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Stephen Covey 7 Habits and Me

I look around the internet and see a whole host of people writing on how The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People changed their way of thinking. Stephen Covey unfortunately passed away not knowing that he had impacted my life. How does someone you have never met manage to impact your life in a big way? That’s the power of the written word. Let me tell you about Stephen Covey 7 Habits and me.

Stephen Covey 7 Habits and Me

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People came to me (oh yes, I do believe that books are ‘sent’) at a very crucial stage in my life. It helped me to make a life-changing decision concerning my career. The book set me on the way to doing what  I am today – writing.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a group study of this book. We studied one habit at a time, then went back and put it in to practice for a month. We came back together to study another. The study included a lot of exercises, some created for us, and some that we created – a lot of processing took place. It was a time of learning, fun and good fellowship that I will never forget.

Later I read Stephen Covey’s Principle-Centered Leadership and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families but they made no impact on me and I was a little disappointed that he had turned the success of one book in to an industry.

However, that can not take away from the impact Stephen Covey created with the relevance and truth of his words. The principles he spoke of were not new, but what was new was his way of writing about them and the examples he chose to illustrate them.

Today I would like to share what each of The 7 Habits means to me:

Be Proactive – I learnt a new word for a start. Then I learnt something much more lasting – that I have the freedom to choose the way my life will go, I am ‘response-able’. The fact that I took years to learn this lesson is something else. Stephen Covey planted the seed.

Begin With The End In Mind – The powerful truth that everything is created twice: once in our imagination and the second time in reality, made me realize that I could create my own future. I wrote a mission statement of what I wanted to be, do and have in my life. One of the things I wrote is that I wanted to be an author. I can see a lot of what I wrote being created in my life.

Put First Things First – This was a new way of looking at time management. It was not just about doing, but choosing what things were important in your life and giving more time to them. This is a learning that I’m still undergoing, but I know that I’ll get there.

Think Win/Win – I learnt the concept of seeking win/win solutions to issues. Again, this is a lesson that has to be constantly re-learnt and Covey pointed me in the right direction.

Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood – A habit that has to be constantly renewed but it made me realize the importance of listening with compassion to others.

Synergise – This according to  Covey is “opening your mind and heart to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.” It helped me and my colleagues immensely as we worked on making things happen in our organisation. I know this learning has stayed with me and helps me to be good at community building.

Sharpen The Saw – This habit is something that I am much better at now then I was earlier – making time for myself and taking time to learn and improve myself in order to be a more effective person.

RIP Stephen and know that you impacted many lives – thank you.

Has your life been similarly impacted by a book or an author? Do share. 
May you be inspired – every day!


  1. MelissaTandoc MelissaTandoc July 28, 2012

    More than a book, I guess, because I’ve experienced the direction of a very cool guy whose words were compiled by the sisters of Poor Clare. 
    I also like Henry Nouwen’s. I’m not sure if I’m familiar with Steve Covey, but I am with his seven habits. I particularly like the last one. I guess that’s how many things are truly learned 🙂
    Thanks for always sharing something uplifting BS 🙂

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues August 25, 2012

      Now I want details of this, Melissa. I love Henri Nouwen too and have a few of his books. Have you read any of Jean Vanier’s? Nouwen has referred to his work in L’Arche which was started by Vanier.

  2. Claire Word By Word Claire Word By Word July 28, 2012

    I really love the second suggestion <i>’Begin with the End in Mind'</i>, I totally relate to this in terms of visualisation and find it so essential and so powerful.  Every few years I check back on my list and create a new one and although I know it works, it is always such a wonderful feeling to reflect on the things that we wrote or imagined as dreams of our future that have indeed come into fruition.
    Steve Covey  was a wonderful and gifted man with amazing insights and we are fortunate that he shared them with us and will continue to do so even though he is no longer with us.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues August 25, 2012

      Claire, I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your comment earlier. Thanks for sharing about your connection with The 7 Habits. I moved on from the Mission Statement to trying out a Vision Board this year and it’s been good for me so far. But I do like your idea of revisiting our past plans and seeing how much has come true – tells us so much about our growth, doesn’t it?

