The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By: Stephen Covey

Yes, it sounds gimmicky. But there's a reason there's 25 million copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in circulation—the book is chock-full of profound, actionable wisdom. Approaching from an academic angle, Stephen Covey focused his studies on success literature of the past 200 years, looking for parallels and common practices, and wrote this book about his discoveries.

I gained numerous conceptual understandings from this book—how our paradigms create our “reality,” how to step back and examine more than the problem but my interpretation of it, how to set priorities and understand why to follow them.

Most importantly, Covey illuminates the space we have between stimulus and response—a space where we have the freedom to choose our response—in which lies the freedom to control our own fate. Should we consciously predetermine our reaction to an certain action, we can override our conditioned or automatic response with a response of our own. This, I believe, has life-changing, fate-thwarting power, and just this concept alone makes The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People worth reading. And, of course, acting upon.

My 10 Favorite Index Cards:

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, or paradigms.
The way we see the problem is the problem.
Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.
He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.
The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.
‘Begin with the end in mind’ is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.
We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, or circumstances, or of past habits.
This is the true joy in life—that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. That being a force or nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for it’s own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations.
— George Bernard Shaw
The lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.
— Ezra Taft Benson
My contemplation of life and human nature in that secluded place had taught me that he who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality, and will never, therefore, make any progress.
— Anwar Sadat

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