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on March 2, 1999
As the title of the book implies, Covey describes the seven habits of highly effective people and techniques for adopting the seven habits. Covey makes clear that an individual must make a paradigm shift before incorporating these habits into his/her own personal life. A paradigm is essentially the way an individual perceives something. Covey emphasizes that if we want to make a change in our lives, we should probably first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviors. He applies different examples via family, business, and society in general.
This book's focal point is on an approach to obtain personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Covey points out that private victories precede public victories. He makes the example that making and keeping promises to ourselves comes before making and keeping promises to others.
Habits 1, 2, and 3 deal with self-mastery. They move an individual from dependency on others to independence. Habits 4, 5, and 6 deal with teamwork, cooperation, and communication. These habits deal with transforming a person from dependency to independence to interdependence. Interdependence simply means mutual dependence. Habit 7 embodies all of the other habits to help an individual work toward continuous improvement.
Habit 1 discusses the importance of being proactive. Covey states that we are responsible for our own lives; therefore, we possess the initiative to make things happen. He also points out that proactive people so not blame various circumstances for their behaviors but they realize behavior comes from one's conscious. Covey also explains that the other type of person is reactive. Reactive people are affected by their social as well as physical surroundings. This means that if the weather is bad, then it affects their behavior such as their attitude and performance.
He also explains that all problems that are experienced by individuals fall into one of three categories, which are direct control, indirect control, or no control. The problems that are classified under direct control are the problems that involve our own behavior. The problems classified as indirect control encompasses problems that we can do nothing about. The problems classified as no control are those that we can do nothing about.
Habit 2 focuses on beginning with the end in mind. Covey wants the reader to envision his/her funeral. This may sound disheartening but his goal is to help you think about the words that you wish to be said about you; it can help the individual visualize what you value the most. To begin with the end simply means to start with your destination in mind. That gives an individual a sense of where he/she presently is in their life. One has to know where they are going to make sure that they are headed in the right direction. Covey also mentions that the most effective way to begin with the end is by developing a personal mission statement. After doing that, you should identify your center of attention. Are you spouse centered, money centered, family centered, etc. The he tells you depending on you core of interest, your foundation for security, guidance, and power.
Habit 3 is the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2. Covey accentuates that Habits 1 and 2 are prerequisite to Habit 3. He states that an individual cannot become principle centered developing their own proactive nature; or without being aware of your paradigms; or the capability of envisioning the contribution that is yours to make. One must have an independent will. This is the ability to make decisions and to act in accordance with them.
Habit 4 deals with the six paradigms of interaction, which are win/win, win/lose, lose/win, lose/lose, win, and win/win or no deal. Win/win is a situation in which everyone benefits something. It is not your way or my way; it is a better way. Win/lose declares that if I win then you lose. Simply put, I get my way; you don't get yours. Win/lose people usually use position, power, possessions, or personality to get their way. The win/lose type of person is the person that feels that if I lose; you win. People who feel this way are usually easy to please and find the strength of others intimidating. When two win/lose people get together both will lose resulting in a lose/lose situation. Both will try to get the upper end of the stick but in the end, neither gets anything. The person that simply thinks to win secures their own ends and leaves it up to others to secure theirs. The win/win or no deal person means that if there is not a suitable solution met that satisfies both parties then there is no agreement.
Habit 5 deals with seeking means of effective communication. This habit deals with seeking first to understand. However, we usually seek first to be understood. Most people to not listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply. The act of listening to understand is referred to as empathic listening. That means you try to get into the person's frame of mind and think as they are thinking.
Habit 6 discuses combining all of the other habits to prepare us for the habit of synergy. Synergy means that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Possessing all of the habits will benefit an individual more than possessing one or two of them. Synergism in communication allows you to open your mind to new possibilities or new options.
Habit 7 involves surrounds the other habits because it is the habit that makes all of the others possible. It is amplifying the greatest asset you have which is yourself. It is renewing your physical, emotional, mental, and social nature. The physical scope involves caring for yourself effectively. Spiritual renewal will take more time. Our mental development comes through formal education. Quality literature in our field of study as well as other fields help to broaden our paradigms. Renewing the social dimension is not as time consuming as the others. We can start by our everyday interactions with people.
Moving along the upward spiral requires us to continuously learn, commit, and do on higher planes. This is essential to keep progressing. At the end of each habit, there are application suggestions or exercises that help you become a more effective person. This is definitely not a quick fix it book. The concepts should be studied in order to be fully achieved. I think if you learn to use these 7 habits, it will change your life.
This is a must-have book.
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on October 30, 2006
This review is for people who already know that the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is valuable and who are now trying to choose which audio version would be most useful for themselves or for people they know. I recently bought three different audio CD versions (plus a few copies of the book) as gifts for people with different personalities and learning styles. I am also familiar with some older products.

