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1. Read the complete book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” written by Steven Covey 2.Write a 2-page summary on what you believe to be your top 3 strengths and top 3 improvement opportunities based on the book’s concepts. 3. Interview at least three persons very close to you asking them what they think your top 2-3 strengths and improvement opportunities are.Write a one-page summary of how other’s perceptions compare to your own self-perception highlighting the differences. 4. Create a one-page short action plan of 2-3 actions you can take to improve the alignment of your habits with your life objectives.

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Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey has written a remarkable book about the human condition, so
elegantly written, so understanding of our embedded concerns, so useful for
our organization and personal lives, that it’s going to be my gift to everyone I
–Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader
I’ve never known any teacher or mentor on improving personal effectiveness
to generate such an overwhelmingly positive reaction…. This book captures
beautifully Stephen’s philosophy of principles. I think anyone reading it will
quickly understand the enormous reaction I and others have had to Dr.
Covey’s teachings.
–John Pepper, President, Procter and Gamble
Stephen Covey is an American Socrates, opening your mind to the
‘permanent things’ –values, family, relationships, communicating.
–Brian Tracy, author of Psychology of Achievement
Stephen R. Covey’s book teaches with power, conviction, and feeling. Both
the content and the methodology of these principles form a solid foundation
for effective communication. As an educator, I think this book to be a
significant addition to my library.
–William Rolfe Kerr, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education
Few students of management and organization –and people –have thought as
long and hard about first principles as Stephen Covey. In , he offers us an
opportunity, not a how-to guide. The opportunity is to explore ourselves and
our impact on others, and to do so by taking advantage of his profound
insights. It is a wonderful book that could change your life.
–Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence
The ethical basis for human relations in this book defines a way of life, not
just a methodology for succeeding at business. That it works is apparent.
–Bruce L. Christensen, President, Public Broadcasting Service
At a time when American organizations desperately need to energize people
and produce leaders at all levels, Covey provides an empowering philosophy
for life that is also the best guarantee of success in business…a perfect blend
of wisdom, compassion, and practical experience.
–Rosabeth Moss Kanter, editor of the Harvard Business Review and author
of When Giants Learn to Dance I have learned so much from Stephen Covey
over the years that every time I sit down to write, I’m worried about
subconscious plagiarism! Seven Habits is not pop psychology or trendy selfhelp. It is solid wisdom and sound principles.
–Richard M. Eyre, author of Life Balance and Teaching Children Values We
could do well to make the reading and use of this book a requirement for
anyone at any level of public service. It would be far more effective than any
legislation regarding ethical conduct.
–Senator Jake Garn, first senator in space
When Stephen Covey talks, executives listen.
–Dun’s Business Month
Stephen Covey’s inspirational book will undoubtedly be the psychology
handbook of the ’90s. The principles discussed are universal and can be
applied to every aspect of life. These principles, however, are like an opera.
They cannot simply be performed, they must be rehearsed!
–Ariel Bybee, mezzo-soprano, Metropolitan Opera
I found this book stimulating and thought-provoking. In fact, I keep referring
to it.
–Richard M. DeVos, President, Amway
Winning is a habit. So is losing. Twenty-five years of experience, thought,
and research have convinced Covey that seven habits distinguish the happy,
healthy, successful from those who fail or who must sacrifice meaning and
happiness for success in the narrow sense.
–Ron Zemke, coauthor of The Service Edge and Service America
Stephen R. Covey is a marvelous human being. He writes insightfully and he
cares about people. The equivalent of an entire library of success literature is
found in this one volume. The principles he teaches in have made a real
difference in my life.
–Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., author of The One-Minute Manager
The Seven Habits are keys to success for people in all walks of life. It is very
–Edward A. Brennan, Chairman, President and CEO, Sears, Roebuck and
Company Covey validates the durable truths as they apply to family,
business, and society in general, sparing us the psycho-babble that pollutes so
much of current literature on human relations. His book is not a photograph,
but a process, and should be treated as such. He is neither an optimist nor a
pessimist, but a possibilist, who believes that we and we alone can open the
door to change within ourselves. There are many more than seven good
reasons to read this book.
–Steve Labunski, Executive Director, International Radio and Television
Society Knowledge is the quickest and safest path to success in any area of
life. Stephen Covey has encapsulated the strategies used by all those who are
highly effective. Success can be learned and this book is a highly effective
way to learn it.
–Charles Givens, President, Charles J. Givens Organization, Inc., author of
Wealth Without Risk I know of no one who has contributed more to helping
leaders in our society than Stephen R. Covey…. There is no literate person in
our society who would not benefit by reading this book and applying its
–Senator Orrin G. Hatch
One of the greatest habits you can develop is to learn and internalize the
wisdom of Stephen Covey. He lives what he says and this book can help you
live, permanently, in the “Winner’s Circle.”
–Dr. Denis Waitley, author of The Psychology of Winning
It’s powerful reading. His principles of vision, leadership, and human
relations make it a practical teaching tool for business leaders today. I highly
recommend it.
–Nolan Archibald, President and CEO, Black and Decker
suggests a discipline for our personal dealings with people which would be
undoubtedly valuable if people stopped to think about it.
