The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The Book in a Few Sentences

The Seven Habits represent a holistic, integrated approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness, and that, more than in the individual habits themselves, the real key lies in the relationship among them and in how they are sequenced.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary

This is my book summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. My summary and notes include the key lessons and most important insights from the book.

Part One: Paradigms and Principles


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.

The Personality and Character Ethic

  • 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, a public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the process 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).

Primary and Secondary Greatness

  • If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other—while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity—then, in the long run, I cannot be successful.
  • …if you don't pay the price day in and day out, you never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind.
  • You always reap what you so; there is no shortcut.
  • If there isn't deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success.
  • In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.

The Power of a Paradigm

  • But before we can really understand these Seven Habits, we need to understand our own “paradigms” and how to make a “paradigm shift.”
  • The word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean hey model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference.
  • In the more general sense, it's the way we “see” the world—not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.
  • You might work on your behavior—you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed. But your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.
  • You might work on your attitude—you can think more positively. You still wouldn't get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn't care. Your attitude would be so positive, you’d be happy wherever you were.
  • The point is, you'd still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map.
  • Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values.
  • The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.
  • We simply cannot maintain wholeness if we talk and walk differently than we see.
  • 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 have in effect described ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.

The Power of A Paradigm Shift

  • We can only achieve quantum improvements in our lives as we quit hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior and get to work on the root, the paradigms from which our attitudes and behaviors flow.

The Principle-Centered Paradigm

  • The Character Ethic is based on the fundamental idea there are principles that govern human effectiveness—natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.
  • These principles are a part of most every major during religion, as well as enduring social philosophies and ethical systems. They are self-evident and can easily be validated by any individual.
  • …principles are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application. Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct principles, we value truth—a knowledge of things as they are.

Principles of Growth and Change

  • The glitter of the Personality Ethic, the massive appeal, is that there is some quick and easy way to achieve quality of life—personal effectiveness in rich, deep relationships with other people—without going through the natural process of work and growth that makes it possible.
  • Yet I believe that most of us know the truth of what we really are inside; and I think many of those we live with and work with do as well.

The Way We See The Problem Is The Problem

  • The more people are into quick fix and focus on the acute problems and pain, the more that very approach contributes to the underlying chronic condition.

A New Level of Thinking

  • “Inside-out” means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self—with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.
  • And in all of my experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.
  • What I have seen results from the outside-in paradigm is unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circumstances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation.

The Seven Habits - An Overview

  • Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits.
  • Habits can be learned and unlearned.
  • Breaking deeply embedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violate basic principles human effectiveness involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives.

“Habits” Defined

  • For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.
  • Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.
  • Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.

The Maturity Continuum

  • They [seven habits] move progressively on a Maturity Continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence.
  • As we continue to grow and mature, we become increasingly aware that all of nature is interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs nature, including society.
  • Interdependence is the paradigm of we—we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.
  • Most of the self-improvement material puts independence on a pedestal, as though communication, teamwork, and corporation or lesser values.
  • But much of our current emphasis on independence is reaction to dependence—to having others control us, define us, use us, and manipulate us.

Effectiveness Defined

  • If you adopt hey pattern of life that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the goose, you will soon be without the asset that produces golden eggs. On Another hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward the golden eggs, you soon won't have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose.

Three Kinds of Assets

  • Basically, there are three kinds of assets: physical, financial, and human.
  • Our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn.

What You Can Expect

  • First, your growth will be evolutionary, the net effect will be revolutionary.
  • The net effect of opening the “gate of change” to the first three habits— the habits of Private Victory—will be significantly increased self-confidence.
  • You will come to know yourself in a deeper, more meaningful way—your nature, your deepest values and your unique contribution capacity. As you live your values, your sense of identity, integrity, control, and inner-directedness will infuse you with both exhilaration and peace.
  • You'll no longer build your emotional life on other people's weaknesses. In addition, you'll find it easier and more desirable to change because there is something—some core deep within—that is essentially changeless.
  • Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.

Part Two: Private Victory

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Principles of Personal Vision

  • We are not our feelings. We are not our moods. We are not even our thoughts.
  • Self – awareness enables us to stand apart and examine even the way we “see” ourselves—our self–paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. It affects not only our attitudes and behaviors, but also how we see other people. It becomes our map of the basic nature of mankind.
  • In fact, until we take how we see ourselves (and how we see others) into account, we will be unable to understand how others see and feel about themselves and their world. Unaware, we will project our intentions on their behavior and call ourselves objective.