Sometimes the product descriptions don't give you a clear idea which product you're reading about. Check the running times of audio products to determine if they're similar to the ones described below:


The product on this page (as I write this review) is an UNABRIDGED AUDIO CD VERSION of the 15th anniversary edition of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Unabridged Audio Program). It would be ideal for people who are ready for a personal plan to study and apply the principles in the book to their own lives, but who need a little extra "push". I would suggest listening to the CDs before or while studying corresponding segments of the book, either alone or with someone else. The encouraging, calm and authentic voice of the author gives an extra dimension to the text - keeps you focused. Regularly scheduled study or discussion sessions could be short, as each CD is divided into several tracks which basically follow the headings and sub-headings in the book. This CD product demonstrates how well the book was written, as the text flows so nicely when read by the author. It includes some introductory and explanatory comments in addition to the text in the book.

This could be a 5-star product for people who plan to use it along with the book or after having read the book. It is probably not the most efficient "stand-alone" learning tool for most people - the printed book is. It may be good for those who have more time for listening (about 14 hours on 13 disks) than for reading and who are good at learning by hearing. The discs come with a little "study guide" booklet, which I think was created for an earlier audio product. The booklet is good for review, but seeing the diagrams in the original book is more useful if you are reading along with the audio version. I find the occasional introductory music in the audio program a little distracting, but the author's reading is engaging.

The unabridged book is also available for audio download The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Unabridged) with a slightly shorter running time (less than 13 hours) listed. I'm not sure how it would compare in usefulness to the CDs discussed here.

REVIEW #2 - THREE DISC PROGRAM (and corresponding download)

Of the audio products I have listened to, the one I would consider to be "5 star" as a stand-alone learning tool (either for individual or small-group listening) is the 3-DISC "AUDIOBOOK ON CD" (circa 2001-2002) which says, "Taught by the Author" on the cover rather than "Unabridged, read by the author". The 3-CD set The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is intermittently available at Amazon. However, it is not really an "Audiobook". It is also very different from the one-CD product described in the "Product Description".

This product presents information partly in a seminar or classroom lecture format, with comments by people on how they have applied some of the principles in their own lives. The importance of integrity and trust in interpersonal and business relationships seem to get extra emphasis in this audio product. Running time is about 3 hours, 20 minutes.

This is probably the most useful audio product for people who don't like to read much, but it also complements the book without following it too closely. It comes with a useful little study guide summarizing the "7 habits", which includes some of the diagrams found in the book. The booklet is handy as an overview, even if you have the book. I believe that this product is more suitable for non-optimal listening situations (in the car, etc.) than is the 13-disc unabridged audio book, which, like the printed book, seems to call for a quiet setting where you can devote your full attention.

Each CD in the 3-disc set is divided into short one or two minute tracks (sometimes with several tracks in a single topic segment) so you can pause easily for reflection or discussion. Divisions between the short tracks are not evident as you are listening. Some reviewers have noted troublesome differences in volume between the text and short musical "bumpers" between topics. This bothered me a little on one of the CD players I listened with. You might try turning down the treble or turning the volume up and moving further from the machine if the relative loudness of the music bothers you.

Update May 2010: A download is now available. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. You might want to also purchase the original book, which contains all the diagrams in the booklet which accompanies the CD set, plus much more.

In case the set is not available at Amazon, Franklin-Covey sells a (more expensive) 3-CD set which is likely similar to the product described above, with different cover art. Conant-Nightingale sells a 6-CD set which I would also expect to be a quality product.


