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Summary : The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Part I.

I’ll be extremely honest – I’ve taken months to read this book – a few pages each day, and it has been a very theoretical read. It definitely isn’t the kind of book you’d reach for on a bad day. It is, however, the kind of book you'd want to read in order to have less of those bad days. Using the habits mentioned in this book in our daily lives can definitely work wonders.


The P/PC Balance:

In the beginning of the book, the author, Stephen R. Covey, writes about the P/PC balance, where P stands for 'Production' and PC for 'Production Capability'.

He gives an example of the children's tale, 'The Farmer and the Golden Egg'. The goose lays a golden egg daily, the farmer gets happy and rich. But soon the farmer’s greed makes him kill the goose to see if he can get all the gold inside. Sadly, the goose is gone and so are the golden eggs.

"True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing assets or the capacity to produce (the goose)."

In order to give our best to the world, to our work and to ourselves, we need to ensure that the P/PC balance is taken care of. In this case, we are the 'Production Capability' and our output is the 'Production'.

If we focus too much on our work, and we don't take care of ourselves, we will soon be too unwell to work at all. On the other hand, if we only concentrate on taking care of ourselves and we neglect our work, then we won't be able to earn and live a comfortable life. Hence, the need to balance the two is vital.


The author divides the 7 habits into 2 sections:

1. Private victory

2. Public victory

I’ll be writing about the first section in this post, and the second section in my next post.


1. Be Proactive

Habit 1 says, “You’re the creator, You are in charge.”

Highly proactive people do not blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour. They take responsibility, and as a result, their behaviour is based on values rather than feelings.

The author writes that it is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens that hurts us.

“Many people wait for something to happen or someone to take care of them. But people who end up with good jobs are the proactive ones, who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.”

The author then mentions about two important concepts: the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.

At the end of the chapter, two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately are explained:

  1. We make a promise and we keep it.

  2. We set a goal and work to achieve it.


2. Begin With The End In Mind

Habit 2 is the first creation – the mental creation.

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now, and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

This concept is based on the principle that all things are created twice. First, there is a mental creation. Thereafter, there is a physical creation.

The author stresses upon the fact that if we do not develop our own self-awareness and do not become responsible for our first creations, then we empower other people and circumstances to shape our lives.

He explains about the importance of a personal mission statement and how we should centre our lives on correct principles.

He then goes on to explain about visualization and affirmations.

Another important fact the author brings up is that the nature of what one visualizes is very important. If we visualize the wrong thing, we’ll produce the wrong thing.


3. Put First Things First

Habit 3 is the second creation – the physical creation. The author states that Habit 3 is the personal fruit, the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2.

This habit deals with effectively managing our time using the Time Management Matrix.

The Time Management Matrix consists of four quadrants:

  • Quadrant I: Highly urgent and highly important activities -- crisis and deadlines

  • Quadrant II: Not urgent, but highly important activities -- the heart of effective personal management

  • Quadrant III: Highly urgent, but not important activities -- interruptions and popular activities

  • Quadrant IV: Not urgent and not important activities – time wasters and pleasant activities

The author then writes about the importance of saying “No”.

The author then explains in great detail about the Quadrant II organizer and how to be good at Quadrant II organizing.

  • A Quadrant II organizer should meet six important criteria:

- Coherence

- Balance

- Quadrant II focus

- A “people” dimension

- Flexibility

- Portability

  • Quadrant II organizing involves four key activities:

- Identifying roles

- Selecting goals

- Scheduling

- Daily adapting

“As you go through your week, there will undoubtedly be times when your integrity will be placed on the line. The popularity of reacting to the urgent but unimportant priorities of other people in Quadrant III, or the pleasure of escaping to Quadrant IV, will threaten to overpower the important Quadrant II activities you have planned. Your principle centre, your self-awareness, and your conscience can provide a high degree of intrinsic security, guidance, and wisdom to empower you to use your independent will and maintain integrity to the truly important.”

At the end of the chapter, the author explains the importance of delegation, and how the ability to do so differentiates a manager from an independent producer.

“A producer can invest one hour of effort and produce one unit of results, assuming no loss of efficiency. A manager, on the other hand, can invest one hour of effort and produce ten or fifty or hundred units through effective delegation.”


Note : I have only summarized and mentioned those excerpts which I found enlightening. Do read the book to learn about the concepts in greater detail.


Thank you for reading! Stay blessed!


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