The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

This is one of the most influential books I have ever read. There are several very fundamental learnings that you can benefit from early in your career.

The 7 habits was written by Stephen R. Covey. He was an author, consultant, and professor. He wrote several books, but the most successful was without a doubt The 7 Habits. It was first published in 1989 and has been updated a few times since then, but is still very relevant even today. The more than 25 million sold copies worldwide is a testament to its quality. Interestingly, it was the first ever non-fictional audiobook published in the United States.

The book is about “true north” principles that can guide your life towards being happy and effective. It is structured around three parts and seven chapters.

The first part of the book is about achieving independence. To be successful you need to be able to use your initiative and resourcefulness. He tells this through three chapters: 1) Be proactive – this is about moving away from being reactive to being proactive. 2) Begin with the end in mind – this is about thinking your things through before beginning anything. This allows you to work the most efficient way towards your goals. And 3) Put first things first – this is all about prioritising your time, which is very important. To this end, he developed a 2-by-2 matrix mapping out what is important vs. what is urgent.

The second part is about achieving interdependence, but this is only relevant when independence is in place. Interdependence is a great way to leverage the people around you and get even further than you are capable of by yourself. This part is also told through three chapters: 1) Think win-win – this is about taking the long view on things and figure out a way to make sure that all parties involved are happy with the situation. 2) Seek first to understand, then to be understood – this is about how empathy can take you a long way and how you can only really learn something new by listening. You need to listen before you can act according to the situation. 3) Synergise – this is about teamwork.

The final part is about continuous improvement. And this is told through a single chapter: Sharpen the saw – this is about creating balance between the six other habits.

I read through the book a few years back and it has impacted the way I go about things at and outside work every day. At times it may seem that the book takes a lot of time to get to the point, but there are a lot great takeaways in it. I am confident that you will find a lot of inspiration in this book for your 2016 development plan.

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