The SIMON & SCHUSTER SINGLE-DISC CD version (copyright 1999) of the old, original Simon and Schuster audiocassette product also should not really be classified as an "audiobook". by Stephen R. Covey (Author)7 Habits Of Highly Effective People [Audio CD, Abridged, Audiobook, CD] In its day, the audiocassette version was a very well-produced, lucid overview of the original book with introductory statements by a female narrator, then explanations and examples by Dr. Covey from his professional seminars. The tape version was useful as motivation to read, teach, apply or to think more deeply about the book than as an independent learning tool. It was a big seller when the book was making a big splash.

Simon & Schuster dropped the ball when they put the CD version onto a single track of about 72 minutes. You may need to be prepared to listen to the whole CD in one sitting. I now cannot find this product on Amazon, but I do see a new, more expensive 1-CD product called a "15th anniversary edition", publishing date 2005. The product information states that the publisher is Simon & Schuster, but the image says FranklinCovey. It may be a new release of the original audiocasette. I would check to see if multiple tracks have been added before buying it. You might consider a DVD if you're looking for a single-sitting refresher or motivator. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Foundational Principles


I notice that FranklinCovey is now coming out with a new "SIGNATURE SERIES" of CDs in which one CD is devoted to each of the "7 habits". I am not familiar with this product. The CDs are sold as a set or individually.

Some other audio products and "spin-off" products have been introduced over the years. I much prefer the products which present information in an organized manner to those which present seemingly random motivational thoughts (like Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People: Living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Every Day, cards, calendars, etc.). Many of the "spin-off" products would be far less valuable than the original book to people not familiar with the book. The products which present random (though often excellent) thoughts may be useful for some people who are already familiar with the book and who are interested in applying its principles.

Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change coould be inspirational to people who think that corporate over-achievers are the only people who can benefit from the original book. It includes stories of people in some really difficult situations who have changed their lives by applying the "7 Habits".
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on June 13, 2001
The book is not bad. It's got some good advice, and if you live your life by the "Seven Habits," then you're going to come out better than if you didn't live by them. But it's my opinion that Covey has made something quite simple quite complex. In other words, I believe that most of the "Seven Habits" are nothing profound: treat others like you would like to be treated), be goal-oriented, manage your time wisely, seek the wisdom and insight of others, be slow to speak and quick to listen - nothing new here. The problem is that Covey tends to intellectualize these concepts to the point that many readers may find it difficult to understand what he's talking about at times. And, those that do understand will become frustrated that he takes a whole lot of pages to say something that could have been dealt with in fairly short order.
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on December 1, 2005
"If you don't have confidence in the diagnosis, you won't have confidence in the prescription" (244)

Stephen Covey has much to say on the qualities of effective people. Covey's purpose in detailing the seven habits is to help people improve themselves. The seven habits are woven into a tapestry on a diagram that shows the working of all seven habits in communion. When viewing the diagram, one is reminded of Benjamin Franklin's engraving of the snake which was divided into thirteen pieces, with the caption "Join or Die." Each of the seven habits is integral to viewing the picture as a whole, as well as seeing the development from dependence to independence to interdependence. The reader is pulled into activities for further application, to decide what type of Quadrant II activities exist, and to find what is at the center of the reader's life in a bid to understand how paradigms work. The first three habits, which lead to independence, a private victory, lead to the final four steps, which include public victory.

Habit #1: Be Proactive

Being proactive is the foundation of the entire seven habits paradigm. In a sense, all the other habits are types of being proactive. This entails a realization that you are a person who can take direct control of a situation and, even if you have no actions that you are allowed to perform, you can still control your outlook.

Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind

Covey begins this section with the description of the reader's funeral as an illustration of how one end in view can change the previous years' effort. The visualized step of seeing the end is the first part of any successful plan.

Habit #3: Put First Things First

The second step of a successful plan, following the visualization, is the managing step, that of physically performing the task.

Habit #4: Think Win/Win

Out of six possible scenarios, Win/Win is the highest form of agreement between parties that empowers all involved and does not sour the milk of future relations with resentment.

