As many of you know, I’m currently a full time college student.
As I work on my second degree, I find myself taking a ton of classes I never saw myself sitting though. One of those classes this semester is called Leadership and Organization. It has been a pretty interesting class, I’ll have to admit. As the semester is winding down now, the last of our assignments are coming due. So I just had to write and turn in a 5-6 page book review. This is probably the longest review I have ever written. Since this site is a book site, I also wanted to share that review with you here.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Release Date: 2013-11-19
This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Covey’s cherished classic commemorates the timeless wisdom of the 7 Habits.One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents— in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a Review
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey promises to share with you, the habits you should employ to help you find your own success. Everyone wants to be successful, regardless if it is in business or just in life. We all look for the “key” to finding success and happiness. If there was such a step by step blueprint available, a blueprint that really held the key to success, then this type of information would be much sought after because it would be useful to everyone. Success is the main goal to anyone who runs a business or finds themselves in a leadership role, therefore this information relates to this Leadership and Organization class.
Who is Steven Covey and why should we listen to him, anyway? Well, according to his bio on amazon.com:
Stephen R. Covey was a renowned leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and co-founder of FranklinCovey Co. He is author of several international bestsellers, including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold over 20 million copies. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans. Dr. Covey holds the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.
In addition to the accolades mentioned on Amazon, Covey also had a “Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Religious Education (DRE) from Brigham Young University. He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. He was awarded ten honorary doctorates” (Wikipedia). In a nutshell, this guy was smart. I use the term “was” because, unfortunately, Covey passed away in 2012.
Now that we’ve established the guy that wrote this book had a little background knowledge to draw his information from, let’s talk about the book itself. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey is a “self-help” book. Covey states in his book that improvement and empowerment starts with self by saying “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself” (Covey, 90). In other words, by using the knowledge you gain from this book and utilizing these habits yourself, you too can become successful. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny” (Covey, 46).
That is a pretty big claim, if you ask me, so what’s inside the book? Well, a bunch of well laid out, fancy worded, common sense. This book is formatted out in a fairly easy to read step by step listing of the seven habits that most successful people employ. Presumably, these habits can help you become successful, as well. To understand why I call them “common sense”, we are going need to talk about some of these steps, themselves.
The first three steps, or “habits”, are the building blocks to anything and everything we do. This is why I call them “common sense”. Habits one, two, and three are: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. These are the basic steps to everything from school work to job performance. I’m over simplifying it a bit, but no one would ever get anywhere or accomplish anything if they didn’t get off their tails and start, and in order to do that you have to know what your goal even is. So are these habits helpful? Sure they are, but you are probably already doing them anyway and if you aren’t…well, I doubt you’d have the gumption to even look up this book much less read it.
Habit four, Think “Win/Win”, is kind of a big one in business. I think, this is actually one of the most important steps in a successful business. In essence this habit is to seek relationships and agreements that all parties can be happy with. Learn to negotiate and how to find mutually beneficial deals. Additionally, you should know when to mark not being able to make a deal down and walking away as a win. The book says that “Win-win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction” (Covey, 217).
The next habit, habit five, is a big one for leadership, in general. Covey says “Seek To Understand, Then Be Understood”. Sounds simple but too many times, especially in a leadership role, we ask our team do things or behave a certain way without much thought. We simply relay the message. The problem with getting your followers to follow your lead, is if you are clueless to either the task or the reasoning behind it, it seems unnecessary. Furthermore, not taking into consideration your follower’s thoughts and ideas on that task, could impede the trust model built between a leader and follower. I have learned throughout my own career that in order to be understood by my team, I have to be dang sure I know and believe in what I’m talking about. I have to know and understand how my team members think and look at things. Lastly, and this is the most important part, I have to know how to take what I understand about the task at hand and what I understand about that follower, and put them together in such a way that the follower is excited to do the task. Otherwise, what’s the point?
The last two habits, kind of work together in tandem and I feel each strengthen and build off the other. Covey chose to call habit six “Synergize”. The concept behind it is that the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. “Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. It is the essence of principle-centered parenting. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people” (Covey, 279). I say this directly coincides with habit seven, which is “Sharpen The Saw”. Sharpening the saw is pretty self-explanatory. You are essentially supposed to take care of yourself. As you, too, are part of the whole, a weak or poorly you is no good to the team. Covey explains this step as “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you” (Covey, 294).
The big question everyone reads reviews for, “Did you like the book?” Personally, I thought it was just ok. I do not know if I would ever go in for a re-read, nor would I feel the need to reference anything I read here. The information referenced in this book seems to be “common sense” to me and while it is nice to actually see these steps written out, for me, it just wasn’t inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I felt this book was well laid out. It was written well, in a tone that was conversational enough you could almost forget it was supposed to be educational. For me, though, I just don’t feel like I learned anything new.
“Would you recommend the book to others?” To be honest, I doubt it. I might, if that person was still in the young adult portion of their life, say still in high school or early college. Younger adults would probably benefit from these common sense tips that most of the rest of us “older folks” have picked up and learned on our own from our life experiences.
“Stephen Covey.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990. Print..