Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Georges Lteif

Georges Lteif

Software Engineer

Last Updated on December 16, 2022.
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4 min read

Who Should Read This Book

If you are looking for an alternate perspective on your personal and professional day-to-day experiences, while trying to improve the level and quality of your interactions with yourself and other people, this is a book that you should read.


In this fantastic book, Stephen Covey takes the reader on a journey of self-exploration and betterment.

Over 25 million copies sold and translated into 38 languages, this book has become a timely classic.

The book discusses 7 habits that, if deeply integrated into our daily routines, can help us become much more efficient in the way we manage our personal and professional lives.

The book starts by defining the notion of paradigms and how these dictate the way we perceive ourselves and others and therefore how we behave.

Then the author moves to discuss the 7 habits which we list here:

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think Win/Win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the saw

The author then divides these 7 habits into 3 categories:

  • The first category is aimed towards Private Victory or victory over one’s self. This is where the author discusses deeply human topics like principles, values, life goals, and managing one’s priorities.
  • The second category has to do with Public Victory and this is the opposite of winning every battle at any cost. The fundamental principle here being a Win/Win approach to problem solving.
  • The third category is all about Renewal of the four dimensions of a persons being: spiritual, physical, mental, and social.

Key Metrics

Original Content
Practical Usage
Writing Style

Quick Review



The book is nicely broken down into 4 parts that are well structured and easy to assimilate with most chapters dedicated to one habit.


The author’s style is easy to follow and communicates a positive feeling to the reader. At times, it might feel a bit repetitive.


The content is somehow original with plenty of visualisations and examples that help the reader understand the topic.


Edition Details

Hardcover available

Audio CD | Audible | Kindle

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1451639612

234 x 156 x 19 mm
432 pages


  • Self-help
  • Personal Development
  • Paradigm Shifts
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Life and Work Principles
  • Life Values
  • Life Goals



The book is divided into 4 parts and 14 chapters where each of the 7 habits is discussed its own chapter. The structure of the book is very clear and allows the reader to see the big picture right from the start.

Original Content

 The book has a lot of original content inside although having footnotes and citing sources would have been helpful. The book mentions a few scientific studies throughout the different chapters but mainly relies on the author’s immense personal expertise in the field. Many of the ideas presented seem to stem from the author’s own personal views.

General Tone

The general tone of the book is one of positive thinking and a positive attitude towards life. Positive thinking has demonstrated a measurable net increase in chances of success as can be seen from the well-documented placebo effect in medicine.

However, I am personally not a big fan of this approach as the definite way of solving life’s problems. In fact, from personal experience, more often than not it seems to set you up for frustration.

Practical Usage

The author has dedicated a large portion of the book to examples, personal experiences, anecdotes, and visualisations such as charts and tables to clarify his ideas.
Many of these tools can be put into immediate use while others may require a bit more effort and discipline. These sometimes require no less than a paradigm shift or at least a radical change in our daily routines.


The book delves deep into the realm of personal and social dynamics but does not always endeavour to back up its main ideas on rigorous scientific notions of psychology, sociology, or neuroscience. To be fair, the book does cover a broad spectrum of topics as well and keeping its size under control perhaps required some sacrifice in rigour.


Stephen Covey is the authority on personal development and self-help as demonstrated by his lifelong experience in the field. He has helped many, many organizations transform as can be seen from the testimonials at the beginning of the book.



The book can be classified under general interests, self-help.

Writing Style

The author’s writing style is clear and concise and the story flows easily. I had no problem following the chain of thoughts most of the time. It is rich in examples, personal stories, anecdotes, vivid explanations. There are times however when I thought that the explanations were fairly laboured and the content a bit repetitive but nothing to stop the reader from continuing the book.


The book is highly accessible with very little technical jargon. It does not assume prior familiarity with any difficult scientific idea. The author does a great job of explaining his thoughts from many different angles.



From Wikipedia:

Stephen Richards Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012) was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. His most popular book is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.[1] In 1996, [Time magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people.[2] He was a professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University at the time of his death.

Other Publications

  • Spiritual Roots of Human Relations (1970) (ISBN 0-87579-705-9)
  • How to Succeed with People (1971) ISBN 0875796818
  • The Divine Center (1982) (ISBN 1-59038-404-0)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989, 2004) (ISBN 0-671-70863-5)
  • Principle Centered Leadership (1989) (ISBN 0-671-79280-6)
  • First Things First (1994), co-authored with Roger and Rebecca Merrill (ISBN 0-684-80203-1)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families : building a beautiful family culture in a turbulent world (1997) (ISBN 0-307-44008-7)
  • Quest: The Spiritual Path to Success (1997) with Thomas Moore, Mark Victor Hansen, David Whyte, Bernie Siegel, Gabrielle Roth and Marianne Williamson. Simon & Schuster AudioBook ISBN 978-0-671-57484-0
  • Living the 7 Habits (2000) (ISBN 0-684-85716-2)
  • 6 Events: The Restoration Model for Solving Life’s Problems (2004) (ISBN 1-57345-187-8)
  • The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness (2004) (ISBN 0-684-84665-9)
  • The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (2006), Stephen M. R. Covey, co-authored with Rebecca Merrill; foreword by Stephen R. Covey
  • The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At a Time (2008) (ISBN 1-43910-326-7)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Network Marketing Professionals (2009) (ISBN 978-1-933057-78-1)
  • The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems (2011) (ISBN 978-1451626261)

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