Habit #5: Seek first to Understand, then to Be Understood

Covey says that this is the most immediately applicable of all the seven habits. He is right. However, this is probably the most difficult habit to practice since it requires a major paradigm shift in how one views communication. Communication is not a pipe to send information with a limited bandwidth. Rather, it is like a circuit that requires lessening of resistance to allow the proper current through. The current is the message and the resistance is our willingness to control our reaction and proactive empathic listening.

Habit #6: Synergize

Synergy is not "'sin-energy' the energy of sinfulness" as some punning Christian might say. Synergy is what happens when a group of independent people coalesce their creative energies and the result is more than the sum of their individual input. It is the culmination of the other habits and it requires integrity to be most effective. Synergy is a high type of compromise in which all parties maintain a Win/Win situation.

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

When Covey details sharpening the saw, he gives the reader one final abstraction of thought, a level above the others that entails keeping all the other skills sharpened by continued planning, practice, and renewal. These are the dynamics of the saw: Physical, social, mental, and spiritual-coincidentally, these are the four dimensions of the Florida College emblem
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on May 30, 2002
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 an excellent way to learn how to do that.I also highly recommend Turner, Turner, Turner: The King of Network Marketing to learn strategies from another highly spirited man who has learned how to achieve maximum effectiveness and keep balance in all aspects of life.
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on May 2, 2004
Stephen Covey has written an excellent book which should be read by everyone. This great work restores character, or at least underscores the need for character ethic in our society.
Must reading for all value driven people.
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on November 11, 2003
This is one of the greatest books ever written to help people like me find their way in the world. Before this book, I read lots of self-improvement books, but none of them inspired lasting change. This book makes sense and helped me tie all the information I had gathered together and made it stick. I have read all of Dr. Covey's books and follow his recommendations as much as possible. First Things First, another book by Dr. Covey, gave me control of my priorities and stopped my life-long habit of procrastination. A few weeks ago, I learned that Dr. Covey had recommended Optimal Thinking-How to be your Best Self, so I read it. Optimal Thinking cured me of all the confusion I had about positive thinking. I learned how to put best self in charge of my life, and ask the best questions to find the best solutions. I could not have committed to a principle-driven life if Dr. Covey had not shown me the way.
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on January 29, 2001
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' does a good job of tying together the seemingly diverse areas of human relationships, awareness, spirituality and business issues. While the focus is mostly business and work-related, Covey touches on how to be more effective in every area of life from marriage to contract negotiations. He brings a fresh perspective to improving our relationships with ourselves and everyone else in our lives. One thing I especially liked was how he carefully explains that there are not necessarily specific steps or methods to building the Habits, but rather conveys the necessity of a change in underlying attitudes that is required for significant progress in our lives. In this respect, the book reminds me of "WORKING ON YOURSELF DOESN'T WORK" by Ariel and Shya Kane (another excellent book on being more effective, as well as becoming more satisfied in all areas of one's life). Both books do not try to fill you with new 'techniques', they instead describe new ways of looking at ourselves - which ultimately produces the lasting results we are seeking. The contrast between popular 'self-help' jargon and the lessons described in this book are clear and enlightening. The book feels like it was written by a spiritual disciple with an MBA, and rather than forsaking one approach for the other, there is a synergistic (Synergizing is habit 6) blend of perspectives. I recommend this book highly to those who haven't had much exposure to teachings on awareness, as many of the examples are relevant to the real world and quite practical. For those who have read a lot on self-improvement, 7 HABITS can add a new, more business-like dimension, and reading "WORKING ON YOURSELF DOESN'T WORK" will allow you to achieve a greater understanding of what fulfillment really feels like.
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on March 27, 2004
I found this great book by Dr. Covey to be both sensible and pragmatic. This is an outstanding book that really delivers. Follow the 7 habits and you will become a success.
Other books I recommend include The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and Super Self (if you can find a copy) by the late Charles Givens.
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on June 19, 1999
Although I have read many personal development books, 7 Habits is by far the best. No hype, hoopla, pyscho-babble that is so prevalent today, however, I submit that 7 Habits will be around long after the hypsters are gone. I work in a 1,500 staff facility and 7 Habits is required reading for all management staff. I also recommend Superself, possibly one of the most underrated books out there and Financial Self Defense which in my opinion, is the financial book version of 7 Habits.
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