Summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by: Stephen R. Covey - a Go BOOKS Summary Guide


General non-fiction, Business, Personal growth, Psychology & philosophy

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2 mins

Chapter 1: Inside-Out

In this chapter, Covey delves into the concept of character ethic and personality ethic. Using a personal parenting example, Covey highlights that a change in perception is important if people are to achieve some of the goals they set out. He studied success literature going back 200 years, and discovered a pattern within the literature content. In the first 150 years, the literature was focused on a character ethic, while in the last 50 years, the literature was filled with personality ethic. He explains that character ethic taught the basic principles of effective living, while personality ethic taught that success was a function of personality, public image, as well as skills that improved human interaction. He expresses that his use of personality ethic to try and change his son was flawed and that the use of character ethic helped him and his wife, Sandra, to finally allow their child to be who he wanted to be. This brought about the desired change. Covey outlines the concept of primary and secondary greatness. Secondary greatness is a product of personality ethics, and while it is important, it fails when it is not held up by the character ethic, which forms the foundation. Secondary greatness is short-lived since it is founded on personality ethic, which wears out. Covey outlines the power of a paradigm. Paradigms are maps, and having the right map is fundamental if we are to reach the right destination. He uses an image exercise to express how two opinions can be right, and that an open mind is required if we are to understand other people’s perceptions. He explains that there are facts even though experiences may be unique. He outlines the power of a paradigm shift, which he describes as the “Aha!” experience when someone gets the other person’s image in the exercise. Paradigm shifts may be positive or negative, but they create a powerful change. Quantum improvements in our lives can only be achieved once we decide to work on our paradigms, which influence our attitudes and behaviors. He explains that not all paradigm shifts are instantaneous, but that they are inseparable from character. The principle-centered paradigm is likened to the lighthouse. Covey explains that principles are natural laws that cannot be changed and that they are woven into the fabric of every civilized society. He provides examples of principles and insists that principles are not values. Principles are fundamental and have permanent value. He explains that the more our paradigms are closely aligned with the principles, the more accurate the map will be. He explains that personality ethic is illusory and deceptive, and that appeals to the masses because it promises a quick fix. He explains that this is not how life works, since development and growth have sequential stages, and none of the stages can be skipped. He continues by stating, through various examples, that trying to take a shortcut results in disappointment and frustration. He outlines that a journey of a thousand steps starts with one step, one step at a time. Covey states that the way we see a problem is a problem. He explains that personality ethic calls for a quick fix when what is needed is to see the deeper part of the issue. He explains that personality ethic influences how we view the problem, as well as how we attempt to solve it. He explains that the inside-out approach is a process that starts with private victories and then moves on to public victories. The process leads to an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.



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