by Stephen R.Covey.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a unique book and presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach for addressing and resolving personal and professional problems. It provides a framework for living and working based on fundamental principles, which allows individuals to see the opportunities for change and to take ownership for them. Covey offers the reader an opportunity of self-exploration and insight and informs us of how our behaviour can impact others. He does not offer us solutions. He empowers the reader to seize opportunities for change and personal development via a better understanding of one’s self. The principles apply to our personal lives, our family lives and also our professional lives.
I first read this book back in the late 80’s and to be quite honest, I did not really take in the messages and learning from it. The main message that really stayed in my mind was the area of perception. The example that Covey uses, about the man on the bus with his rowdy children, coming from the hospital, was imprinted in my mind. I often recalled this and used this as an example of how our perceptions lead us to think and/or behave in a certain way. However, I was delighted to be afforded the opportunity to read this book again, to support my learning and development in my role as a coach. I can honestly say that I could not put this book down. Every chapter and every Habit made such sense. The way Covey introduces the Habit and its rationale, as well as the learning & opportunities that can be derived from actualisation of this Habit, is excellent. The contents also support a number of the development programmes, that I currently run and as such, this book is regularly recommended as an additional reading support and resource to programme participants. Covey’s work is clearly supported by far-reaching research, experience and real examples. His examples clearly demonstrate the impact of our behaviour on others and assist in raising self-awareness.
From a personal perspective, part one of the book- ‘Paradigms and Principles, provides a foundation for raising self-awareness from the inside-out. This step is essential before one can look at change. Being self-aware is a key driver towards positive and fulfilling change. From a coaching perspective, the Habit that served to further consolidate learning, is Habit 5 : Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. From a personal & even from a work perspective, Habit Four: Think Win/Win was hugely beneficial. There were a number of ‘Aha’ moments in that chapter.
It is not a book that you can read and then forget about. It is a book that I continuously find myself picking up and referring back to different chapters. Habit 7 Sharpen the Saw – outlines principles for balanced self renewal and that is why we should continuously to take note of our behaviour and what is driving our behaviour – taking us back again to looking at ourselves from ‘Inside-Out’.
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