The Social Mirror

  • There are actually three social maps—three theories of determinism widely accepted, independently or in combination, to explain the nature of man.
  • Genetic determinism basically says your grandparents did it to you. Psychic determinism basically says your parents did it to you. Environmental determinism basically says your boss is doing it to you—or your spouse, or that bratty teenager, or your economic situation, or national policies.
  • The basic idea is that we are conditioned to respond in a particular way to a particular stimulus.

Between Stimulus and Response

  • But because of our unique human endowments, we can write new programs for ourselves totally apart from our instincts and training.
  • Between stimulus and response is our greatest power—the freedom to choose.

“Proactivity” Defined

  • It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values period
  • Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.
  • Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.
  • It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
  • Victor Frankl suggests that there are three central values in life—the experiential, or that which happens to us; the creative, or that which we bring into existence; and the attitudinal, or our response in difficult circumstances such as terminal illness.

Listening to Our Language

  • Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people.
  • Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make, forgiving of self, like a mother bringing a new born into the world.
  • Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.

Direct, Indirect, and No Control

  • The problems we face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people's behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities).

The “Haves” and The “Be’s”

  • Anytime we think the problem is “out there,” that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us. The change paradigm is “outside-in”—what's out there has to change before we can change.
  • … the most positive way I can influence my situation Is to work on myself, on my being.

The Other Side of The Stick

  • While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law.

Making and Keeping Commitments

  • At the very heart of our Circle of Influence is our ability to make and keep commitments and promises.
  • By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods. The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness.

Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind

Principle of Personal Leadership

  • How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.

All Things Are Created Twice

  • “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.

By Design or Default

  • It’s a principle that all things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious design. In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our Circle of Influence to shape much of our lives by default.
  • We reactively live the scripts handed to us by family, associates, other people’s agendas, the pressures of circumstance - scripts from our earlier years, from our training, our conditioning.  
  • These scripts come from people, not principles. And they rise out of our deep vulnerabilities, our deep dependency on others and our needs for love, for belonging, for a sense of importance and worth, for a feeling that we matter.
  • We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits.

Rescripting: Becoming Your Own First Creator

  • Through imagination, we can visualize the uncreated worlds of potential that lie within us. Through conscience, we can come in contact with universal laws or principles with our own singular talents and avenues of contribution.
  • …real success is success with self. It’s not in having things, but in having mastery, having victory over self.
  • I can live out my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to my limitless potential instead of my limiting past.

A Personal Mission Statement

  • The most effective way I know to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed. It focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based.
  • The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.

At The Center

  • Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
  • Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it. Guidance means your source of direction in life. Wisdom is your perspective on life. Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength or potency to accomplish something.
  • When these four factors are present together, harmonized and enlivened by each other, they create the great force of a noble personality, a balanced character, a beautifully integrated individual.

Alternative Centers

  • Spouse centerdness, family centerdness, money centerdness, work centerdness, possession centerdness, pleasure centerdness, friend/enemy centeredness, church centeredness, self-centeredness.

A Principle Center

  • By centering our lives on correct principles, we create a solid foundation for development of the four life-support factors.
  • Our security comes from knowing that, unlike other centers based on people or things which are subject to frequent and immediate change, correct principles do not change. We can depend on them.
  • Principles are deep, fundamental truths, classic truths, generic common denominators. They are tightly interwoven threads running with the exactness, consistency, beauty, and strength through the fabric of life.
  • Even in the midst of people or circumstances that seem to ignore the principles, we can be secure in the knowledge that principles are bigger than people or circumstances, and that thousands of years of history have seen them triumph, time and time again.
  • Even more important, we can be secure in the knowledge that we can validate them in our own lives, by our own experience.
  • The principles don't change; our understanding of them does.
  • The personal power that comes from principle-centered living is the power of a self-aware, knowledgeable, proactive individual, unrestricted by the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of others or by many of the circumstances and environmental influences that limit other people.
  • As a principle-centered person, you see things differently. And because you see things differently, you act differently.

