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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change Paperback – Special Edition, November 19, 2013
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"Dun's Business Month" When Stephen Covey talks, executives listen.
M. Scott Peck author of "The Road Less Traveled" The 7 Habits have the gift of being simple without being simplistic.
About the Author
Recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012) was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author. His books have sold more than twenty-five million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, a leading global training firm.
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Covey isn't as bad as Tony Robbins, but he is in the same ball park. The few nuggets of wisdom that can be found buried among all the garbage in 7 Habits are common sense that any one who has been paying attention in life should already know at a young age. Allow me to elaborate:
1. Be Proactive. You get to decide how you react to things. Your mom taught you this as "two wrongs don't make a right." When your kid brother hit you, it didn't make things better to hit him back.
2. Begin with the end in mind. This is called planning ahead. Humans have been doing this for millennia.
3. Put first things first. Uh, yeah. "Junior, eat your vegetables if you want to have dessert. Clean your room before you go out and play." Etc. This one strikes me as the "Well, duh!" habit.
4. Think Win-Win. Two kids want to watch different TV shows. Mom says they don't get to watch anything until they work out a solution. Yet another example of something that any good parent would have taught us.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. In the sales and marketing game this is called knowing your customer needs. As a child, mom and dad should have taught you about thinking about other people's feelings. It's all the same.
6. Synergize. Ever play team sports as a kid? Again, "Duh!"
7. Sharpen the saw. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
There is only one habit of highly successful people, and that is that they DON'T waste their time reading self-help nonsense. YOU shouldn't either. If you want to read something to better yourself, read educational information that will make you better at your job, being a parent, being a spouse, a citizen, more active politically. Learn about the world and how it works. Learn about people. Learn how to change the oil in your car or build a tree fort.
If you were paying attention in life, you already know the Seven Habits. I repeat: Covey is like the rest of these motivational gurus: a scam artist who wants your money. I'm glad I don't work for the company that pushed this tripe on me any longer.
Covey's formula isn't controversial or unusual, let alone profound. I can see how a critic trying to point out the self-evident banality of the Seven Principles could easily be put on the defensive. It is an erroneous jump in logic however, to claim that someone who dislikes this book doesn't believe "Think Win-Win," or "Put First Things First" are worthwhile ideas. Of course they're good, but hardly arcane, even if we tend to de-prioritize them when we're caught up with everything else in life. To be honest, I find the implication more than a little condescending that Covey thinks the rest of us need a written manifesto from him on this holy septad. And though a reminder never hurts, Covey loses his objectivity as early as the introduction in personal matters, preaches in abstracts and anecdotes, and directs you to powerpoint style worksheets and charts in the appendix. There is certainly more than is dreamt of in his philosophy, and it lacks any genuinely practical or serious investigation into what really distinguishes "effective" people from those who aren't, when both may be aware of and working at these principles.
Remember, Covey is selling something - either through his books, his consulting business, or his partnership with the Franklin company - and he is trying very hard to convince you that you lack it, need help obtaining it, and that he can exclusively give it to you. If you're really curious, go ahead and read the book. It won't hurt, but don't grouse afterward that you've wasted your time and/or money to be told what you already realized by early adolescence about how to be a good and productive person. You were warned.