The Teachings of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – an IntroductionOctober 12, 2023
Today we’ll begin our journey through the book entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It was first published in 1989 and has sold over 40 million copies. It was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the 20th Century. The audio version became the first non-fiction audio book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies.
During the course of the 1990s, Stephen R. Covey became one of the most influential people in America. He was involved in the Obama and the Bush transition teams. He was also involved in the Middle East peace process of the 1990s as one of the negotiators. He was listed in Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Americans of 1996. His book was developed into a training program that has been taught in two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies around the globe.
The book has been translated into 50 languages. It really is the definitive word on leadership from a communications and time management perspective. At the end of 1994, President Bill Clinton invited Covey to Camp David to counsel him on how to integrate the book’s ideas into his presidency.
When we talk about building our businesses, the seven habits mentioned are a roadmap. We can pretty much take any problem in our business and subject it to what I call a 7 Habits analysis. These are principles that we all should try to attempt to implement in our management style and our leadership style in terms of how we run our business.
I credit this book to be the seminal writing that changed my entire life. In fact, I go so far as to say that it didn’t just change my life; it saved my life. I was in prison when my father died on June 10, 1996. After a few hours of grieving, I made a decision that I HAD TO change my life. It was my moment of clarity, my epiphany, that I had to change the way I lived and the direction I was going.
I walked out of my cell and went down to the end of the cell house. There was a room about the size of a broom closet. And in that room was a big cardboard box full of books. Law enforcement would sometimes come in and would just donate books, tossing them into that box. That was kind of the library for this housing unit. I started rifling through this box, looking for something to read. Up to that point, I’d been reading Stephen King and James Michener.
But I had never been into the whole personal development thing, you know? And it showed. So I’m flipping through that box for something besides Stephen King and James Michener. And I saw a copy of a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
And I remember thinking to myself, “Damn, if I could get like two habits of effective people, I’d be way better off.” So I took that book back to my cell, and I read it cover to cover. And then I reread it. It contained the most powerful lessons, the most powerful wisdom I had ever read in my life.
That was the beginning of the crazy end of the first half of my life. And that book has served me profoundly well in my personal and my business life. I use it for everything. And teaching this to others has had a very special significance in my life. When I got out of prison in 2003, I built my first company. And in 2009, I wrote my first book entitled The Upside of Fear.
I got word that Dr. Covey had not only read my book but wanted to endorse it, which he did on June 10, 2009 (the 13th anniversary of my father’s passing). And later, I would get a chance to work with him and become friends. And it was just a very, very powerful experience. He had a profound impact on my life before he passed away in 2012.
Next week, we’ll start a journey reviewing these habits that have changed not just my life’s direction, but likely many of the 40 million people whose eyes have read it as well.