Those of you who are keen to read books on self development, you should not miss ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey, first published in 1989 and since then sold over 15 million copies and translated in many languages. What makes this book unique amongst other self-development books? Simple, it touches the right chord that governs one’s actions. It has everything that would normally take a semester for us to learn in B-schools. As the blurb says, the author presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach for solving personal and professional problems.

Covey suggests simple practicable and easy to follow techniques which should form as our habits. The seven habits are – 1. Be Proactive (Principles of personal vision) 2. Begin with the end in Mind (Principles of Personal Leadership) 3. Put things First (Principles of personal Management) 4. Think win/win (Principles of interpersonal Leadership) 5. Seek first to understand, Then to be understood (Principles of empathetic Communication) 6. Synergize (Principles of Creative Cooperation 7. Sharpen the Saw (Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal).

Covey makes clear that an individual must make a paradigm shift before incorporating these habits into his/her own personal life. A paradigm is essentially the way an individual perceives something. Covey emphasizes that if we want to make a change in our lives, we should probably first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviours. He applies different examples via family, business, and society in general. This book’s central theme is the approach to obtain personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Covey points out that private victories precede public victories. He makes an example that making and keeping promises to ourselves comes before making and keeping promises to others.

The significant part of this book is, even the complex psychological and fundamental issues (which are purely academic) have been dealt with ease to enable everyone to understand the concepts easily. Every concept is backed by supportive elements like a practical story or an anecdote. Each habit can be read separately and again and again. At the end of each habit, there are application suggestions or exercises that help you become a more effective person.

The author explains how each chapter in the book to be read. He wants the reader to involve in what he is reading. The reader should shift from the role of a learner to that of a teacher (read as if you are going to teach what you have learnt to your children, spouse or friends). He further suggests that while reading one should take inside-outside approach and read with the purpose in mind of sharing or discussing what you learn with someone else within 24 hours after you learn it. This will make a difference in material and emotional process of the reader. If we apply this technique we not only remember what we read, but our perspective will expand, and our motivation to apply the material increase.

This is a must-read book.

G. Olivannan

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