The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Takeaways and Key Points Summary

Our lives are the products of the small choices we make everyday, so having helpful habits is essential to living a successful life. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a no-nonsense guide that teaches the seven habits successful people use in business and in life. Readers will learn how to accept and manage change so they are better equipped to take advantage of new opportunities they create.

Key Takeaways from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey

Takeaway #1 Locate Your Current Position

How often have you wished that you had a map for navigating life? By paying attention to your paradigms (a distinct set of behaviours or thought patterns – How you react to things) you can identify where you are in your life, and which turnings you need to make to get to your end destination of being a highly effective person. When your paradigms are recognized, monitored, and then shifted, lasting changes are made in your character that have previously been holding you back. Sometimes understanding why a person is reacting a certain way is enough to shift your own thoughts and response for the better but other times more inner work is needed so that you stop reacting automatically I.e. lashing out at a loved one, and instead choose to proactively influence the situation by acting with love, compassion, and understanding instead of anger. Reactive people tend to worry about things they cannot change where as proactive people choose to work on only the things that they can do something about. If you realise you're reactive, set yourself a challenge to focus on solutions instead of worrying or accusing others when problems and challenges arise.

Takeaway #2 Plan and Visualize

You have to start with the end in mind. You wouldn't jump into your car with the expectation of arriving at a new location at a certain time without knowing how long the journey should take you or which route to take but in life, we often start things without having any plan and often, with no clear end destination in mind.

If you think about your mortality you will realize what's important to you and what is not. What do you want to achieve with your life? What do you want to be remembered for? You can turn these thoughts into a mission statement for your life to give you security in that you have a plan for what you want and where you're heading in life. Write down your projects and goals, write down the results you desire and the steps you need to take to get there.

Prioritize your goal or mission so that it doesn't get buried under everyday hassles. You can create a priorities list by categorizing tasks according to importance and urgency. Create a 2x2 matrix with 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 is for the urgent tasks that must be dealt with right away. Quadrant 2 is for tasks that are important but not urgent. Quadrant 3 is for tasks that are urgent but not important such as an email that pings into your inbox that needs a reply whilst you're working on something else. Quadrant 4 are all the tasks that are neither urgent nor important, the things that are a waste of time. Quadrant 2 is the area that you need to work on – It should be the list of things that are going to greatly improve your life. You'll probably find that it's this area that you currently neglect most of all whether putting things off for another time or getting distracted by things from quadrants 3 and 4.

Takeaway #3 Think Positive and Treat People with Respect.

You need to think of situations as being win-win not win-lose. You don't need to compete or fight with others to get your slice of the pie, think of there always being enough to go around and to work to help others rather than just yourself. Know that by operating from a win-lose perspective often times you both lose with someone else getting the pie. Consider what the other person would be happy with whilst also considering your own happiness and see where a solution can be found. Be sure to listen to the other person properly, questioning so that you understand fully before butting in and telling them what you want, what you think, and what you feel.



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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Chapters

Chapter One - Inside-Out
Chapter Two - The 7 Habits- An Overview
Chapter Three - Habit 1 - Be Proactive
Chapter Four - Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind
Chapter Five - Habit 3 - Put First Things First
Chapter Six - Habit 4 - Think Win/Win
Chapter Seven - Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Chapter Eight - Habit 6 - Synergize
Chapter Nine - Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw


Best Quotes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“For those filled with regret, perhaps the most needful exercise of proactivity is to realize that past mistakes are also out there in the Circle of Concern. We can’t recall them, we can’t undo them, we can’t control the consequences that came as a result.”

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” Personal responsibility, or proactivity, is fundamental to the first creation. Returning to the computer metaphor, Habit 1 says, “You are the programmer.” Habit 2, then, says, “Write the program.”

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” he observed. “They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”

“Show me someone who is humble enough to accept and take responsibility for his or her circumstances and courageous enough to take whatever initiative is necessary to creatively work his or her way through or around these challenges, and I'll show you the supreme power of choice.”

“as Marilyn Ferguson observed, “No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.”

“I have seen the consequences of attempting to shortcut this natural process of growth often in the business world, where executives attempt to “buy” a new culture of improved productivity, quality, morale, and customer service with strong speeches, smile training, and external interventions, or through mergers, acquisitions, and friendly or unfriendly takeovers. But they ignore the low-trust climate produced by such manipulations. When these methods don’t work, they look for other Personality Ethic techniques that will—all the time ignoring and violating the natural principles and processes on which a high-trust culture is based.”

“Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently.”

― Gary Stephen R. Covey - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change


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Editor and Founder

Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating society to its abundance potential.

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