These are my personal notes on Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. This book touched on some major concepts that we ignore and let, govern us in many ways. All the points mentioned in this book had a strong factual base and hence were hard to neglect as just an opinion.

by- Stephen R. Covey

These are my personal notes on Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.


If you’d like to read the book yourself and support the author, you can buy it on Amazon.

United States:

Overall Thoughts

This book touched on some major concepts that we ignore and let, govern us in many ways. All the points mentioned in this book had a strong factual base and hence were hard to neglect as just an opinion. The 7 habits actually stand strong if you look at them from the perspective of your day to day life struggles. However, there were some points that seemed a little too over the top. Yout would notice my comments along the way!!

Nevertheless, this was an amazing read and was a great learning experience for me. I hope you like my rendition of it.


Describing the major takeaways is an easy job because of the well-written structure of this book.

  • Being Proactive is something that I have been practicing myself for a long time now and it has to lead me to various opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined
  • Begin with the end in mind. I have been using the principle since Jan 2020 and this is the reason for the smoothness I feel in carrying out my life. (TURE WORDS)
  • Working on activities of Quadrant 2 is something that I have started just in the mid of June, and it has provided me with amazing results.
  • Seek first to understand and then to be understood is probably my biggest takeaway from this book. I have always been the assertive type and this helped me understand my counterpart’s perspective.

That is probably it. I read a lot of books and hence from time to time, certain things tend to overlap. I am sure you’ll find amazing new perspectives to look at the world around you.

Book Notes

Italicized lines are my own thoughts. I hope you get something out of this. Feel free to comment on whatever you like!


Points Worth Mentioning:

“The same level of thinking that created the problem won’t solve the problem” —Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
  • Preception
    • If you want to change the situation then changing your self is the way out. And to change your self you need to change the way to see things, i.e, “Your Perception”.
  • Hacking habit formation
    • Knowledge—What/Why to do
    • Skill—How to do
    • Motivation—Want to do ( These 3 are required for a habit to stay and prevail)

For a deeper study on habit formation, I would suggest you all read “Atomic Habits”, by -James Clear

  • Effectiveness: The P/PC balance
    • Relating to the story “The Farmer and The Golder Eggs”. The author extrapolates on the fact that there exists a balance between “Production” and “Production Capability” In short this principle suggests you treat your employees exactly the way you want them to treat your best customer.


Habit 1: Be Proactive

From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all.

Stephen R. Covey
  • Being Proactive means being responsible and taking charge of your own life
    • People who are solutions to the problems rather than being problems themselves reach their prime with ease as compared to people who wait for things to happen to them or for someone to save em’
    • But of course, every individual is different and hence affirming their basic nature and creating an atmosphere where people can seize opportunities and solve problems in an increasingly self-reliant way.

“Use your R and I” (Resourcefulness and Initiative)

Stephen R. Covey

Compare your self

Reactive LanguageProactive Language
There’s nothing I can do.Let’s look at out alternatives.
That’s just the way it am.I can choose a different approach.
He makes me so mad.I control my own feelings
They won’t allow that.I can create an effective presentation
I have to do that.I will choose an appropriate response
I can’t.I choose
I must.I prefer
if only/.I will
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

Reactive language has some major problems as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People become reinforced in the paradigm and they keep on producing evidence to support their belief. They feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in charge of their life or their destiny. Blaming the outside forces—other people, circumstances, even the stars—for their own shit.

Circle of Concern / Circle of Influence

Anytime we think the problem is “out there” that thought is the problem

Stephen R. Covey
It focuses on have’s and if only’sIt focuses on be’s
I’ll be happy when I have my house paid off.I can be more patient
If only I had a boss who wasn’t such a wise
If only I had a more patient more loving
If I had more obedient kids…
If I had my degree…
if I could just have more time to myselfIt’s focuses on the character
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”
Proactive focus / Reactive Focus

Proactive people focus their effort on the Circle of Influence (COI).

Working on the things you can do something about. The nature of your energy becomes positive, enlarging, and magnifying, and causes your Circle of Influence to increase.

From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

React people focus their effects in the Circle of Concern (COC).

From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”
Types of situations:
  • Direct Control Problems: These are solved by working on your habits. They are obviously within your COI.
  • Indirect Control Problems: These are solved by changing your methods of influence.
  • No Control Problems: These can be tackled by the method of acceptance. To genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them, even though you don’t like them. In this way, you are not letting these problems to overwhelm you.
Practice: (From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”)
  1. For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as “If only”, “I can’t” or “I have to”?
  2. Imagine an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past experience, you would probably behave reactively. Now, review the situation from the context of your COI. Make a commitment to yourself to exercise your freedom to choose.
  3. Try to segregate problems into categories mentioned earlier and think about the solution in that context.
  4. For thirty days work only in the COI. Make small commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem,

Habit 2: Begin With The End In The Mind

Measure twice, cut once

Stephen R. Covey

No involvement, No commitment!

