policies.

Resources: Support needed to accomplish the results.

Accountability: The standards of performance and time of evaluation.

Consequences: Results of the evaluation.

Fourth, the systems:

Align your systems (Training, planning, communication, information, and compensation) with your goals and values.

Fifth, the process:

Understand the other person’s perspective, and recognize the biggest concerns and issues. Identify what results constitute a Win/Win, and determine new options to achieve those results.

Distillate 5: Seek First to understand, then to be understood

Phase 1: Seek first to understand 

People are usually listening at one of four levels:

   1. Ignoring the other person

   2. Pretending that they are listening 

   3. Selective Listening 

   4.  Attentive Listening

But there is a fifth Level:

5. Empathic Listening: You fully understand that person emotionally and intellectually.

How do you become an empathic listener?

You put the other person’s meaning into your own words, you pay attention to the other person’s feeling, and you authentically seek to understand the situation of the other person logically and psychologically.

Phase 2: Seek to be understood 

The key to making others understand you is by using the Greek rhetorical philosophy of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Ethos: It is the trust that you inspire, it is your integrity and credibility 

Pathos: You have to be aligned emotionally with the person you are communicating with.

Logos: The reasoning and the logic part of the communication.

Distillate 6: Synergize

To synergize is to collaborate. Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 1+1 = 3 or more.

To experience a real synergy you need first to master the previous 2 habits:

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Those habits build trust, which allows both parties to communicate with enormous personal security and openness.

There is a positive correlation between trust and cooperation:

If the trust level is low, the communication becomes defensive. (People adopt Win/Lose or Lose/Win framework)

If the trust level is moderate, the communication becomes respectful. (People are avoiding opening up enough to avoid confrontations)

If the trust level is high, the communication is synergetic (People feel comfortable and adopt the Win-Win framework)

Keep in mind that before achieving external synergy, you have to be synergetic within yourself.

Distillate 7: Sharpen the Saw

The habit of practicing self-renewal “Sharpen the Saw” is the habit that makes all the other habits possible. It improves your efficiency and effectiveness. 

Self-renewal is the key to staying disciplined and focused on a principle-centered path to creating an upward spiral of growth.

Self-renewal means renewing the four following dimensions of life:

First, the physical dimension: Eat healthily, exercise regularly and get enough rest and sleep. Be proactive and take care of your health before you will have to deal with health issues and problems.

Second, the spiritual dimension: This dimension is the core of your value system. It can take many forms, such as reading, meditating, and spending time in nature. 

Third, the mental dimension: Expand your mind and educate yourself by reading good literature and writing your thoughts, experiences, and insights. Plan what you want to achieve and start with the end in mind by using the power of visualization and imagination.

Fourth, the social/emotional dimension: The emotional dimension and the Social dimension are interconnected, and your emotional health is manifested in your relationship with yourself and others. To achieve a healthy emotional and social state, your life has to be in harmony with your true principles.

Self-renewal has to be a multidimensional balanced renewal. The four dimensions are highly interrelated, and any neglected dimension will impact the rest negatively. 

3. Infographic:

Big Picture & Key Ideas

We simplify complex ideas, complex subjects, and complex topics. We offer you key insights in an organized and engaging manner. We Make Learning Fun!

4. Flashcards:

Turn Knowledge into Action

Impolement what you have learned and close the Gap between Knowing and Doing “Knowing-Doing Gap”. Align your Goals with your Daily Actions.


Action 1: Change Your Perspectives

First, Initiate self-reflection to be aware of your actual paradigms, then shift your perspectives that determine how you see the world. Second, Break down different roles in your life and list three to five goals you want to achieve for each.


Action 2: Write your Personal Mission Statement

Define the center of your life that will be the source of your capacity to act, sense of balance, sense of worth, and sense of direction. Focus on who you want to be and what you want to do based on your values and principles.


Action 3: Define what scares you

Critical feedback after a presentation? Being on Camera? Public speaking? Write down the worst-case scenario for your biggest fear, then visualize how you'll handle this situation. Write down exactly how you'll handle it.


Action 4: Improve your social intelligence

Approach every conversation, negotiation, or social interaction with a win-win mindset. Listen empathically. Build trust and connection with the other person, and have a high level of courage and consideration.


Action 5: Become an excellent Team-player

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 1 +1 = 3 or more. The secret of Collaboration is to value mental and emotional differences. Start with your internal synergy. Improve your analytical as well as your creative side.


Action 6: Rejuvenate Yourself

Take care of your mental health. Acquire new knowledge. Avoid social media content that impacts you negatively. Invest in good positive relationships. Eat healthy Foods, Exercise regularly, and spend more time in nature.

