The Valuable Applications Of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits

application_stephen covey


What else to know about the seven habits of Stephen Covey? Let us take a look, examine and compare them for better understanding and personal development.

When presenting the seven habits to the world, Stephen Covey has very clearly stated that if a person has to be highly effective, then all the seven habits need to be employed, and in a way that he has mentioned.

In short, there is no way that you can pick and choose your favorites here. You will have to implement all of the seven habits if you want to see your life heading in a better direction than where it is placed currently.

But, why is that important? If you have paid attention to the previous chapter where I laid out the seven habits for you in detail, you may have seen that the seven habits stand quite well individually as well.

Here’s the link if you want an overview of Stephen Covey’s Timeless Model.

Each of them on their own makes perfect sense, and actually speaking, none of them wants the support of the other for implementation. You can implement each habit on their own merit.

So, why shouldn’t we do that?

The reason is that Stephen Covey has a very particular pattern in arranging these seven habits. Let us look at this pattern first and then you will understand why these habits have the greatest strength when they are put into one collective whole.

Habit # Statement Interpretation
1 Be proactive. Habit of personal choice
2 Begin with the end in mind. Habit of personal leadership
3 Put first things first. Habit of personal management
4 Think win-win. Habit of interpersonal leadership
5 Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. Habit of interpersonal communication
6 Synergize. Habit of interpersonal collaboration
7 Sharpen the saw. Habit of personal enhancement

Examining the Seven Habits

The first habit, as you can see in the above table, is a habit of making the best personal choices.

You are empowered to make the right choices among various options.

This habit makes you a person in better control of what is going on with you. You are responsible for yourself; you do not rely on anyone else to make your decisions for you.

The second habit puts more emphasis on yourself.

From merely making the right choice, you get promoted to the right leadership qualities.

You are basically a leader because you think about the end and then lead yourself and others to fulfill those goals. Whether or not you have the title of a leader, you are certainly acting as one.

The third habit teaches you the virtues of managing your personal assets and requirements.

It tells you how you can do the best with the resources you have.

It communicates us how to put everything in place so that you can get to your achievements in the best possible manner. Incorporating this habit can make you a highly efficient and self-sufficient person.

The fourth habit trains you in interpersonal leadership.

It takes the second habit one step further. It doesn’t just tell you how you can be a leader, how you can guide people towards the accomplishment of goals, but it actually tells you how you can collaborate with the right people and get to where you want to go.

It is not just about the improvement of your own ideals, but it is about success for everyone. This habit teaches you how you should seek the best in everybody and create a highly constructive force that is difficult to experience when you are working alone.

The fifth habit makes one equipped in interpersonal communication.

It tells you what the right communication strategies are. It tells that communication is not just about talking, but it is also about listening.

In fact, it tells that the greater emphasis should be on the listening part because that is what provides the input of knowledge.

The sixth habit is about collaboration.

When we learn to synergize, we are learning to focus our energies in the most constructive manner. We are gathering our forces together and partnering with the right people, benefiting in the mutual pool of talent that we create and move on towards success. Thus, the sixth habit takes the fourth habit one step ahead.

The seventh habit is again personal. It is about personal development.

It tells that until and unless we do not take care of the resources that we have with us, we will not be able to make anything of our achievements, however, big or small they may be.

It tells us that we have to preserve our health—both physical and mental—if we are to take ourselves in a positive direction. It speaks of the futility of achievement if we cannot take care of our bodies.

In conclusion, our body is the most important asset, something that validates our existence and gives meaning to whatever accomplishments we make while we are on earth.

comparing the seven habits

Comparing the Seven Habits

What is noteworthy for us to see now is how Stephen Covey has brought together various aspects of our individual and social life and formulated a beautiful model out of them, a model that is sure to lead us to greater glories in life.

We see here a perfect blend of habits for both personal and interpersonal development.

The first, second, third and seventh habits are about different aspects of personal enhancement. If these four habits are implemented, then we will be able to make our choices in life in a better way.

We will be able to be better leaders, we will be able to manage our resources in a better manner and we will be able to preserve our resources in a better way, which includes our own bodies.

The fourth, fifth and sixth habits are about interpersonal development. We are not lone beings on this planet, and neither can we hope to live alone. We have to live in society.

It is for this reason that the development needs to be interpersonal. If we want to evolve as better human beings, then we should be able to create a mutual talent pool and dip into it whenever possible. This is what we learn through these habits.