Stephen R. Covey
  • Begin with the end in the mind means to basically begin today with the paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference. This puts you into the perspective of what matters and what doesn’t. If you have a bigger picture in mind the journey becomes well guided.
  • In other words, this principle is based on the fact that “All things are created twice
Management v/s Leadership
Management is doing the things rightLeaderships is doing the right things
Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of successLeadership determines wheather the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

Reference in business: If industries do not monitor the environment, including their own work team, and exercise the creative leadership to keep headed in the right direction, no amount of management expertise can keep them from failing.

Re-scripting: Becoming Your Own First Creator
  • The way we see the world is completely based on the way we are programmed. We are deeply scripted and all our dislikes and likes are based on that. The type of person one becomes is totally dependent on the type of scripts he/she carries.
  • 99% of scripts are human-made and are not rigid. But we have to become contemporary in order to write the wrongs with changing times.
  • The process of writing our own script is actually the process of enhancing perception, being flexible, accepting, and recognizing ineffective scripts, the incorrect or incomplete paradigm within us. Thus, we can proactively begin to re-script ourselves.

Easy way to break old ineffective scripts and create new ones is through Visualization and Affirmation.

A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, its’s positive, its’s present tense, it’s visual and it’s emotional.

Ex. It is deeply satisfying that I respond with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control when I argue with a loved one.

Notice how this single sentence has all the five components that the author mentioned above

And if you do this, day after day your behavior will change. Instead of living out of the scripts given to you by your parents, society, genetics, or your environment, you will be living out of the scripts you have written from your own self-selected whatever system.

Personal Mission Statement

Most effective way to implement “Begin with the end in mind”

Once you have this set up. It works as a personal constitution, guiding you through life. Organizing long-term and short-term goals.

Generally Personal Mission Statements aren’t invented they are detected

Habit 1 “You are the programmer.”. Habit 2 “Write the program.”

Stephen R. Covey

When you seriously identify what matters most to “YOU”, not your parents, not your friends, not the things that just influence you. You find your Own Personal Mission Statement. This becomes your big “WHY” to wake up every morning and run towards whatever matters to you! You start to think in bigger terms than today and tomorrow!!

Best practice for creating a Personal Mission Statement is to break it down based on the roles you play in your life. Ex: Boyfriend, son, brother, etc.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Things which matter the most, must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.


The successful person has the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do.


Manage from the left, Lead from the right.

Stephen R. Covey

Organize and execute around your priority

Stephen R. Covey

The enemy of best is often good.

Stephen R. Covey

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities

Stephen R. Covey

Effective mangements is putting the first thing first. While leadership decides what “First things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is the discipline carrying it out.

The Management Matrix
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”
  • Quadrant 1: If you focus on this, it will keep on dominating you while getting bigger and bigger
  • People who tend to focus more on Quadrant 1 activities are literally beaten up by the problems and the only relief they seek is escaping to Quadrant 4 activities

So True, though!! I used to feel governed by quadrant 1 activities myself

  • Quadrant 2: is the heart of effective personal management, dealing with things that are not urgent, but are important. Building relationships, preventive maintenance, and all the things we neglect just because they aren’t urgent but somehow important.
  • Like I neglected reading for quite a while

Effectiveness takes a quantum leap when we stay and work in Quadrant 2

  • Just remember that when you don’t say no to the urgent or pressing issue, you say no to the most fundamental and important thing in your life.
  • When you let the compulsions take over, you say no to the growth positive effecting things in your life.

If you were to fault your self, what would you choose?

  1. the inability to prioritize
  2. the inability or desire to organize around those priorities
  3. the lack of discipline to execute around them, to stay with your priorities and organization.
Tips to work in quad 2
  1. Coherence: Based on your personal mission statement
  2. Balance: P/PC
  3. Focus: Focus on a bigger time frame like planning a week
  4. People: Must spare time for people you care about. (there are only a few, so I suggest don’t waste your time on people who don’t value it)
  5. Flexibility: Can be modified according to a change in plans.
  6. Portability: Always with you to review.
  1. Identify roles: Boyfriend, son, brother, etc.
  2. Select goals: Goals to accomplish in each role
  3. Schedule: Make a flexible plan (Go for monthly>week>day pattern)

I would suggest reading the book “The One thing” by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, To get a deeper understanding of goal setting and working your way to it.