  3. SuzyIla SuzyIla July 28, 2012

    Super post Corinne. I didn’t know Stephen Covey had died. One of the organisations I worked for was a great advocate of his principles and the CEO himself facilitated seminars in teaching this book. Thanks for the re-cap. The Emotional Bank Account concept is the one that touched me the most and I try to live that with every relationship I have. RIP Stephen Covey.
    Another book that has truly inspired me and brought meaning to my spiritual journey is Dan Millman’s The Way of The Peaceful Warrior. I am sure I was meant to read this book – my eyes just went to it over and over again while browsing a book store and looking for quite a different book. In the end I couldn’t leave without buying it. Never regretted that purchase, I have read that book so many times, I’ve lost count now.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues August 25, 2012

      My apologies for the delay in responding to you, Suzy. The Emotional Bank Account is something I always considered an absolutely new way of looking at relationships after I read The Seven Habits too.
      I haven’t read Dan Millman’s book – but I know how a certain book can come to you at a time you need it most. Will keep my eyes opened for The Way of The Peaceful Warrior.

  4. Lori Lori July 23, 2012

    Aw! I hadn’t heard that Stephen Covey had died! 🙁 I too was influenced by his book. It makes me sad to think he’s gone.
    Many many books have influenced my life. For a time I’d visit the library weekly and just stand in front of my favourite section – the psychological section – and see what books jumped off the shelf into my waiting hands! I think what has influenced me most, if I were to choose one, was a tape program by Anthony DeMello called “Wake Up – Spirituality for Today.” I consider him to be my “spiritual mentor” even though he too has long ago passed on.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues August 25, 2012

      My dear Lori for some reason this comment of yours didn’t get responded to by me. I absolutely love Anthony DeMello too and have all his books. Even though I live in India, I never got the chance to attend his programs. I’m glad that you did – I’m sure you have benefited much from his teachings – as is obvious in your writing and the grace with which you lead your life. Continuing to hold you and your family in prayer.

  5. jerly jerly July 21, 2012

     ‘The fact that I took years to learn this lesson is something else. Stephen Covey planted the seed.’  well said. I can write about many books that put a seed that took me years of learning to experience. I have recently included the teaching of one such author J Krishnamurthy in my post “arriving at freedom’,. About 10 years or so ago I did read a book of his , but what I understood of his philosophy is different from what I understood when I recently read another book of his. I do believe the seed grows only when the soil becomes ready! I learnt from him now what it means to be “aware”

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @jerly I haven’t read J Krishnamurthy although I studied for a couple of years in a school run by a lady who was his disciple. I do so agree with you that our reading plants the seed and the thoughts and ideas take root only when we’re ready. Thanks so much for sharing, Jerly.

  6. floridancing floridancing July 20, 2012

    Corinne, I’ve never read this book but I’ve heard of it. After reading about the impact Stephen’s book had on you I feel inspired to read it myself. It seems his contribution to the souls on this planet will continue for a very long time. May he rest in peace.
    If I were to name a book, other than the Bible, that had a huge impact on me I would say, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It’s a book on writing and it’s a real gem.
    Hugs sweet sister!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @floridancing  Perhaps you didn’t need to read this book – as I said in my post they seem to come to us to read! I’m taking down the book you mentioned and hope I can get my hands on a copy. I’m on the look out for books on writing. Thanks, Leah. ♥

  7. Myrna11 Myrna11 July 20, 2012

    Thank you Corinne for paying tribute to such a worthy writer and thinker.  His book did have a big influence in my life as have many other books I’ve read.  

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @Myrna11 It’s so nice to hear that Stephen Covey influenced you too. I would love to have your recommendations on books that influenced you, Myrna. 

