Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989. Selling more than 25 million copies, Covey has clearly been one of the most widely read leadership and management thinkers over the past 30 years. The 7 Habits has been published in 38 languages and Covey was named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans.
What makes this book really popular?
- The concepts, ideas and principles which Covey presents in the 7 Habits are coherent and build upon each other perfectly. The overall system of all the principles seems intrinsically logical, though not necessarily applicable to all. I personally found this book incredibly insightful.
- Much care was put into the publishing and writing of this book, which is one reason why the book is so well received. I find myself distracted while reading a book that is poorly organized. The 7 Habits points are supported by examples and the book contains plenty of tables, figures and pictures to help illustrate the ideas.
- The messages in the book are further underlined, as the description of every habit starts with a proverb and ends with suggestions for applications.
As I continued reading, however, I had some reservations about the material:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is not full of action points one can immediately implement; instead, it’s intended to provide a framework of reflection on one’s life from the personal to the professional.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is more philosophical in nature than many other personal development books. The average individual does not actively seek answers to the deep questions answered in the book. And for the average individual to pick up this book and actively participate in its teachings, that individual would have a degree of self-awareness already.
- This book might be at the same time full of inspiration to some people while completely irrelevant to others. For example, if we look at the many successful musicians, actors and sports stars out there, a big chunk of them exhibits traits completely opposite to the 7 Habits while still have influence and sense of accomplishment.
- In the era of artificial intelligence (AI) that has diminished interpersonal communication and interfered with those habits, will the 7 Habits that Covey set forth in his book still be relevant in the future?
There are many who want to be like Stephen Covey. There are many who didn’t like the way his ideas were expressed or applied. But Stephen was a man who was in the arena trying to teach and make a difference.