Long term organizing:

Mission Statement > Roles > Goals

Weekly organizing:

Roles > Goals > Plans > Schedule/Delegate

You’re the programmer; Write the program; Run the program, Live the program

Stephen R. Covey

Consider people and relationships on the basis of effectiveness rather then efficiency. And the first one on that list is you yourself.

Don’t beat or judge yourself too much. It can turn ugly and break your flow

Instead of using a roadmap, you are using a compass.

Stephen R. Covey

This quote meanings, rather than a fixed path you are using a compass to guide your way to the goal. This is ore flexible and easy to work with!

Time is running at a pace that it has always been running on. The only thing that you can manage, is your energy. Try to schedule your energy or the amount of work you get done based on the importance of the matter, not just in the short term. But majorly in the long term.


Delegating responsibility to others, allows you to put you energy onto other high-leveraging activities, and also it increase the trust between.

Producer: A producer can invest one hour of effort and produce one unit of results, assuming no loss of efficiency

From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

A manager, on the other hand, can invest one hour of effort and produce ten or fifty or a hundred units through effective delegation.

Stewardship Delegation

Focus on result, not the method (in terms of delegation)

Stephen R. Covey
  1. Desired Result
  2. Guidelines
  3. Resources
  4. Accountability
  5. Consequences

Trust is the highest form of human motivation

Stephen R. Covey

Example picked from the book:

  • Certainly, you can pick up that room better than a child, but the key is that you want to empower the child to do it.
  • With immature people, you specify fewer desired results and more guidelines, identify more resources, conduct more frequent accountability interviews, and apply more immediate consequences.
  • With more mature people, you have more challenging desired results, fewer guidelines, less frequent accountability, and less measurable but more discernable criteria
  1. Identity a Quad 2 activity, and implement
  2. Draw the time management matrix for your self
  3. Try delegation
  4. Organize your next week around your priorities
  5. Commit to start organizing on a weekly basis if it works for you

Part Three: Public Victory

Paradigm of Interdependence

Treat them all the same by treating then differently

Stephen R. Covey
Six Major Deposits
  • Understanding the individual: To make emotional deposits, what is important to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, kinda thing!
  • Attending to the Little Things: Small discourtesies, little unkindness, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the little things are the big things.
  • Keeping Commitments: Keeping a promise is a major deposit and breaking one is a major withdrawal
  • Clarifying Expectation: Expectations are a major cause of disappointments. Clarifying them can seem a little intimidating and is in fact courageous. But, mutually agreeable set of expectations with each individual can turn all the relationships positive.
  • Showing Personal Integrity: “I really shouldn’t tell you this, but since you’re my friend…” don’t be an asshole and break people’s trust.

It’s how you treat the one that reveals how you regard for ninety-nine

Stephen R. Covey
  • Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal:

If you’re going to bow, bow low.

Eastern Wisdom

It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong

Leo Roskin

Sincere apologies make deposits and repeated apologies make withdrawals.

Deep ain’t it

P Problems are PC Opportunity:

Every P problem is a PC Opportunity—a chance to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that significantly affect interdependent production.

Change from transactional to transformation

Business reference: "One department store chain that operates from this paradigm has created a great loyalty among its customers. Any time a customer comes into the store with a problem, no matter how small, the clerks immediately see it as an opportunity to build a relationship with the customer."

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

It all begins with independence that later is used to tap into interdependence

Six paradigms of Human Interaction:
Lose/WinWin/Win or No Deal
From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

Most people have been deeply scripted in the Win/Lose mentality since birth. First and the most important of the powerful forces at work is the family and the education system. When a child is compared to another based on some dumb criteria, what else do you except?

Competitions, not cooperation, lies at the core of the educational process

Stephen R. Covey

This kind of thinking puts the individual into a defensive mode all the time. And apparently defensive minds are neither creative nor cooperative.

Win/Win or No Deal:

if a people have a real Win/Win attitude, they would stay longer in the communication process, listed to the party in front with empathy, and then expressed their mind with more courage.

No Deal basically means that if we can’t find a solution that would benefit us both, we agree to disagree—No Deal. No expectations have been created, no performance contracts established.

If you can’t read a true Win/Win, you’re very often better off to go for No Deal

From “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

Maturity: “The ability to express one’s own feelings and conviction balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of other “

Stephen R. Covey

To go for a Win/Win you not only have to be nice but also confident; You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, but you also have to be brave. Result: If you have this, You can listen, You can empathically understand but you can also courageously confront.

Abundance Mentality: There is plenty out there for everyone.

Win/Win Agreement

A Win/Win agreement should be based on these 5 elements. The intensity of each of these elements depends on the type of task and also the people involved. For eg: For a responsible person, large chunks of regular accountability checks could be reduced.