Here, we are taught how we can be better collaborators with other people, how we can lead collectively with other people and how we can be great at communicating our thoughts and expressions to other people and understand what they intend to say as well.

Thus, when all the seven habits are in place, it is a certainty that the different aspects of our lives—personal as well as interpersonal—will go through an enhancement.

Our lives can be taken to a whole new level of success. The plan is all out there. It all fits neatly like a jigsaw puzzle, all of whose pieces are intact. Only, the implementation of the plan is what is needed.

This is what we shall be talking about in the further pages. In the pages that follow, you shall learn how to implement Covey’s seven methods in different aspects of your life—personal relationships, family, career building, wealth management, health, etc.

It was  mentioned earlier about the seven habits being perfect. It is only that many people miss out on the basic meaning of these seven habits. They fail to see the larger picture; they fail to realize that the seven habits can be implemented to more aspects of their lives than they think.



Master Stephen Covey’s Timeless Model

stephen covey

When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant rage because people suddenly got up and took notice that their lives were headed off in the wrong direction.

More than that, they realized that there were so many simple things they could do in order to navigate their life correctly. This book was a wonderful education for people, education in how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.

That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to show you how Covey’s book, or rather, his model, was a complete model in itself. There was nothing amiss about it.

If you implement it, there should be no aspect of your life that should go untouched. The only thing is that you have to understand these ideas and try to implement them in your life.

But, before we barge into that area, it is extremely important to understand what these ideas are. What was the model that was propounded by Stephen Covey in his mega-famous book? We shall begin by trying to understand his model first, and then interpret it in such a way that it pertains to every aspect of our life.

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits

You must have read these habits in so many places by now. However, I do not mind repeating them for you here.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Habit 1: Be Proactive

To be proactive, according to Covey, means that you have to be accountable to yourself.

A proactive person knows that something is lacking, but they do not start blaming external factors for those shortcomings. They won’t blame their parents, their family professions, their country’s economy, their lack of education, the weather, etc.

Proactive people will rise above all this. They will understand what the situation is, they will realize that it can be bettered and that’s that. They do not sit down and play the blame game, which is never anything but a gross waste of time.

Likewise, they know that they can make their choices. They can choose to be happy or sad, they can choose to be pleasant or angry, they can choose to be complacent or responsive, they can choose to say yes or no. They have every choice. They are aware of this, and they take benefit of this fact.

A proactive person will never depend on others to make decisions for them. They will analyze the situation perfectly well and then they will decide what to do base on the merit of the situation.

Most importantly, proactive people are always optimistic. They are never shrouded in apprehension.

They use sentences beginning with ‘I can’, ‘We can’, ‘We should’, etc. They do not think about the negative verbs. They do not a thing that there is something beyond them.

Even if there is something they have not achieved so far, they do not think that they are limited in doing so. If there is something they have not achieved yet, it is only because they haven’t tried it.

They always harbor the optimism that if they put an effort into it, they will definitely be able to achieve what they have set their minds to.

Proactive people are positive people. They are always sure of doing things, whether it relates to their family, their profession, their love life, their health, etc. They do not handicap themselves with limitations.

Now, that doesn’t mean proactive people always meet with success. But this is only the first habit. We are just getting started.

At the same time, you shouldn’t get the idea that proactive people are obstinately optimistic. That isn’t so. Practicality rules over everything.

For instance, if there is a natural calamity or some other uncontrollable incident, then even proactive people may change their line of thought. This is acceptable.

But, at least, proactive people will put in the attempt. And uncontrollable factors won’t faze them. They will know that there is a way out… it is only about finding out what it is.

So, be proactive. That’s the first habit. Be accountable, take responsibility. Do not sit back and think that you cannot do things. You can do them. You have to set your mind to them. This is how you start on your journey of success.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Throughout history, we have observed that it is the farsighted people who have always achieved great successes. It is these people who have become legends and shaped the world in the way it is.

Today, we see such people all around us. They are the people who begin with the end in mind. They are the people who are the diehard result-oriented people. They first think about what they want to do, what they want to achieve. The how’s come later.

Covey tells us, in no minced words, that that is not the attribute of a highly effective person. If you have to be highly effective, then one of the most important things you have to do is to stay true to your ideals.

And that is what you can do by beginning with the end in mind. First, sit down and think what you have to achieve. This may not be something as mammoth in proportions as your life’s ambition. It may be something small like a business goal.

