In one of the national bestsellers of the last century, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that was first published in 1989, Stephen R. Covey talks about the ways to improve personal effectiveness. It is based on the idea of the character ethic that should be aligned with individual principles, goals, and past or envisioned achievements. However, as the time changes, some ideas mentioned by Covey require deeper thoughts based on the emerging principles of self-development and certain criticism.
The initial part of the book is rather trustworthy, since it clearly reflects the aspect of ‘greatness’, which the author poses as a perfect personal experience. Furthermore, the ‘seeing and being’ supports the aforementioned idea as a starting point towards self-consciousness based on the initial experiences and the use of personal tone where appropriate. However, the basic example of using a case of two battleships as a link to ‘objective reality’ seems controversial, since, in fact, the ‘lighthouse’ principle mentioned further is not sufficient. It is true that people make choices, while it is unclear whether the ‘mental maps’ are driven by life or work-related decisions.
Further chapters are devoted to Covey’s thinking about the ways of how people represent themselves in a changing business environment, where the skills and experience matter. The first habit mentioned by Covey talks about the proactivity, which basically tells the individual to separate oneself from the vision of others and become critical of their wants and beliefs. The second suggested habit is more constructive, since it leads to a more prospective thinking of why any idea should have space in one’s mind and eventually project new ways of decision making. It is obvious that some family-related issues are mentioned there, while the background idea is about the way how a person should think under a condition of external pressure. These chapters are best prioritized as the starting point of self-development strategy, while further are described as a mutual intervention into the development of the ‘new’, stochastic habits explained by Covey.
The personalization aspect voiced by Covey starts from the third chapter, where he argues the importance of thinking about the role of the personal life in making global sales and marketing careers. In fact, he is absolutely clear about the idea of how we tend to market ourselves to others depending on the project field we work on. In this way, the third habit of putting the most important things first as a driving principle of personal management, as well as using quadrants per task for priority setting is reasonable for life planning. As Covey describes the third habit, he specifies the importance of saying no, which could be complex under a condition of pressuring deadlines.
Further, the author goes into the public victory topic and introduces the fourth habit of a win-win thinking, where the principles of interpersonal leadership are manifested. Basically, the idea of this habit is described as an opportunity to communicate with others aiming to find a conflict resolution that satisfies both parties. The fifth habit is a direct outcome of the win-win strategy, which is described by Covey as an idea to understand prior to being understood based on the problem specification and resonance in idea exchange. The sixth habit is defined as synergy, which mostly relates to creative cooperation among individuals and transcends the idea of sharing the value differences that appear in the common life situations. Finally, the seventh habit is about shaping oneself through the physical, spiritual, mental, and social dimensions acquired through experiential thinking, which is longitudinal and is acquired as individual ages and takes more responsibilities in life.
Based on the personal experience, the best habit I should capitalize on is proactivity in asking, doing, and researching as a part of my daily job and communicating with others. By asking, I seek for the opportunity to gain additional knowledge about unfamiliar subject or problem statement, which helps to develop the appropriate direction of thinking and problem resolution. Doing is the next step, which is based on the information gathered from the primary sources and supports the need of doing things fast and on time, while certainly requires corrections and additional inputs. Researching is another aspect of this habit, since I pursue the importance of gaining new knowledge through reading and web browsing as a source of dynamically changing information. However, my proactivity is yet to be developed, since it requires more communication with field-based professionals and experts after college graduation.
The habit of a win-win thinking remains the most challenging, since, from my perspective, it is a paradigm that becomes clearer as people progress in their careers and make some notable mistakes to be learned on. A conventional wisdom tells that you learn as you age, while in fact it is hard to relate with real-life situations and essential communication mediums with others. Therefore, I cannot completely agree with the author on the point of spiritual thinking for a win-win decision, since at some point of a time one might take a rapid but illogical decision that would alter the flow of things dramatically.
Since the win-win habit from the book was previously identified as a personal weakness, I believe it is the one that should be considered as the highest impact on personal career. Stephen Covey provided numerous examples of how typical interviews result into a conflict or problem resolution, which should be considered as a guidance towards the self-development strategy and examples of leveraging weaknesses against strengths. It is also the most interesting part of the book, which was the most impressive by the following citation:
“The social and the emotional dimensions of our lives are tied together because our emotional life is primarily, but not exclusively, developed out of and manifested in our relationships with others” (Covey, 2015, p. 33).
Overall, the book is an absolutely comprehensive guide on self-development strategies for a reader that seeks for establishing both positive and productive relationships with current and future job employers. However, it is noteworthy that the author is somewhat biased on providing personal examples that might not be efficient in current era and uncertainty. The common lifestyle interviews are mostly imagined, while there is a lack of primary data to be considered for the final decision making and following the standards of business communication. Furthermore, the approach to distinguish habits of mind is seen as developed rather than acquired, which might be irrelevant to some professionals such as IT specialists. Therefore, the book should be considered as a guidance to think about individual habits rather than a strict strategy to implement those in a real-life scenario.
Covey, S. R. (2015). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. Miami, FL: Mango Media.