wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)


American expert in personal development and leadership (pictured right) who died in 2012.


See also...

Stephen Covey in the Management Gurus section.

 Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

Book summary


The seven principles for success are:


1. Be proactive

Accept responsibility for your life and do something to change it by:

  • taking the initiative. Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)
  • focusing on what you can control (the Circle of Influence) and accept what you can't.
  • not being negatively reactive (particularly blaming others).
  • learning from your mistakes.
  • principle-centredness (putting the right principles like love into action) - essential for change.


 2. Begin with the end in mind 

Find your life’s purpose based upon changing the world through your principles.

Base your life on becoming the person you would like to be - for example:

To live with integrity and to make a difference in the lives of others. Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)


3. Put first things first 

Do what’s important first.


4. Think win/win 

Seek mutual benefit in your relationships. This requires:


a) integrity

Practise these principles:

  • love (positive giving) and patience.
  • respect for human dignity.
  • fairness and honesty.
  • promise keeping.
  • fulfilling expectations.

 Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

b) maturity

Balancing courage and consideration for other people's feelings and convictions


c) the abundance principle

(there's enough for everybody)


d) understand others and then be understood

(see habit 5)

 Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood 

Empathetic two-way communication - how?

  • understand others' point of view and then being understood.
  • patient listening.
  • understand and identify the problem before finding a solution.


 Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

6. Synergize

Creative co-operation with others in groups by:

  • being open to new ideas and different views.
  • finding creative solutions to problems in groups (though inspirational purpose, passion, brainstorming, questioning and constructive debate).


7. Sharpen the saw

Continuous self-improvement in four areas that should all be kept in balance:Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

  • physical (exercise, nutrition, stress management).
  • social/emotional (service, empathy, good relationships, creativity, psychological security).
  • spiritual (reflection and clarifying values).
  • mental (reading, visualizing, planning and writing).

 You have the potential to be great, so persevere.


Key quote on decision making

The way we see the problem is the problem

Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded.


Key quote on leadership and management

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

Effective management is putting first things first.


Key quotes on influencing people 

It is character that communicates most eloquently. 

We see the world not as it is but as we are.

Act or be acted upon.


Key quote on change

The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.


Key quote on happiness

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.


Key quotes on motivation

 Trust is the highest form of human motivation.

No involvement, no commitment.



The 8th Habit (2004)

Covey added an eighth habit of personal effectiveness: Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs” i.e. be uniquely significant and encourage others to do the same.

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