This blog post is my critique of the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey (1989) from the standpoint of individual, group and enterprise leadership insights.
Each critique reviews the key message of the book, the high-level concepts, the book’s areas of strengths, and where it falls short. I conclude each critique with an overall assessment ranking (1-10 ascending) of its effectiveness in providing the reader applicable lessons in personal and/or leadership development.
Overview: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a personal development and time management book that grounds the reader to their own principles and habits to live life valuing interdependence. As an interdependent person, one has the opportunity to share themselves deeply, meaningfully, with others, and has access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings. Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Covey’s book walks through the process of dependence, to independence and ultimately interdependence.
Key Message: “You can pretty well summarize the fist three habits with the expression “make and keep a promise.” And then you can pretty well summarize the next three habits with the expression “involve others in the problem and work out the solution together. “The point of his book is to build character, not attain success, through internal (private) and external (public) victories. His inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories.
High-level concepts: Covey defines habits as the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Covey encourages people to take the time to build their habits in Quadrant II activities in pursuit of their priorities. Quadrant II activities are those that are important but not urgent. Instead of consistently putting out fires, take the time necessary to identify your purpose, build your personal mission statement and work towards fulfilling that purpose. If interdependence is the ultimate enlightenment, Quadrant II activities will help you get there.
Areas of Strengths: This book is one of the most comprehensive bodies of work I have come across to-date in the area of life fulfillment. I believe he truly believes in every word he writes, and it was carefully crafted using decades of experience and studies. Each part of the framework builds off the others, and you can choose to start at any point – the public victories (for work) first, or private victories (for home). Covey offers personal anecdotes and shows vulnerability, which allows the reader to become introspective themselves.
Where it Falls Short: The book is too long. There is no overlap of content, but in order for this work to continue to be timeless for the younger generations, certain antidotes are consistently used to the detriment of the full framework.
Overall Assessment & Why: I rate this book a 9 out of 10 for its completeness, timelessness and vernacular that can be used at home, at work, and in leadership capacity (Quadrant II, interdependence, sharpen the saw, public/private victories, etc).