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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Learn the habits of those who achieved everything

By Stephen R. Covey
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) is the enormously influential self-help phenomenon that can teach you the principles of effectiveness. Once you make these principles into habits, you’ll be well on your way to more success, both in your personal and your professional life.

Change your habits and your life with this must-know self-help method beloved by millions.

Key idea 1 of 12

For lasting change, you have to address your character, not just your behavior.

When Stephen Covey embarked on his quest to truly understand the nature of success, he began by immersing himself in some 200 years worth of literature on the topic, starting from 1776.

Based on this deep dive, he concluded that, generally speaking, there are two ways to strive for improvements to your life:

  1. The first method is to work on the skills necessary for the behavior you desire. For instance, if you want to improve your relationships with others, you might study communication or body-language techniques.

    We can call this method the personality ethic. It’s been particularly popular since the 1920s, but, despite its sounding like a solid path for growth, it’s actually just a shortcut. The personality ethic lets you avoid working on the fundamental character traits that are holding you back, promising that some easily learnable technique will be the silver bullet for all your problems.

    Unfortunately, this promise is usually empty, and it almost never results in lasting personal growth.

  2. The second method is far more effective: working on your character – that is, the fundamental habits and belief systems that form your view of the world. Only behavior stemming straight from your character will endure over time, because, sooner or later, your true character will shine through.

    This can be called the character ethic, and it emphasizes things like courage, integrity and the golden rule. It was the dominant approach to success prior to the 1920s, clearly visible in the writings of stalwart individuals such as Benjamin Franklin.

So if you really want to change, you need to work from the inside out. If, for example, you’d like to have a happy marriage, you need to first become a more positive person yourself, not just master a few easy techniques that’ll make others like you more.

So how can you work on your character? Find out in the next blink.

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