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Becoming an Effective Person: Overview

I’ve been reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It’s my second reading of the work - my first reading was early last year but with the stress of my father’s death I didn’t absorb any of the material.

There’s a lot to review and comment on so I’ll be writing my notes in sections.

According to Covey, the field of success literature began with an emphasis on building character (fidelity, integrity, humility, etc). However post WWI the field turned toward a cult of personality and most modern success literature addresses the superficial of social relations like how to get people to like you and how to build your “brand”. Covey criticizes this new paradigm and reminds us that social ethics are secondary success factors; we can only experience true success and enduring happiness if we have a foundation of underlying character.

“Search your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” RW Emerson

Principles are fundamental truths. Covey stresses that we must focus on principles and internalize them as habits and then growth and success will follow. The closer our lives align to principles the more successful we will be.

Living a life according to principles is a habit and takes practice just as learning to play the piano does. Character is simply a composite of our habits.

“Private victories precede public victories.” Stephen Covey

Stages of Responsibility and Effectiveness:

1. Dependence: everyone else must look out for me.

2. Independence: I look out for myself.

3. Interdependence: We look out for each other.

We develop our character habits to move from dependence to independence. Then we build on that foundation to move to functioning at an interdependence level.

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