In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity – principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
Covey’s best-known book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication in 1989. The audio version became the first non-fiction audio-book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies. Covey argues against what he calls “The Personality Ethic”, something he sees as prevalent in many modern self-help books. He promotes what he labels “The Character Ethic”: aligning one’s values with so-called “universal and timeless” principles. Covey adamantly refuses to conflate principles and values; he sees principles as external natural laws, while values remain internal and subjective. Covey proclaims that values govern people’s behavior, but principles ultimately determine the consequences. Covey presents his teachings in a series of habits, manifesting as a progression from dependence via independence to interdependence.
Covey’s Seven Habits are easy to understand, but like all the best and simplest models, can be a little more difficult to apply in practice. The ‘Habits’ seem very simple, and in many ways they are, yet to varying degrees they may entail quite serious changes to thinking and acting.
The ‘Seven Habits’ are a remarkable set of inspirational and aspirational standards for anyone who seeks to live a full, purposeful and good life, and are applicable today more than ever, as the business world – and life beyond business and work – become more attuned to humanist concepts.
Covey’s values are full of integrity and humanity, and contrast strongly with the authority-driven process-based ideologies that characterize management and leadership thinking in earlier times. Indeed Covey’s methods extend and adapt with increasing relevance to many more areas in the modern world, for example parenting, relationships, mediation, counselling, etc.
Covey produced a substantial body of educational and teaching work. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was his first significantly popular creation, and probably remains his greatest.