Covey’s Seven Habits

Covey’s Seven Habits
Stephen R Covey published his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People” in the late 1980’s. He discovered over years of reading
and studying success that certain underlying themes seemed to
recur. These weren’t superficial behavioural “how to’s”, but went
deeper, relating more to one’s ethics or way of life. The result was
his seven habits, equally applicable to your personal, social or
business life. Unlike many other approaches, the seven habits
work best if they’re adopted in their entirety. You can’t pick and choose which
ones to apply, nor are they situational (“if this situation occurs, follow this
The first three habits relate to our own internal or personal philosophy

Be Proactive Be aware of yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, blind
spots, motivations – and be proactive in finding out as much
as you can about yourself. Then be proactive in applying
that knowledge to your relations with others.
Begin with
the End in
In summary, create and live by a personal mission
statement. This may lead onto more specific goals and
objectives, but the idea is that you try to live as the sort of
person you’d like to be remembered for when you’ve
passed on.
Put First
Things First
Define what it is that really matters in your life, then spend
your time on those important things. Rather than spreading
our time thinly across too many activities, concentrate on
doing a few things well.

The next three habits relate to our interaction with our environment

Not an original phrase, but in all your dealings with others,
aim for each little negotiation to provide success (a win) for
both sides.


Seek First to
then be
Put another way, “God gave us two ears and one mouth,
and they should be used in that proportion.” In your
communications, be sure you know the other person’s point
of view before you start expounding your own ideas.
Synergize Look for ways to take your ideas and other people’s ideas
and build on them together, on the basis that the outcome
will be something greater than the sum of the inputs.

The seventh habit that makes all the other six last is Sharpening the Saw. This
powerful idea can really only be described by Covey’s word-picture:
Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to
saw down a tree.
“What are you doing?” you ask.
“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”
“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”
“Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?”
you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too
busy sawing!”
Sharpening the saw is about renewing yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually
and emotionally.
Taken from
Covey, S. ( 1989 ).
7 Habits of Highly Successful People. London. Simon and