The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Book Report.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, 2004.

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

[This is my book report. One of my New Years Resolutions was to read more. Brian Johnson‘s Philosophy Notes boiled it down for me. Many of these comments are generalized and theoretical. I went back through my notes and added my personal efforts and trials of the concepts. So, this post is more than a book report, it’s a life report. Things I’ve tried and what happened.]

Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Algebra comes before calculus.

Let the public acclaim flow out of our own self-mastery. I work on myself and don’t expect that others will notice all the hard work. They’ll notice later, or not. It’s not the acclaim that I’m after. It’s actually, just to get better myself and I’ll reap my own benefits and victories. I used to post all my workouts in public Facebook stuff. Now, I’m more selective. I post stuff that I’ve really, very proud of. I post pictures of other people, cuz it’s not all about me. I’m sure other people may not see that, but that’s okay with me too.

HABIT #1: Be Proactive.

Instead of being responsive to what happens around you, Make it happen. Shake it up around you and go do something. Push your own agenda and be busy on that, before other people come along and fill it with what they want you to do.

The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our pro-activity.

Do what you say you’re gonna do. Show up and do it. Be able to say no. People want to count on you. They want to know you’re reliable. Personal integrity. Start with being honest with yourself. Quit lying to yourself; that does no good.

I make it a very big deal to never be late and never miss an appointment with someone. 90% of friendship is just showing up. If you don’t show up, then you’re saying to that person ‘you’re not important enough to me to get there on time’. If people bail on me, I don’t take it too personally. They don’t see it the same way I do. In other words, I hold myself to this standard, but I don’t expect it from others.

HABIT #2: Begin with the End in Mind

Pretend you’re at your own funeral. What does the program say? What did you accomplish in life? Whom did you affect? What really mattered in your life? Did anyone ever notice? Start today on working to be that person, right now. I know what I want to do with my life. I enjoy finding new ways to encourage people to be happy and find their own happiness.

I have plans to do great things in my life and in my family. I do it all with great intention. I keep the distractions to a minimum.

HABIT #3: Put First Things First

Identify the most important things in life and in your day and in the moment. Do that. Focus and priorities.

Is it Urgent? Is it Important? Four Quadrants.

Quadrant 2 is the BEST: Let’s Exercise, Develop ourselves and our relationships


I love love love this one. It’s so clear, and it’s a diagram. I love diagrams. I live with priorities in mind. Do the important stuff first. Don’t drag feet. Don’t put it off. Rip off the band aid and work on the hard stuff. Ask the hard questions. Cuz, otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Literally, just wasting your time. I can accomplish so much when I don’t waste my time. I wake up early and workout. I watch a little TV, but not much. It does nothing for the big picture.

HABIT #4: Think Win/Win

Everyone has heard this one. It’s a huge deal when you put this into practice. What can I do for this guy and still get what I want? Everybody can win. It’s a difficult way to live but worth it. It’s a beautiful viewpoint that everyone can always win, you just have to work hard at it. Creativity, compromise, service and love.

At work, this is a obvious place to practice win/win. It’s super obvious that people like to work with win/win people. People hate to work with win/lose or lose/win people. At home, and in private, win/win is harder to do, because the stakes are higher and more sensitive. In marriage, win/win is the only way. I don’t count times. I don’t hold grudges. I never say ‘you never…’ or ‘you always….’. I give 100% every time. I know I can hug my wife at anytime. There is never ever a hesitation that I have made a decision that is the best for both of us.

Screw the unimportant. Don’t waste your time. Make it habit that wasting time doesn’t even feel good. Feel guilty about wasting time. It’s the most precious resource I have.

HABIT #5: Seek First to Understand

Slow down and listen. What is the other guy saying? Do you see his viewpoint? Do you want to see his viewpoint?

Abraham Lincoln, “When getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.”

At work, this is way too obvious to me. But, not to everyone. Many times, people don’t care and just start talking. Crazy. No one wants to listen.

HABIT #6: Synergy

1 + 1 = 3+. Working together accomplishes more than just the immediate task. It is greater than the whole.

This is a pleasure. I love this one. I find the most joy and happiness when working with people that I like. Synergy means that it’s working out together. You’re accomplishing stuff that you couldn’t do by yourself. There’s so many amazing example in triathlon. Our Club does event that I would never dream of doing myself, but together we do the most amazing things. La Jolla 10 mile relay is an example. I could not do a relay by myself, and i could never swim 10 miles by myself, but taking 6 teams from Pasadena to La Jolla and all six completing 10 miles is amazing.

HABIT #7: Sharpen the Saw

Covey tells the story of a man in the forest sawing down a tree with a blunt saw. He saws and saws. Working feverishly but not getting far. A passerby suggests he take a break and sharpen his saw and get the reply, “But I don’t have time for that.”

Exercise, meditate, journal, spend time with loved ones. Vacation, play, dance, enjoy hobbies. You’ll return to work and projects better than before.

Sharpening the saw is the fun part of life. I do this easily. I need so little encouragement to do this because this is the fun part of life. I work on making my work life a fun part too. That’s the big big picture.

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