  8. G Angela G Angela July 20, 2012

    Books have always been my best friends corinne, I loved reading them, for me to read a book is like having the author of the book, accompanying me in my life, there were quite a many books I loved, and enjoyed reading again and again, some of my favourite were  Fr John Powell’s Christian vision, Dr Scott Pecks “The Road Less Travelled, Sayings of Jesus by Osho, Power of the subconscious mind by Dr Joseph Murphy, You can heal yourself by Louise Hay, and Robin sharma’s the monk of who sold his ferrari.
    Books definitely influences us and I have always been blessed and enriched by the written word, I must get back to reading, as I have not been reading much, other than what is available on net. Thanks for sharing !

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @G Angela I remember how excited you can get about a book and share it with me. I read Dr Joseph Murphy on your recommendation and it was life changing. Strangely Louise Hay and Robin Sharma didn’t appeal to me so much. Who can forget John Powell and Scott Peck of course. What would we be without these influences, I wonder, Janet? ♥

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @xs2rahulz And why not? 😉  But do tell me of other books that may have impacted you, Rahul.

  9. RituLalit RituLalit July 20, 2012

    He truly did make a difference.  I found his book very empowering

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @RituLalit Yes, empowering is the word for it. Oh, to be able to do the same with our words ♥

  10. Lazy Pineapple Lazy Pineapple July 20, 2012

    I too read this book when I was in college and just like you it had a great impact on me. It is a wonderfully written book…

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @Lazy Pineapple Good to know that this book impacted you too. Any other books you would recommend?

  11. Diana Pinto Diana Pinto July 20, 2012

    I liked the seven steps and the way you explained each one. I’m sure Steve Covey has impacted many lives.May  his soul rest in peace.Tsunami by Satinder Bindra has inspired me.It’s a great book and it shares the real-life stories of  ordinary people who faced the world’s greatest disaster and how they cope with life after that.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       Thank you, @Diana Pinto. I haven’t read Tsunami although I’ve heard about it. I must get myself a copy to read. Thanks for sharing. 

  12. Sukanya Sukanya July 20, 2012

    I quote Covey a lot in my trainings. One concept that resonated with me the most in the 7 Habits is the “maturity continuum”. His work surely made a difference.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

      I used to use a lot of it in my training too, Sukanya. It’s amazing how different things resonated with each reading. Thank you for sharing. 

  13. marthaorlando marthaorlando July 20, 2012

    I can’t believe I’ve never read this book!  It’s a must for my Kindle now.
    Corinne, I loved how you described each step as it has applied to your journey.  This made it so much more personal and memorable.  Thanks for taking the time to share this with all of us that we may continue to “be inspired – everyday”!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @marthaorlando I would love to know how you enjoy it. I’m sure the price of the book just went through the roof though.  Thank you for your encouragement always, Martha,

  14. DangerousLinda DangerousLinda July 20, 2012

    Dear Corinne,
    First I must say, I don’t think dying in a cycling accident at the age of 79 is the worst way to go.  I hope he wasn’t in too much pain.  I’m sure his family is terribly distraught, as they would be whenever and however it happened, but I think his death matched his lifestyle and what a wonderful gift!
    I avoided the book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ for a long time because I thought it was going to be a ‘slick, sensational rag’.  One day in the print shop, waiting for my order, I grabbed a copy off their book rack just to bide my time.  I fell in love with Stephen Covey!  
    Needless to say, I bought the book.  I’m not sure I learned anything ‘radical’ from his philosophies, but it’s always inspiring to ‘meet’ someone who’s actually living the ideals I dream of.  It affirms for me that it’s possible and I’m not totally crazy.
    I’m grateful for this man and the impact he had on my life.  He will be greatly missed! 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @DangerousLinda   yes, the manner of his death was sad, but then like you said, imagine being fit enough to cycle at 79 – I wouldn’t mind going that way! I love your story of finding Stephen Covey – it seems to echo what I said about books coming into our lives at a time when we need them to. 

  15. galenpearl galenpearl July 19, 2012

    Yes, this is a powerful book–I read it, too.  As for books that had a big impact on me, probably Pema Chodron’s writings have influenced me more than any other author’s work.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @galenpearl I have read of Pema Chodron but haven’t actually read any of them. Do you have a suggestion as to which one I could start with, Galen? 