  • Desired results:
  • Guidelines
  • Resources
  • Accountability
  • Consequences
  1. Commit to maintain a balance of courage and consideration
  2. Identify the road block stopping your from having an effective conversation and do what ever is possible in your COI to solve them.
  3. Empathize with the other person and try to understand the point they are trying to draw before you start putting yours out.
  4. Identify 3 relationships and start working on them. using the strategies above

Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

To turn every transactional opportunity into a transformational opportunity

Stephen R. Covey

You don’t have much confidence in someone who doesn’t diagnose before he or she prescribes it. But how often do we diagnose before we prescribe in communication?

Stephen R. Covey

Empathetic listening is the way to understand someone, and build trust. This builds an Emotional Bank Account that creates commerce between hearts.

Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied needs that motivate.

Setphen R. Covey

If you don’t have confidence in the diagnose, you won’t have confidence in the prescription. The key to good judgement is understanding.

Ways to Empathetic Listening

Rephrase the content and reflect the feeling.

The basic concept is, the moment the conversation or the response turns emotional (More feelings attached than logic) you need to tap into empathetic listening. Make the person feel comforted and that he/she is being understood.

Layer upon layer—it’s like peeling an onion until you get to the soft inner core.

Stephen R. Covey

Most people directly start their logical autobiographical suggestive measure to the situation in a discussion. That is a very absurd way to approach a conversation and hence doesn’t leads to a result of paramount importance

  1. Identify a relationship where you can start applying this technique to build trust and better understanding.
  2. When you listen to people having a conversation, try reading the emotions they are reflecting and how they are being taken by the counterpart

Habit 6: Synergize

Synergize essentially means “Collaboration of Energies”

Here it refers to collaborating with different people with different perspectives.

From “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

It encourages the concept of widening you frame of reference and makes you more acceptable.

For some people, their Left Brain (Logical) is more dominant and for some Right Brain (Emotional). But either way, when a person has access to both the intuitive, creative, visual right brain, and the analytical, logical, verbal left brain, the whole brain is working. The results in this case are phenomenal!

Is it logical that two people can disagree and that both can be right? It’s not logical: it’s psychological. And it’s very real.

Stephen R. Covey

Long story short, the major takeaway is: Difference In perception is Good. If two people have the same opinion, one is unnecessary. It’s not going to do you any good to communicate with someone who agrees with you. Difference of opinion, is a tremendous learning opportunity.

Value the differences, also the difference between your right and left brain.

  1. Identify a person who sees things differently than you. Try to understand where are they coming from, this might turn out to be a huge opportunity for both you (or you at least) to grow.
  2. Make a list of people who irritate you. Identify the hidden reasons behind your feeling of dislike towards them.
  3. Next time you have an argument or disagreement, try to understand their concerns and position.


Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… I am tempted to think… there are no little things.

Bruce Barton

I’m trying to build strength. And that doesn’t happen until the muscle fiber ruptures and the nerve fiber registers the pain. Then nature overcompensates and within 48 hours, the fiver is made stronger.

Covey’s Friend from the gym

As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well—a law as inexorable as gravity.

Stephen R. Covey

There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.

Stephen R. Covey

Treat people as they are and they will remain as they are. Treat a person as they can and should be and they will become as they can and should be.

Stephen R. Covey

This chapters reflects on the importance of “Sharpening the saw before cutting the tree”.

  1. Make a list of activities that’ll keep you physically fit, would fit your lifestyle and that you could enjoy over time.
  2. Choose one of them and put it in your personal goal for the week. Evaluate yourself on, did you stand up to you expectations, if not what stopped you from getting there, is it something you can improve….
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with a mental activity. Maybe reading, meditation, or whatever it maybe
  4. Repeat the same with another hobby if you want.
  5. Mark everything in your journal.

Inside-Out Again

It was as if I had become an observer of my own participation. I began to stand in that gap and to look outside at the stimuli. I reveled in the inward sense of freedom to choose my response—even to become the stimulus, or at least to influence it—even to reverse it.

Stephen R. Covey

In this paragraph, the author shares an incident when he and his wife were in regular conversations on a beach for days.

NO PROBING: As soon as we unfold the inner layers of vulnerability, we were not to question each other, only to empathize. Probing was simply too invasive. It was also too controlling and too logical. We were covering new, difficult terrain that was scary and uncertain, and it stirred up fears and doubts. We wanted to cover more and more of it, but we grew to respect the need to let each other open up in our own time.

To deal only with the superficial trivia without seeing the deeper, more tender issues is to trample on the sacred ground of another’s heart

Stephen R. Covey

We are spiritual beings having a human experience

Teilhard de Chardin.

Thank you for reading✌

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