Review of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by S. Covey

Despite the corny title, which has spawned a whole genre of ‘the seven ways/steps/habits to become rich/successful/powerful’ books, this is a strong reading for those interested in coaching and self-development. It proposes the idea of integrity, consistency and an ethic approach being at the heart of every genuinely effective person, rather than greed and preoccupation with material wealth. Certain ideas, such as the crucial role of Quadrant II habits (attaching importance to activities that are not urgent, but important on long term as they contribute to one’s personal vision and values) are still very relevant; they could invite for an approach that favours substance and a long-term vision instead of regarding the completion of day-to-day tasks as a tick-box exercise. There is also the simple, but powerful idea of interdependence (considering the needs of others in your approach, including in business transactions) as the ultimate value, rather than the much more lauded in western societies value of independence. The latter is considered here as a transitional stage on the way to higher levels of effectiveness and self-fulfilment.

OtherĀ areas of the book I found less appealing, such as the insistence on the use of jargon words such as ‘synergize’ instead of the much simpler and -ironically- effective word ‘collaborate’. There is also the tendency to ‘psychologize’ in certain sections, seeking for deeper psychological explanations for phenomena that are probably much simpler to describe (case in point the utter tedious part where the author describes how his wife’s confession of the reasons behind her preoccupation with Frigidaire led to deeper levels of communication in their relationship). However don’t let this spoil the reading pleasure, this is a book from which most readers can probably learn and retain elements, whether this is in their personal lives, at work or elsewhere.

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