Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

A mockup of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book by Stephen Covey. PHOTO/Leader in Me.
A mockup of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book by Stephen Covey. PHOTO/Leader in Me.

Book Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Author: Stephen R. Covey

Reviewer: Rahmat Zeb Khan

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey intrigues readers with its exploration of seven habits. 

Successful individuals worldwide adhere to specific daily routines and adopt particular habits that elevate them in their respective fields. 

These habits and routines are succinctly encapsulated by the author in this book. 

Anyone who follows these habits diligently is poised to excel in their endeavors, as Covey meticulously crafted them based on extensive research on the world’s most influential individuals.

Furthermore, Covey presents a holistic approach to self-improvement, emphasizing principles that empower individuals to achieve success while maintaining integrity and balance in their lives. 

This book serves as a roadmap to becoming highly effective.

Let’s delve deeper into each habit. Here we go.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Covey emphasizes the importance of taking initiative and responsibility for one’s actions and choices. 

Being proactive means recognizing that we have control over our responses to circumstances, regardless of external factors. 

For example, instead of blaming traffic for being late to work, a proactive individual takes responsibility for leaving home late and plans better routes or departure times in the future.

With that said, there are two kinds of individuals: Proactive and reactive. The former takes responsibility for their actions. 

Whenever they fail to achieve their goals, they don’t blame others but themselves. 

They analyze their mistakes and strive to avoid them in the future. 

When setting goals, they prepare themselves beforehand and put in their best efforts to achieve them. 

Conversely, the latter does the opposite. They never take responsibility for their actions, always blaming others. 

They refuse to accept their mistakes, leading to repeated failures. If only they analyzed their mistakes, they could have found success.

Do you aspire to become highly effective in your field? 

If so, then the first step is to “be proactive” rather than “be reactive.” That’s what Covey preaches in his book, shedding light on the first habit.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

“Begin with the end in mind” means starting any endeavor by clearly defining your ultimate goal or desired outcome. 

It involves visualizing success, setting SMART goals, planning strategically, aligning actions with objectives, and remaining adaptable to changes.

This habit encourages individuals to envision their goals and desired outcomes before taking action. 

Covey suggests creating a personal mission statement to guide decision-making and prioritize activities aligned with long-term objectives. 

For instance, a successful entrepreneur might envision building a business empire and then set strategic goals and plans to achieve them.

Successful people always begin with the end in mind. 

They create a kind of mind map before achieving their goals. Hence, one must always begin by envisioning the possible outcome if one wishes to become an effective individual. 

Such is the second step to climb the ladder of success.

This approach gives you clarity. You are crystal clear about what you are going to achieve. 

You have the time to imagine the outcomes of your actions beforehand. 

Now, you will be more focused on striving as hard as you can to achieve your goals. Eventually, you will have achieved what you struggled for.

Habit 3: Put first things first

Prioritizing tasks based on importance rather than urgency is the essence of this habit. Covey advocates for focusing on activities that contribute to long-term goals, even if they seem less pressing at the moment. 

For example, a student prioritizes studying for an upcoming exam over watching television, recognizing that academic success is essential for future opportunities.

Putting first things first revolves around Covey’s Time Management Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Box, which divides tasks into four quadrants based on urgency and importance.

Quadrant I – Urgent and important

These are tasks that demand immediate attention and are crucial to your goals or well-being. 

They often involve dealing with emergencies, pressing deadlines, or crises. In this quadrant, you’re reacting to situations that demand immediate action.

Quadrant II – Not urgent but important

These tasks contribute to your long-term goals, values, and personal growth. Examples include strategic planning, relationship-building, skill development, and self-care activities. 

The essence of “Put First Things First” lies in prioritizing Quadrant II activities to prevent crises from arising in Quadrant I.

Quadrant III – Urgent but not important

These tasks may seem urgent, but they don’t necessarily align with your goals or values. They often include interruptions, distractions, or tasks that can be delegated or eliminated. 

