06 April 2012

An MBA Book Club, Part 6

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey


There is a set of behaviors which, if practiced, allow us to achieve both private and public victory.  These habits (Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win/Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the Saw), help us to progress gradually from independence to interdependence in our quest for personal effectiveness.

Favorite Quotes

  • Production and Production Capability: The Golden Goose
  • On Primary and Secondary traits: “In reaping for so long where we have not sown, perhaps we have forgotten the need to sow.”
  •  “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”
  •  “For every thousand hacking away at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” Thoreau
  • “It is impossible for us to break the law.  We can only break ourselves against the law.”
  •  “How can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”
  •  “The way we see the problem IS the problem.”
  •  “Private victories precede public victories.”
  •  “We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.” –T.S. Eliot
  • “That which we achieve too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.  Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.” –Paine
  • “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
  • “Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”
  • “Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.”
  • “Success is on the far side of failure.” –T.J. Watson
  • “Don’t get caught up in the thick of thin things.”
  • “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe
  • “Keep in mind that you are always saying ‘no’ to something.  If it isn’t to the apparent, urgent things in your life, it is probably to the more fundamental, highly important things.
  • Delegation: Desired Results, Guidelines, Resources, Accountability, Consequences
  • “Honesty is conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words.”
  • The Abundance Mentality versus the Scarcity Mentality- recognition, profits, decisions
  • “Satisfied needs do not motivate.  It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates.” (Air)
  • “We seek not to imitate the masters, rather we seek what they sought.”
  • “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” –David O. McKay
  • “That which we persist in doing becomes easier—not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” -Emerson


What more can be written about this book than has already been written?  I’d never read Covey’s seminal work before, and felt it was a glaring hole in my reading.  That being said, the lexicon developed in it—Sharpening the Saw, Putting First Things First, etc.—was already fairly familiar to me due to the prevalent and influential nature of this work.

Covey is clearly a genius, and his work reads like one part management primer, one part LDS general conference.  In many ways, then, I drew my inspiration from a quotation early in the book, by T.S. Eliot: “We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”  (This idea made such an impact on me that it has kind of become my motto for the year, especially with my scripture study.)  This is the sort of book that begs to be read repeatedly, as a sort of Saw-Sharpener in its own right.

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