Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

As you may recall, in January and February, we read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey in the Indie Business Book Club. While some people think this book is just for those who are in business, that's not the case. The 7 principles that form the basis of the book are really about identifying your core values and then engaging in the repeated activities that support them.

We finished up last month, and here is some of what we learned together.

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  1. Habit 1: Be proactive

    You cannot build a solid business (or life) if you don't take the bull by the horns and lead the charge If you're not proactive, you're likely to end up with any old result, and who wants that?

    For example, if you want to learn how to use Instagram more effectively, don't just ask everyone in your favorite Facebook group how to use Instagram, try to find clues on your own by investing time on the platform so you can learn by watching and doing. Of course, you should ask for help when you need it, but at the same time, be proactive. Don't just wait for others to lead the way to the answers you seek.

  2. Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

    Covey says: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

    I experienced this personally when I had my first business – a retail store. It was definitely not the right wall for me. When I began to think about what I really wanted my life to look like, it was clear I was climbing up to a destination I did not want. Nearly 20 years ago, I moved the ladder, and today, I'm exactly where I want to be.

    Have you ever encountered a similar experience?

  3. Habit 3: Put first things first

    There are so many ways the importance of this principle is evident in business. For example, people gravitate toward me to help them use social media effectively in their businesses. Often times, they want me to tell them how to use social media to get new customers, but when I dive a little deeply into their situations, I discover that they have not identified a target audience. You cannot use social media effectively if you don't have a clear idea of who you are trying to reach on social media.

    The priority has to be identifying your target audience, and then you can layer social media on top of that as a marketing strategy.

  4. Habit 4: Think win/win

    My 13-year old son and I got into a pretty high pressure disagreement one morning while we were in the midst of reading about Habit 4. After things calmed down, I took him aside and explained that our relationship would only be its best if we both continuously looked for the win/win in every situation. I told him that it would not be a rewarding experience for either of us if I won and he lost, or if he won and I lost. I encouraged him to seek the win/win, and I promised I would do the same.

    It was a powerful experience for both of us, and I feel I made a valuable deposit into my Mom Account. I will continue to reinforce this important principle with both of my children. it's a great example of how this book is great not just for business, but also for life.

  5. Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

    In the book, Covey says: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. One of the points Mary Humphrey of Reliance Outsourcing made is how much less interesting it is to engage with a person who doesn't care what you say, but just wants to reply (or argue) with you. “The more we listen, the more we learn, and the more we really understand,” she says. I agree wholeheartedly. You?

  6. Habit 6: Synergize

    Synergize is the habit of collaboration. It includes working with two or more people toward the same goal, as you would in a Mastermind group. Synergize also encompasses the notion that the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

    One of the most rewarding experiences in entrepreneurship is what happens when you interact genuinely with your colleagues to create new ways to add value that would be impossible if you tried to do them on your own. The upcoming 2×4 Live event that I co-host with three of my business colleagues is a good example of this.

  7. Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

    None of the other habits matter if we don't, as Covey says, “preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have — you.” Why is this hard for so many of us? For me, it's because there are so many things external that need my attention. Raising kids to be good people, taking them from activity to activity, spouse, home maintenance, managing bills and taxes, meal preparation, monitoring my son as he does (or doesn't do) his daily homework, etc., and I haven't even gotten to leading my business.

    I don't have to DO every single one of these things, but I do have to make sure they get done and that alone is a full-time job. But, as we see in this habit, none of it matters — or even exists — if I run myself ragged doing everything for everybody ELSE. For me, it's sinking in in a whole new way this month.

I love a good challenge! I hope you'll join me on my journey to publish 2,000 total articles here by December 31, 2017.

Need More Support?

If you need assistance incorporating these and other positive habits into your business, help is just a click away with Indie Business University, your Success Path to a sustainable and profitable business.


Di you read the 7 Habits book with us? What insights can you share? If you are inspired by the information here, feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.