–James C. Fletcher, Director, NASA
A wonderful contribution. Dr. Covey has synthesized the habits of our
highest achievers and presented them in a powerful, easy-to-use program. We
now have a blueprint for opening the American mind.
–Charles Garfield, author of Peak Performer
Seven Habits is an exceptional book. It does a better job of inspiring a person
to integrate the different responsibilities in one’s life –personal, family, and
professional –than any other book I have read.
–Paul H. Thompson, Dean, Marriott School of Management, BYU and
author of Novation Goodbye, Dale Carnegie. Stephen Covey has had a
profound influence on my life. His principles are powerful. They work. Buy
this book. Read, it, and as you live the principles your life will be enriched.
–Robert G. Allen, author of Creating Wealth and Nothing Down
In the ’90s America needs to unlock the door to increased productivity both
on a business and personal basis. The best way to accomplish this goal is
through enhancing the human resource. Dr. Covey’s Seven Habits provides
the guidelines for this to happen. These principles make great sense and are
right on target for the time.
–F.G. “Buck” Rodgers, author of The IBM Way
This book is filled with practical wisdom for people who want to take control
of their lives, their business and their careers. Each time I read a section again
I get new insights, which suggests the messages are fundamental and deep.
–Gifford Pinchot III, author of Intrapreneuring
Most of my learning has come from modeling after other people and what
they do. Steve’s book helps energize this modeling process through highly
effective research and examples.
–Fran Tarkenton, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback
Not only does the “character ethic” win hands down every time over the
“personality ethic” in the battle of effectiveness, it also will bring greater
fulfillment and joy to individuals seeking meaning in their personal and
professional lives.
–Larry Wilson, author of Changing the Game: The New Way to Sell
Fundamentals are the key to success. Stephen Covey is a master of them. Buy
this book, but most importantly, use it!
–Anthony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power
This book contains the kind of penetrating truth about human nature that is
usually found only in fiction. At the end, you will feel not only that you know
Covey, but also that he knows you
–Orson Scott Card, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards
Stephen Covey adds great value to any individual or organization, not just
through his words. His vision and integrity –his personal example –move
people beyond mere success.
–Tom F. Crum, cofounder, The Windstar Foundation, and author of The
Magic of Conflict With all the responsibilities and demands of time, travel,
work, and families placed upon us in today’s competitive world, it’s a big plus
to have Stephen Covey’s to refer to.
–Marie Osmond
In , Stephen Covey serves up a seven-course meal on how to take control of
one’s life and become the complete, fulfilling person one envisions. It is a
satisfying, energetic, step-by-step book that is applicable for personal and
business progress.
–Roger Staubach, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback
The conclusions he draws in this book underscore the need to restore the
character ethic in our society. This work is a valuable addition to the
literature of self-help.
–W. Clement Stone, founder, Success Magazine
Stephen Covey’s deliberate integration of life and principles leads to squaring
inner thought and outward behavior, resulting in personal as well as public
–Gregory J. Newell, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
Part One
Paradigms and Principles
There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right
–David Starr Jordan
In more than 25 years of working with people in business, university, and
marriage and family settings, I have come in contact with many individuals
who have achieved an incredible degree of outward success, but have found
themselves struggling with an inner hunger, a deep need for personal
congruency and effectiveness and for healthy, growing relationships with
other people. I suspect some of the problems they have shared with me may
be familiar to you. I’ve set and met my career goals and I’m having
tremendous professional success. But it’s cost me my personal and family
life. I don’t know my wife and children anymore. I’m not even sure I know
myself and what’s really important to me. I’ve had to ask myself –is it worth
I’ve started a new diet –for the fifth time this year. I know I’m overweight,
and I really want to change. I read all the new information, I set goals, I get
myself all psyched up with a positive mental attitude and tell myself I can do
it. But I don’t. After a few weeks, I fizzle. I just can’t seem to keep a promise
I make to myself.
I’ve taken course after course on effective management training. I expect a lot
out of my employees and I work hard to be friendly toward them and to treat
them right. But I don’t feel any loyalty from them. I think if I were home sick
for a day, they’d spend most of their time gabbing at the water fountain. Why
can’t I train them to be independent and responsible –or find employees who
can be?
My teenage son is rebellious and on drugs. No matter what I try, he won’t
listen to me. What can I do?
There’s so much to do. And there’s never enough time. I feel pressured and
hassled all day, every day, seven days a week. I’ve attended time management
seminars and I’ve tried half a dozen different planning systems. They’ve
helped some, but I still don’t feel I’m living the happy, productive, peaceful
life I want to live.
I want to teach my children the value of work. But to get them to do
anything, I have to supervise every move; and put up with complaining every
step of the way. It’s so much easier to do it myself. Why can’t children do
their work cheerfully and without being reminded?
I’m busy –really busy. But sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing will make a
difference in the long run. I’d really like to think there was meaning in my
life, that somehow things were different because I was here.
I see my friends or relatives achieve some degree of success or receive some
recognition, and I smile and congratulate them enthusiastically. But inside,
I’m eating my heart out. Why do I feel this way?