Identifying Roles and Goals

  • One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life is that they don't think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Principles of Personal Management

  • Question 1: What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?
  • Question 2: What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?
  • Habit 3, then, is the second creation, the physical creation. It's the fulfillment, the actualization, the natural emergence of Habits 1 and 2. It's the exercise of independent will toward becoming principle-centered. It's the day-in, day-out, moment-by-moment doing it.
  • It is the ability to act rather than to be acted upon, to proactively carry out the program we have developed through the other three endowments.
  • …”time management” is really a misnomer—the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

What It Takes to Say “No”

  • But you have to decide what your highest prairies are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, not apologetically—to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having it bigger “yes” burning inside.
  • The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities.

The Quadrant II Tool

  • The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. And this can best be done in the context of the week.

Living It

  • Again, you simply can't think efficiency with people. You think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.
  • Remember, frustration is a function of our expectations, and our expectations are often a reflection of the social mirror rather than our own values and priorities.

Delegation: Increasing P and PC

  • If we delegate to time, we think efficiency. If we delegate to other people, we think effectiveness.
  • But effectively delegating to others is perhaps the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.

Gofer Delegation

  • There are basically two kinds of delegation: “gofer delegation” and “stewardship delegation.” Gofer delegation means “Go for this, go for that, do this, do that, and tell me when it's done.”
  • There's a much better way, and more effective way to delegate to other people. And it’s based on the paradigm of appreciation of the self-awareness, the imagination, the conscience, and the free will of other people.

Stewardship Delegation

  • Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods. It gives people a choice of method and makes them responsible for results.
  • Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience, and it doesn't preclude the necessity to train and develop people so that their competency can rise to the level of that trust.
  • The Steward becomes his own boss, governed by a conscience that contains the commitment to agreed upon desired results.

The Quadrant II Paradigm

  • The key to effective management himself, or of others to delegation, is not in any technique or tool or extrinsic factor. It is intrinsic—in the Quadrant II paradigm that empowers you to see through the lens of importance rather than urgency.

Part Three: Public Victory

Paradigms of Interdependence

  • You can't be successful with other people if you haven't paid the price of success with yourself.
  • …”you can't talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.”
  • You can't have the fruits without the roots. It's the principle of sequencing: Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.
  • …if you don't know yourself, if you don't control yourself, if you don't have mastery over yourself, it's very hard to like yourself, except in some short-term, psych-up superficial way.
  • Independence is an achievement. Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Unless we're willing to achieve real independence, it's foolish to try to develop human relations skills.
  • We might try. We might even have some degree of success when the sun is shining. But when the difficult times come—and they will—we won't have the foundation to keep things together.
  • The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are.
  • As we become independent—proactive, centered in correct principles, value driven and able to organize and execute around the priorities in our life with integrity—we then can choose to become interdependent—capable of building rich, enduring, highly productive relationships with other people.
  • But it [relationships] is also where we feel the greatest pain, the greatest frustration, the greatest roadblocks to happiness and success.

The Emotional Bank Account

  • An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that's been built up in a relationship. It's the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.
  • If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve.
  • If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage will deteriorate. Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits.
  • There are sometimes automatic withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you that you don't even know about. This is especially true with teenagers in the home.

Six Major Deposits

Understanding the Individual

  • Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit.
  • …what is important to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you.

Attending to The Little Things

  • In relationships, the little things are the big things.
  • People are very tender, very sensitive inside. I don't believe age or experience makes much difference. Inside, even within the most toughened and calloused exteriors, are the tender feelings and emotions of the heart.

Keeping Commitments

  • Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. In fact, there's probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that's important to someone and then not to come through.

Clarifying Expectations

  • The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.
  • In marriage, for example, a man and a woman have implicit expectations of each other in their marriage roles… fulfilling them makes great deposits in the relationship and violating them makes withdrawals.

Showing Personal Integrity

  • Integrity is conforming reality to our words—in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.
  • One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present. When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.
  • Integrity in an interdependent reality is simply this: you treat everyone by the same set of principles.

Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal

  • When we make withdrawals from the Emotional Bank Account, we need to apologize and we need to do it sincerely.
  • People with little internal security can't do it. It makes them too vulnerable. They feel it makes them appear soft and weak, and they fear that others will take advantage of their weakness. Their security is based on the opinions of other people, and they worry about what others might think.