But, sit down and think. Think hard about wanting to achieve that whatever you are thinking about. You should think so hard that you should begin visualizing the success already. You should be able to taste your achievement!

When you are able to do that, you will find that automatically everything that you do falls into place. By already envisioning what you want to do, you have already set the wheels in motion. Consciously or subconsciously, you are working towards those ideals.

Most people have it pegged on all wrong. They start with the start. That’s wrong. You have to start with the end. Think about the end. Whatever you are doing, your efforts… why are you doing them? What do you want to achieve at the end of the day? What is the end you are chasing?

When you start from that point, you know precisely what you have to do. Every waking—and even sleeping—moment of your life becomes a step in the right direction.

So, the bottom line is that you have to start from the finishing line. Look at the finishing line with complete attention and move on forth, unflinching from your path. When you have your complete focus on the end, you are quite unlikely to move away from the shortest and the most effective route you can take to reach there.

Habit  3: Put First Things First

Successful people have crossed troubled waters. The more successful you are, the more things you will have to tackle. Successful people have managed to keep the boat going by focusing on only the most important things that need to be done at a particular moment.


That is the game successful people play. They always see what’s on their platter and then they pick and choose those things that absolutely need to be done.

They know the art of prioritizing very well. And that is the reason why they are able to accomplish tasks. They are able to do the things that can take them and their teams towards success.

But, how do you decide things that are the most important? What gives you the ability to do that?

One way to decide your priorities is simply to see which of the tasks in front of you are the most beneficial, and I am not speaking only in terms of money here. See everything that is on your agenda. List the things systematically. Then highlight the things that absolutely need to be done.

Another way to do that is to decide which thing is important for the success of another thing. If there is something you could do so that another task’s fulfillment becomes simpler, then you should do that basic task first. This way, you set up a chain of events, and it becomes convenient for you to accomplish your various tasks.

There is another connotation to this habit as described by Covey. This is a simple connotation actually but has a profound significance.

This implication tells us that we should get everything ready when we are setting out to accomplish anything. That is putting first things first too.

Instead of directly plunging headlong into trying to fulfill something, we should sit down and think what we can do to in order to make the task fulfillment simpler… what ingredients or raw materials would we need?

Getting those things in order first would be an ideal way to chase that particular goal fulfillment. Once again, that would make the task simpler. Moreover, this is definitely a form of prioritization.

It is thus important to put first things first. When you are setting out to do anything, there are definitely lists of tasks in front of you. The best thing you can do in these circumstances is to decide which of these tasks is the most important and then go about fulfilling that first. In addition, when you are setting out on your task fulfillment journey, the first thing you should do is to get everything ready. This helps you do things in a much better way. The process becomes streamlined and you are sure to reach towards your ideals.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

We have been taught to win at someone else’s expense. Or, we have been taught to understand that if we lose, someone else will win. This has become our natural thought process, and we rarely do think in any other way.

But, what Stephen Covey tells us to learn is that life is not about winning at the expense of someone else… or losing if someone else wins. This is not the way successes are carved. In the world of successful people, the success has been for everyone.

Thinking about the world is a long shot, but you should at least think about the people who are close to you. To give you the right interpretation of Stephen Covey’s model for highly effective people, the one thing that is important is that you should not aim for victory at someone else’s expense.

Instead, you should think about how you can collectively move towards victory. Success, in the present times, is about collaboration and not competition.

Victory is something we need to share collectively. We have to think of the win-win situation in which everyone is a winner, no one is a loser.

We have to think about collective glory. This is not the age where a dictator could become successful by only considering his selfish gains. That sort of thing does not work today. What works is that we have to form a bond with the people we know and even with the people we don’t, and then think about success. We have to think about victory for everyone.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then Be Understood

Many self-help experts have spoken of the importance of communication. Surely, you have heard of several such methods as well. You have certainly heard how important it is to communicate with others if you want to make an effective impact on them and in general.

Nevertheless, what does communication mean to you? For many people, communication simply means talking. They have the impression that communication means speaking out their thoughts and opinions to others and giving advice.

However, that is the totally wrong meaning of communication. According to Stephen Covey’s guidelines, if you think about communication in this manner as well, then you are bound to come up with great failure.

According to Covey, communication is just as much to listen as it is to speak. In fact, when you are talking, it becomes more important to listen to what others have to say. When you do that, you are amassing information and knowledge.