I have a forceful personality. I know, in almost any interaction, I can control
the outcome. Most of the time, I can even do it by influencing others to come
up with the solution I want. I think through each situation and I really feel the
ideas I come up with are usually the best for everyone. But I feel uneasy. I
always wonder what other people really think of me and my ideas. My
marriage has gone flat. We don’t fight or anything; we just don’t love each
other anymore. We’ve gone to counseling; we’ve tried a number of things, but
we just can’t seem to rekindle the feeling
we used to have.
These are deep problems, painful problems –problems that quick fix
approaches can’t solve. A few years ago, my wife Sandra and I were
struggling with this kind of concern. One of our sons was having a very
difficult time in school. He was doing poorly academically; he didn’t even
know how to follow the instructions on the tests, let alone do well in them.
Socially he was immature, often embarrassing those closest to him.
Athletically, he was small, skinny, and uncoordinated –swinging his baseball
bat, for example, almost before the ball was even pitched. Others would
laugh at him. Sandra and I were consumed with a desire to help him. We felt
that if “success” were important in any area of life, it was supremely
important in our role as parents. So we worked on our attitudes and behavior
toward him and we tried to work on his. We attempted to psyche him up
using positive mental attitude techniques. “Come on, son! You can do it! We
know you can. Put your hands a little higher on the bat and keep your eye on
the ball. Don’t swing till it gets close to you.” And if he did a little better, we
would go to great lengths to reinforce him. “That’s good, son, keep it up.”
When others laughed, we reprimanded them. “Leave him alone. Get off his
back. He’s just learning.” And our son would cry and insist that he’d never be
any good and that he didn’t like baseball anyway.
Nothing we did seemed to help, and we were really worried. We could see
the effect this was having on his self-esteem. We tried to be encouraging and
helpful and positive, but after repeated failure, we finally drew back and tried
to look at the situation on a different level. At this time in my professional
role I was involved in leadership development work with various clients
throughout the country. In that capacity I was preparing bimonthly programs
on the subject of communication and perception for IBM’s Executive
Development Program participants. As I researched and prepared these
presentations, I became particularly interested in how perceptions are formed,
how they behave. This led me to a study of expectancy theory and selffulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how
deeply imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the
lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that
the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world. As Sandra and I talked
about the concepts I was teaching at IBM and about our own situation, we
began to realize that what we were doing to help our son was not in harmony
with the way we really saw him. When we honestly examined our deepest
feelings, we realized that our perception was that he was basically
inadequate, somehow “behind.” No matter how much we worked on our
attitude and behavior, our efforts were ineffective because, despite our
actions and our words, what we really communicated to him was, “You aren’t
capable. You have to be protected.” We began to realize that if we wanted to
change the situation, we first had to change ourselves. And to change
ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions. The
Personality and Character Ethics
At the same time, in addition to my research on perception, I was also deeply
immersed in an in-depth study of the success literature published in the
United States since 1776. I was reading or scanning literally hundreds of
books, articles, and essays in fields such as self-improvement, popular
psychology, and self-help. At my fingertips was the sum and substance of
what a free and democratic people considered to be the keys to successful
As my study took me back through 200 years of writing about success, I
noticed a startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature. Because
of our own pain, and because of similar pain I had seen in the lives and
relationships of many people I had worked with through the years, I began to
more and more that much of the success literature of the past 50 years was
superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and
quick fixes –with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems
and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily –but left the
underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and
again. In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so
focused on what could be called the character ethic as the foundation of
success –things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice,
patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule. Benjamin
Franklin’s autobiography is representative of that literature. It is, basically,
the story of one man’s effort to integrate certain principles and habits deep
within his nature.
The character ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living,
and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as
they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the
character ethic to what we might call the personality ethic. Success became
more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors,
skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction. This
personality ethic essentially took two paths: one was human and public
relations techniques, and the other was positive mental attitude (PMA). Some
of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims
such as “Your attitude determines your altitude,” “Smiling wins more friends
than frowning,” and “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it
can achieve. Other parts of the personality approach were clearly
manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging people to use techniques to get
other people to like them, or to fake interest in the hobbies of others to get out
of them what they wanted, or to use the “power look,” or to intimidate their
way through life. Some of this literature acknowledged character as an
ingredient of success, but tended to compartmentalize it rather than recognize
it as foundational and catalytic. Reference to the character ethic became
mostly lip service; the basic thrust was quick-fix influence techniques, power
strategies, communication skills, and positive attitudes.
This personality ethic, I began to realize, was the subconscious source of the
solutions Sandra and I were attempting to use with our son. As I thought
more deeply about the difference between the personality and character
ethics, I realized that Sandra and I had been getting social mileage out of our
children’s good behavior, and, in our eyes, this son simply didn’t measure up.
Our image of ourselves, and our role as good, caring parents was even deeper
than our image of our son and perhaps influenced it. There was a lot more
wrapped up in the way we were seeing and handling the problem than our
concern for our son’s welfare.
As Sandra and I talked, we became painfully aware of the powerful influence
of our character and motives and of our perception of him. We knew that
social comparison motives were out of harmony with our deeper values and
could lead to conditional …
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