The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life

  • When we make deposits of unconditional love, when we live the primary laws of love, we encourage others to live the primary laws of life. In other words, when we truly love others without condition, without strings, we help them feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in there essential worth, identity, and integrity. Their natural growth process is encouraged.
  • This does not mean we become permissive or soft. That itself is a massive withdrawal.
  • When we violate the primary laws of love—when we attach strings and conditions to that gift—we actually encourage others to violate the primary laws of love. We put them in a reactive position where they feel they have to prove "I matter as a person independent of you."
  • In reality, they aren't independent. They are counter-dependent, which is another form of dependency and is at the lowest end of the Maturity Continuum.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Principles of Interpersonal Leadership

  • Whether you are the president of a company or the janitor, the moment you step from independence into interdependence in any capacity, you step into a leadership role. You are in a position of influencing other people. In the habit of effective interpersonal leadership is Think Win/Win.

Six Paradigms of Human Interaction

  • Win/Win is not a technique; it's a total philosophy of human interaction.


  • Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.


  • Most people have been deeply scripted in the Win/Lose mentality since birth.
  • Whenever love is given on a conditional basis, when someone has to earn love, what's being communicated to them is that they are not intrinsically valuable or lovable.
  • The academic world reinforces Win/Lose scripting.


  • Lose/Win is worse than Win/Lose because it has no standards—no demands, no expectations, no vision. People who think Lose/Win are usually quick to please for appease. They seek strength from popularity for acceptance.
  • But the problem is that the Lose/Win people bury a lot of feelings. And unexpressed feelings never die: they're buried alive and come forth later and in uglier ways.


  • When two Win/Lose people get together—that is, when two determined, stubborn, ego-invested individuals interact - the result will be Lose/Lose. Both will lose.


  • When there is no sense of contest or competition, Win is probably the most common approach in everyday negotiation.

Which Option Is Best?

  • In the long run, if it isn't a win for both of us, we both lose. That's why Win/Win is the only real alternative in interdependent realities.

Win/Win or No Deal

  • No Deal basically means that if we can't find a solution that would benefit us both, we agree to disagree agreeably—No Deal.
  • When you have No Deal as an option in your mind, you feel liberated because you have no need to manipulate people, to push your own agenda, to drive for what you want. You can be open.


  • Character is the foundation of Win/Win, and everything else builds on that foundation. There are three character traits essential to the Win/Win paradigm.
  • Integrity. As we can clearly identify our values and proactively organize and execute around those values on a daily basis, we develop self-awareness and independent will by making and keeping meaningful promises and commitments.
  • Maturity. Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration.
  • While courage may focus on getting the golden egg, consideration deals with the long term welfare of other stakeholders.
  • If I'm high on courage and low on consideration, how will I think? Win/Lose.
  • If I'm high on consideration and low on courage, I’ll think Lose/Win.
  • High courage and consideration are both essential to Win/Win. It is the balance that is the mark of real maturity. If I have it, I can listen, I can empathically understand, but I can also courageously confront.
  • Abundance Mentality. The third character trait essential to Win/Win is the Abundance Mentality, the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.
  • The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security.


  • In the Win/Win agreement, the following five elements are made very explicitly:
  • Desired results, Guidelines, Resources, Accountability, Consequences


  • Win/Win can only survive in an organization when the systems support it.
  • You basically get what you reward. If you want to achieve the goals and reflect the values in your mission statement, then you need to align the reward system with these goals and values.
  • So often the problem is in the system, not in the people. If you put good people in bad systems, you get bad results.


  • … the essence of principled negotiation is to separate the person from the problem, to focus on interests and not on positions, to invent options for mutual gain, and to insist on objective criteria…

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Principles of Empathic Communication

  • If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Character and Communication

  • Communication is the most important skill in life. We spend most of our waking hours communicating.

Empathic Listening

  • Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. They're filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other peoples lives.
  • When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand.
  • It's deeply therapeutic and healing because it gives a person “psychological air.”
  • It's only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival—to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.

Four Autobiographical Responses

  • Because we listen autobiographically, we tend to respond in one of four ways.
  • We evaluate—we either agree or disagree; we probe—we ask questions from our own frame of reference; we advise—we give counsel based on our own experience; we try to figure people out, to explain their motives, their behavior, based on our motives and behavior.

