First published in 1989, the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' quickly became an international bestseller. The basis of the text is that our character is a composite of our habits, which Covey defines as the intersection of our skills, knowledge and desires. Habits exert a powerful and consistent influence over our lives and impact directly, and daily, on our personal effectiveness . . . or ineffectiveness.
According to Covey, the 7 Habits are designed to provide an incremental, sequential and highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They represent a complete framework of universal, timeless principles of character, and human effectiveness. The habits exist on a continuum from
dependence (where we are directed, nurtured & sustained by others) through independence (where we develop physical, mental, emotional & financial self reliance) to interdependence (where individuals combine talents & abilities to create a sum greater than that of the individual parts).
In the text, this is also described as a transition from the paradigm of YOU (you take care of me; you made me do this) to the paradigm of I (I can do this) through to the paradigm of WE (we can co-operate).
The 7 Habits are cited as follows:
1 Be Proactive
2 Begin with the End in Mind
3 Put First things First
4 Think Win / Win
5 Speak first to Understand . . .then to be Understood
7 Sharpen the Saw
The last habit surrounds the other habits & makes them possible, and invokes principles of balanced self-renewal.
More recently, in 2004 Covey revisited the concept and added 'The 8th Habit', subtitled 'From Effectiveness to Greatness'. Covey is at pains to point out that the 8th Habit is not about adding a previously overlooked principle to the original seven. Rather it is about seeing and harnessing a third dimension that meets the challenge of the new 'Knowledge Worker Age'.
The 8th Habit is:
8 Find your Voice, and Inspire others to Find Theirs
This is based on Covey's assertion that their is a deep, innate, almost irrepresible yearning within all of us to find our voice in life. This Voice resides at the nexus, or intersection of our Talent, Passion, Need & Conscience - it is in effect, our 'souls code'.