Engaging too much in this quadrant can lead to being reactive rather than proactive.

Quadrant IV – Not urgent and not important:

These tasks are optional and usually represent time-wasting activities like excessive social media browsing, mindless entertainment, or trivial chores. 

Spending too much time here can detract from activities that contribute to your long-term success and fulfillment.

The core principle of “Put First Things First” is to prioritize Quadrant II activities—tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent. 

By focusing on these activities, individuals can proactively work towards their long-term goals, reduce the need for crisis management in Quadrant I, and ultimately achieve greater effectiveness, productivity, and fulfillment in both personal and professional life.

Habit 4: Think win-win

Covey promotes a mindset of mutual benefit and collaboration, emphasizing the importance of seeking solutions where all parties involved can win. 

This habit encourages individuals to cultivate relationships based on trust, respect, and cooperation. 

For instance, in a negotiation, both parties work together to find a solution that satisfies their respective needs and interests.

“Habit 4: Think Win-Win” encourages an abundance mindset and collaborative problem-solving. 

It promotes seeking mutually beneficial solutions in interactions and relationships rather than adopting a competitive or zero-sum mentality. 

This habit involves considering the needs, interests, and concerns of all parties involved and striving for outcomes that are advantageous to everyone. 

As a result, it paves the way for trust, cooperation, and positive relationships, laying the foundation for sustainable success in both personal and professional endeavors.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Effective communication is at the heart of this habit, which emphasizes listening empathetically before expressing one’s own thoughts and perspectives. 

Covey highlights the importance of understanding others’ viewpoints to build trust and rapport. For example, a manager listens attentively to an employee’s concerns before providing feedback, ensuring that the employee feels valued and understood.

This is another great habit of great individuals. They listen with utmost focus and try not to interrupt the speaker, and then they respond. 

They listen not just to reply but to understand the problem and give a response to solve that problem. Hence, if you build this habit in your life, you would become great too.

Habit 6: Synergize

Synergy occurs when individuals collaborate and combine their strengths to achieve greater results than they could individually. 

Covey encourages fostering an environment of cooperation and creativity, where diverse perspectives are embraced and integrated. 

For instance, a successful team leverages the unique skills and talents of each member to innovate and solve complex problems effectively.

This habit is about teamwork. 

As said above, all the members have unique talents and skills; when they start working together as a team, they can achieve anything they want to. 

Individually, trying to achieve a difficult task becomes arduous, but collectively, it becomes extremely easy. 

Such is the essence of this habit: Synergize. So, this habit, too, plays a pivotal role in attaining success.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

This habit emphasizes the importance of continuous self-renewal and personal growth. 

Covey suggests engaging in activities that enhance physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being to maintain balance and effectiveness. 

For example, a professional allocates time for exercise, learning new skills, relaxation, and reflection to recharge and stay resilient in the face of challenges.

Rahmat Zeb Khan, the book reviewer. PHOTO/Rhamat Khan (Supplied).

“Sharpening the saw” is a must for those who want to become highly effective in their lives. 

As time passes, we become weak physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Thus, we should exercise regularly to regain physical strength, read good books daily to maintain mental stability, and meditate and pray consistently to attain emotional and spiritual wellness.

In a nutshell, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers practical and timeless principles for personal and professional development. 

Covey’s holistic approach empowers individuals to cultivate habits that lead to success, fulfillment, and meaningful relationships. 

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Whether you’re a student, professional, or entrepreneur, this book provides valuable insights and actionable strategies to live a more purposeful and effective life.

Rahmat Zeb Khan hails from Pakistan and is a BS-English Literature and Linguistics student at COMSATS University Islamabad, Abbottabad Campus. 

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Rahmat Zeb Khan hails from Pakistan and is a BS-English Literature and Linguistics student at COMSATS University Islamabad, Abbottabad Campus. His contacts:



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