The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 1
Summary

Covey states that a majority of people seek to have quick fixes to their problems rather than follow the working channels of problem-solving. He gives the analogy of the quick fixes he and his wife Sandra tried on their son who was mediocre at baseball. In this part, Covey states that people tend to see the massive success of their fellow friends and feel the urge to find out how their friend did it nursing the idea that they also, could follow a similar process like a quick bullet list and succeed. Covey has the problem with his marriage of a dwindling flame of compassion to his wife thus leading him to seek the conventional ways that other people use to rekindle the love life in marriage.

The actual difference in the life of people as Covey argues does not necessarily come from the outside in but in essence from the inside out. He describes the concept of inside out by including experiences on primary and secondary greatness, the aspect of seeing and being, and the perspective of people towards a problem and their solution to it. After trying the protective measures of cheering and coaching their son on academics and baseball, Covey realizes that they have a distorted method of approaching the problem. Through the experience with his son, Covey realizes that the way he viewed his son as a problem was the problem. People instead seek a personalized channel of empowering what the son can do and be giving him independence as an inside-out change. Covey adds in this part of the book that, the most objective way of making a difference in one’s life is by having a paradigm shift. Covey adds that the paradigm shift just as the scientific and mathematical meanings, in this case, is the shift from one’s perspective and point of view of the world.

Covey describes the power of a change in a paradigm which he further details as the ‘aha’ moment in one’s life. He gives examples of historical paradigm shifts in science and astronomy by Kuhn and Ptolemy respectively. Covey argues that it was not until people discovered the presence of germs that they began being keen on the treatment of a wound. Some things make one realize that their first school of thought is questionable after listening and finding out more information. Covey advocates for a society that gets to the cause of matter from which are the base for paradigms of attitude and behavior.

Seeing and being are concepts that help people to find better perspectives on their problems. Covey adds that for him and his wife Sandra to impact change on their son, they had to begin seeing him. Differently, they had to be different. Listening is also key to seeing things differently since Covey only understood the man and children at the park after enquiring what was wrong. Covey urges people to appreciate the process of paradigm change since it is a slow but sure process which in the end, yields quantum change.

Stephen Covey gives a new way of thinking as the key ingredient to the habits of efficient people. He quotes Albert Einstein’s words that most of the problems faced by humanity can never be solved using the same channel of thinking that was when they created. The latter shows that people need to dig deeper into their reasoning and rationality when solving problems since a repetitive pattern of doing something is madness. For the latter reason, Covey urges the reader not to cease exploring since its only exploration that can get people to better destinations.

In his book, Covey admits to having both internal and external struggles to the myriad of incompetency in his life. He not only feels a dire need to achieve success for him and his family, but he also feels the pressure to copycat the process of the success of his friends. Covey discloses his struggles with his weight, the lack of discipline with diet, and his manipulative tendencies of controlling any outcome forcefully from people. He also reveals his marital challenges as well as the problem with his teenage son and the daughter who cannot share her toys. This struggles as witnessed in this part, challenge him to seek lasting and realistic answers to habits of efficient people.

Analysis

The overview presented by covey on the seven habits in this part can be thought to provoke and challenge the mind beyond its limit. Covey has an experience of more than two decades in interaction with people who have achieved great milestones. It is evident that the successful people that covey has rubbed shoulders with in his lifetime have had an intense hunger for achieving personal efficiency and healthy relationships. In this part, correct application of principles comes out sharply as the critical ingredient to durable happiness and contentment. In this case, if principles are correctly utilized, habits and behavior are shaped to the direction of inside-out success and paradigm shift.

It can be drawn from this book that the human instincts firmly control habits. However, some human habits are circumstantial such that one’s response to changes in their life solely depends with the causative agents in the immediate environment. Covey feels that human beings are tabula rasa like a blank paper and that it’s up to them to put enough effort to write on the blank page which will control their lives and relationships. The lengthy process of writing on the blank page is what culminates in the evolution of human behavior and character. Character and personality according to covey are influenced differently, and the factor that plays a part in executing change to a person is the paradigm shift.

Paradigms are vital tools which act as lenses through which a person sees the rest of the world such that the paradigm ensures a deliberate sure channel of the quantum shift. It is a fact that one’s perspective of the world is profoundly shaped and influenced by their paradigm. This idea is further reinforced by Thomas Kuhn who states that people need to break from retrogressive traditions, outdated ways of reasoning and old paradigms and introduce fresh creations and new rational thinking. This consequently brings out a new understanding of the relationships between people and success. The overall idea is that the paradigm shift gyrates around the type of relations to others, attitude and the shaping of behavior.

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