5. Beyond the Book:

Take it to the Next Level

Expand beyond the Book, enhance your Comprehension, and gain Cutting-Edge Insights and Timeless Wisdom based on Thoughtful Reading, Deep Analysis, and Life Experiences.

Every Small Bit Matters:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking and he saw that along with the morning tide came hundreds of starfish, and when the tide receded, they were left behind.

Far in the Distance, the old man noticed a boy pausing every so often, picking up something from the sand and gently throwing it into the ocean. 

As the Boy grew closer, the old man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, unless I throw them back into the water, they will die because of the heat.” 

The old man has a different point of view, but he didn’t want to sound rude. “But there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t save all of them. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the old man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” 

Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

We are often stuck in the idea that changes in our life need to be huge. In fact, small behavior changes maintained over time can lead to great outcomes and life-changing results. The Secret to become really highly effective is to transform your life goals into small daily habits. No need to be in hurry, don’t try to change too much at once because impatience leads often to failure and frustration. Try a baby step strategy. Chunk your goals into small manageable pieces. Create an action plan. Make one right decision after another, build on small victories. A small step a day is easy to achieve, and it is very motivating to move on because you can see tangible and measurable progress. 

Keep Your Momentum Going:

So you’ve learned how to achieve a big goal by breaking it into smaller ones. Now, the question is, how would you maintain that daily habit? How can you stay motivated?

Goals, in themselves, are insufficient for enabling change, what more important is momentum. Momentum is about every activity that involves motion. If an object does not move then it has no momentum. Momentum is essentially the force created by a moving object. In other words, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. It’s a simple idea, but a very powerful one. With momentum, as time goes by, the impetus toward getting things done increases. Momentum is the secret ingredient behind success.

To keep momentum rolling, you have to remind yourself often what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Visualize your project completed and take a look how wonderful your final achievement will look like. This feeling will motivate you and will fuel your momentum. 

Create a daily routine. Schedule some time every day where you will be dedicated to what it is that you want to achieve.

Take time to review each small goal periodically. Tweak it as needed to ensure it fits with your strategic goal, vision, and mission. 

Herewith how the comedian Jerry Seinfeld explains how he uses a calendar system to create momentum: 

In order to become a great comedian, Jerry Seinfeld has got to have better jokes. The only way to have better jokes is to keep writing them. Jerry made a deal with himself, he decided that he wanted to write new material each day. In order to track his goal, he bought himself a calendar, placed it on his wall. For everyday that he wrote, he would mark the calendar day with a red “X.” As he wrote consistently everyday, soon the red Xs turned into a chain that grew longer each day. The goal was to not break the chain of X’s because each “X” on his calendar represented a step towards his Future self. Step-by-step, day by day something in his mind started to shift, and he started creating momentum. 

It is a very simple concept but also a very effective method for building habits and helping you work each day on your big goal. All you have to do to keep your momentum going is: “Don’t break the Chain”. 

Embrace Obstacles:

We all get discouraged for a period of time. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. You know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it. To avoid stasis and overcome fear-based resistance, you have to remind yourself of that bigger thing, that goal you want to achieve, and that great dream you want to come true. This is the key to find your way back to forward momentum.

Every Hindrance you face has a purpose. Obstacles exist to test you and stretch you beyond limits. The reason these Impediments prevent us from moving forward comes down to how we choose to interpret events and circumstances. Some see stumbling blocks as threats, while others see them as an opportunity to grow. Distance yourself from the drama, step back from the chaos, and see the obstacle from a greater perspective. Think of alternatives that might work. Break down what you need to do to overcome the obstacle into small steps. Focus on one step at a time. Remain optimistic and avoid negativity in all its forms.

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” 

— Orison Swett Marden

Celebrate Small Victories:

For most of us, small victories go unnoticed. We’ve been conditioned to celebrate big achievements and milestones. 

Big goals don’t happen overnight, it takes many small steps along the way to reach the milestone. 

“The great victory, which appears so simple today, was the result of a series of small victories that went unnoticed.”

— Paulo Coelho

Celebrating small wins boosts your sense of confidence and forces you to concentrate on the positive rather than the negative. It is an incredible approach to tracking incremental achievements and working toward much larger goals. It reminds you that a good, focused, goal-setting process works.

Those little wins, no matter how small, are there to keep you motivated in the long term and inspire you to set goals in all areas of your work as well.

Every small win gives your brain a shot of dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical in your brain that reinforces the learning experience.

Allowing yourself to be rewarded will develop an addiction to progress. This will make your brain want to come back for more and will give you the strength to face challenges in your life. 

When you start celebrating small wins, you eventually start realizing that you are getting closer to your goal with each step. After each small victory celebration, you are telling your brain that this activity is enjoyable, let’s do more of it. That is exactly what will keep you motivated to want to carry on to the next steps.  

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