Then Seek to Be Understood

  • Knowing how to be understood is the other half of Habit 5, and is equally critical in reaching Win/Win solutions.
  • …seeking to be understood takes courage.

One On One

  • Because you really listen, you become influenceable. And being influenceable is the key to influencing others.
  • The more deeply you understand other people, the more you appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.
  • The time you invest to deeply understand the people you love brings tremendous dividends and open communication. Many of the problems that plague families and marriages simply don't have time to fester and develop.

Habit 6: Synergize

Principles of Creative Cooperation

  • Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people.
  • What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying, and the most exciting part.
  • Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots comingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated.
  • The challenge is to apply the principles of creative cooperation, which we learn from nature, in our social interactions.

Synergy in The Classroom

  • The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves.
  • Once people have experienced real synergy, they're never quite the same again.
  • Instead of a transaction, it's a transformation.

Negative Synergy

  • One of the very practical results of being principle-centered is that it makes us whole—truly integrated.

Valuing The Differences

  • Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy—the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is but as they are.

All Nature Is Synergistic

  • Ecology is a word which basically describes the synergism in nature—everything's related to everything else. It's in the relationship that creative powers are maximized, just as the real power in these Seven Habits is in their relationship to each other, not just in the individual habits themselves.
  • Synergy works; it's a correct principle. It is the crowning achievement of all the previous habits.

Part 4: Renewal

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

  • Habit 7 is taking time to sharpen the saw… this is the habit that makes all the others possible.

Four Dimensions of Renewal

  • Habit 7 is personal PC (productivity capacity). It's preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It's renewing the four dimensions of your nature—physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.
  • It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways.
  • This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life—investment in ourselves, and the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.

The Physical Dimension

  • The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body—eating the right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis.
  • A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and one that will build your body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.
  • Probably the greatest benefit you'll experience from exercising will be the development of your Habit 1 muscles of productivity.

The Spiritual Dimension

  • The spiritual dimension is your core, your center, your commitment to your value system.
  • Spiritual renewal takes an investment of time.

The Mental Dimension

  • Education—continuing eduction, continually honing and expanding the mind—is vital mental renewal.
  • It is extremely valuable to train the mind to stand apart and examine its own program. That, to me, is the definition of a liberal education—ability to examine the programs of life against larger questions and purposes and other paradigms.
  • Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.

The Social/Emotional Dimension

  • The social and 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.
  • Where does intrinsic security come from? I believe that a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth.
  • Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
  • There is also the intrinsic security that comes as a result of effective interdependent living.
  • There is intrinsic security that comes from service, from helping other people in a meaningful way.

Scripting Others

  • Most people are a function of the social mirror, scripted by the opinions, the perceptions, the paradigms of the people around them.

Synergy in Renewal

  • Balanced renewal is optimally synergistic. The things you do to sharpen the saw in any one dimension have a positive impact in other dimensions because they're so highly interrelated.

The Upward Spiral

  • Conscience is the endowment that senses our congruence or disparity with correct principles and lifts us toward them—when it’s in shape.
  • Once we are self-aware, we must choose purposes and principles to live by; otherwise the vacuum will be filled, and we will lose our self-awareness and become like groveling animals who live primarily for survival and propagation. People who exist on that level aren't living; they are “being lived”.

Inside-Out Again

  • … one day as I was wandering between stacks of books in the back of the college library, I came across a book that drew my interest. As I opened it, my eyes fell upon a single paragraph that powerfully influenced the rest of my life.
  • I read the paragraph over and over again. It basically contained the simple idea that there is a gap or a space between stimulus and response, and that the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.

Becoming a Transition Person

  • Change—real change—comes from the inside out. It doesn't come from hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior with quick fix personality ethic techniques. It comes from striking at the root—the fabric of our thought, the fundamental, essential paradigms, which give definition to our character and create the lens through which we see the world.
  • Achieving unity—oneness—with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our friends and working associates, is the highest and best and most delicious fruit of the Seven Habits.
  • It begins with the desire to center our lives on correct principles, to break out of the paradigms created by other centers in the comfort zones of unworthy habits.
  • Again, I quote Emerson: "that which we persist in doing becomes easier—not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”

A Personal Note

  • I personally struggle with much of what I have shared in this book. But the struggle is worthwhile and fulfilling. It gives meaning to my life and it enables me to love, to serve, and to try again.