This is where you understand what you have to do… what can be done… in order to solve a particular problem. This is what you need to do in order to attain your goals and be successful in society.

Remember that in conversation, listening is a method of input while talking is a method of output. If you want to enhance yourself, you should know that input is always better than output.

That is what this habit speaks about. You have to pay attention to understanding the other person. You have to understand what they are trying to say. Only when you have fully achieved that, should you go ahead and make the other person understand that. In effect, you have to hear out the other person first, and then put forth your ideas.

The correct method is first to listen what people are telling you. Evaluate the information you get.

Is it right or not? Are you agreeable to what they said or not?

You have to think about it. You have to see whether you are convinced of what you heard.

The next step is to advise if you have something constructive to say. If you realize there is a problem and you have a suggestion for it, this is the time to feel free and proffer that suggestion.

Lastly, you have to interpret how the other person reacts. You have to see what their response is, and don’t pass any judgments about what it might be.

This is how effective conversation needs to be done. Conversing is a means, communication is the end. The best way to communicate is to converse by first listening and then speaking out.

One of the most important traits of a highly effective person is that they want to find out their facts first, which they do by listening. Then they quietly strategize, and only when they are ready to do they tell people about what they have thought. This is an important quality to be inculcated. You must always strive to first understand the other person. Perhaps, this will make it easier for you when you try to establish a fruitful impression on them.

Habit 6: Synergize

Synergizing is the most effective form of cooperation. This happens when you get together with people and then work in a constructive manner. You work in such a way that you pool in everyone’s best skills and create a force that is beneficial for everyone. It is all about creative and constructive cooperation.

Look around you. The best people in the world—the richest people, the most successful people—have never been alone. They have people who have brought them towards their accomplishment of goals.

Moreover, how are these people selected? They are most often handpicked by the successful people… they are people having different talents, talents that the successful people themselves are somewhat limited in.

This ties in with the first habit of being proactive. When we started out, we made no bones about the fact that everyone has their shortcomings. Even the most successful people in the world falter at some point.

Being successful does not mean that you have to be perfect in everything. In fact, people who are really successful have just one main talent that they bank upon.

The thing that you have to take away from this is that success is not an individualistic thing. Even though we feel that some single person has achieved success, the fact is that there are many hands to support them… hands that have carried them to where they have reached.

This is what synergy is. Synergizing with people means to choose people to guide you and then collaborate with them in the best manner possible. The person who can collect the right talent is the one who goes places.

Now, every person is going to be different. You may need someone for their particular skill but you may not like the person. Or you may not like a particular habit in someone.

But, should you let that come in the way? People who are aspiring to be highly effective should not think about these petty differences. They should look at the larger picture and carry on. This is what needs to be done if you are looking for real success.

Synergize! Get along with people who have different talents than you have, and make the use of these talents. Build a collective force of talents and sally on forth. The world today is not about individualist’s glory at all. There are so many people helping each other out there. You make the most of it as well. Find the right people and seek their support. If you are looking for success, then this is one thing that you definitely cannot avoid.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

The saw here refers to the biggest gift that you have, without which you are nothing. And that is—your own body. You are only as good as your body is, as its health is, and that is the reason you have to sharpen the saw repeatedly, which means you have to be very cautious about what you are.

Covey does not just mean the physical aspect of the body; he means to say we have to enhance our physical bodies, but we must also look at the spiritual and meditative aspect of our bodies. In general, we have to make our body better. We need to look at various aspects of our life and keep sharpening it as well.

To sharpen the saw, you have to start by taking care of your health. Is there any bodily ailment that is keeping you from reaching the heights that you want to reach? If yes, then your first attempt should be to take care of them.

Second, are there any emotional or mental problems that are threatening to sap your strength? Once again, these are things that you should take care of. If needed, you should renew and revitalize yourself using whatever means are available to you.

The most important thing is that you don’t just have to be healthy from the outside, but you have to feel good within. You may probably want to invest time in some fruitful activities or a hobby that you appreciate or something else that recreates you. This is a great idea because it makes you a new person from within, full of good cheer and camaraderie. This is what you need to succeed.

In order to become a truly enriched person, you have to deal with the four most important aspects of your existence and make sure that they are in perfect order. These four aspects include the physical, social or emotional, mental and spiritual natures of your body. These are the four prime areas that you have to focus on if you want your body to assist you in your endeavors.