Since last month’s release of the 7 Habits 30th Anniversary Edition I have read it twice. Added to the 25 years or more of reading, courses and observations I have already learned and made, you may be forgiven for thinking ‘Why?’ Fair comment.
However, what I have found is that when reading this timeless book there is always something new to discover, to understand, or to interpret in a new, more modern context. This time I read every chapter, then read each again while I made notes. I made 295 separate observations, and that is far from the full number of lessons in this classic if you consider that some of my notes were ‘I know this…’ I also made new connections – correction, I recognised the connections I’d missed before – between the lessons in the early pages and their relevance to those in the middle and end of the book.
As I did for so long, I suspect that a lot of people will perceive the 7 Habits as a sequential list of things to apply to life, when in fact that is very far from the whole story. The Habits are sequential in the sense that they address the roots, shoots and fruits of effective living in first the personal and then the public senses of existence. They are easier to learn and understand in sequence, too.
And yet, this 25th year’s reading identified to me the depth of thinking that Covey put into this work over 20-plus years, because I started to discover for myself the intricate web, the extensive inter-connectedness of the 7 Habits. I saw the way each singular element impacts, underpins, and has synergy with all the others. There are no contradictions between what is said on one page, and what you find anywhere else. All is in synch with everything else. This book has an ecology of its own that is a complete parallel with nature’s own ecology. Everything in The 7 Habits ‘library’ works with, and because of everything else. And any failure in one area compromises success elsewhere.
I suspect that recognition of this ecology is why I also enjoyed his later works. They, too, extend the ecology of the original, iconic work. Just as reading the 7 Habits in its laid-out sequence enhanced my ability to understand what could be quite an intellectual work, reading the following books in sequence underpinned and extended one’s understanding of the first as much as reading the first underpins reading of the rest. It may sound a little conceited but I credit understanding this book with an increased awareness and understanding of everything I have experienced in life. Yes, it made me clever. I never wrote like this before 1995.
In moving forward from The 7 Habits, Stephen Covey gave us First Things First (Habits 2 and 3 in more detail), The 3rd Alternative (Habits 4-6 in detail), Principle-Centred Leadership and later The 8th Habit (personal and interpersonal management and leadership in detail) and reading them all – and applying the learning – covers all the principles a manager, leader and individual needs to know in life. Not just for work, and not in terms of ‘do this, do that’. Technique and processes are situationally specific but the philosophy, understanding and execution of principles, as espoused in these books, apply everywhere all the time, and these books are where you come to realise this.
Some resist reading these books, and the original in particular, because they don’t understand what they are about, possibly because they are often mis-filed in bookshops as business books. They aren’t.
They are, without a dount in my experience and opinion, the most essential personal effectiveness books you will ever read.
Anyway, to assist you in realising this and in order to enhance my own deeper understanding, I am going to spend a lot of July writing about some of the 295 sentences in my notes.
Strap in, and maybe I will convince you, too.