      • galenpearl galenpearl July 23, 2012

         @CorinneRodrigues Yes.  Comfortable with Uncertainty is a wonderful book.  It has 108 (I think) short chapters, many of which are taken from her other books.  I think you will like it!  I’ve read it several times.  The best way is to read one chapter a day and use it as a reflection for the day.  Let me know if you read it. 

        • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

           Thank you so much, @galenpearl . I love books that have a daily reflection. I will try to get my hands on the book soon. Thanks again. 

  16. arvindpassey arvindpassey July 19, 2012

    You’ve made Covey quite digestible and understandable… well, I never actually have had an appetite for any self-help literature. However, I think anyone who is genuinely interested in the pursuit of an art (or anything else, it could be becoming the biggest bore in the world) would anyway be doing all that (and more) Covey has put in his principles.
    Quite expectedly when I look up any such list of ‘follow these principles’ I stop making intuitive effort… and begin my decline towards a zombie follower.
    Well, I have a lot of these sort books and audio-books at home… but I am very impatient with them.
    However, I’m sure Covey has managed to change a lot of lives for better through his writings. May he rest in peace.
    Arvind Passey

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @arvindpassey I understand your distaste for self-help books. I know that I too am averse to a list of ‘to-dos’. However, this is one of the few self-help books that I really devoured and attempted to practice in my life. Like I said, nothing new about the principles, but the manner in which they were presented was quite remarkable. 

  17. Amy Amy July 19, 2012

    excellent delivery… I especially appreciated what you said about something being created twice — once in our mind and then in reality. 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

      That is something that really impressed me a lot and I see it coming true in my life, Amy. 
      PS: I hope your commenting issues get resolved soon.

  18. Vishnu's Virtues Vishnu's Virtues July 19, 2012

    He’s touched so many of our lives Corinne. Read the 7 habits a couple of times and each time, it gives you so many ways to start living a better life. Seek first to understand is not just a practical habit and good life lesson but really a spiritual lesson that I imagine the Buddha teaching:) He lived quite a life and left quite a legacy and his books will continue to influence the world for generations to come.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @Vishnu’s VirtuesI agree book is a keeper and needs to be constantly re-read. Did any of his other books impress you, Vishnu? I didn’t find them to be so. 

  19. privytrifles privytrifles July 19, 2012

    Beautifully represented Corinne..simply loved it!
    I got this one as a gift and have re-read it since so many times. Specially at times when I feel lost. Each time I find a newer meaning and newer direction to move ahead.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @privytrifles I’m so glad that 7 Habits has a special place in your life. Is there any one principle/story/example in it that comes to your mind immediately?

      • privytrifles privytrifles July 23, 2012

        Oh yes. This book taught me prioritising things very well. You know after reading this book I have made 3 compartments in my mind. FYA, FYI and Trash cans – FYA is where I need to act, FYI is things which I need to know but cannot do anything about it and Trash is all the unneccesary things.
        The moment I face any problem, I only have to tag it in one of these. And automatically things fall into place later on. Maybe it is got to do with my thinking…but it surely works! 🙂

        • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues August 25, 2012

          I’m sorry I missed this comment of yours, Privy. Loved the three compartments concept – brilliant!

  20. Janaki Nagaraj Janaki Nagaraj July 19, 2012

    I have been influenced by lot many books…Paulo Coelho , Elizabeth Gilbert’s – Eat, Pray, Love ; Osho…and many more. As you have said, books come to us and yes, they have been there for me to teach me something at every point of my adult life ( that’s when I really started reading)

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues July 23, 2012

       @Janaki Nagaraj Thanks for sharing. I’m quite amazed that you took to reading as an adult. I was always under the impression that if the reading habit is not formed in childhood, it’s almost impossible to become a ‘convert’ to books. What exactly prompted you to take up reading, do you remember? 

      • Janaki Nagaraj Janaki Nagaraj July 23, 2012

         @CorinneRodrigues Corinne, I did take up reading very young…the usual…Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Asterix comics, Tintin…fiction as a teenager. But, serious reading was after marriage…and the reason is self-explanatory 😉

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