Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the weekend I spent some time with a former client who has become a friend.  I listened as he talked about his frustration with his supervisor and what he perceives as random and ever-changing demands on his time.  Now, as it happens, I've also had an opportunity to listen as the supervisor - also a friend - listed out some things he wishes his staff was getting done.  The facilitator in me wants to put them both in a room and sit there with them until they work it out, but I can't do that until I am asked.  Sigh.

What I could do was bust out some learning from Stephen Covey and the masterwork that is this book.  Effectiveness requires that we complete tasks that are important, but perhaps not urgent.  Most of us (including my friend) spend the bulk of our time handling matters that are on deadline, or that involve someone who is on the phone now or standing in the office now.  Sometimes those things are urgent, but not important.  His supervisor, on the other hand, is looking for some work product that has no urgency to it. He probably doesn't really know what my friend's daily work life is like, how many things come up that are important to someone else.  Covey's "quadrants" tool for categorizing the hours we spend according to importance and urgency is more clear and more easily understood than anything else I have ever found.  So I explained the concept to my friend and - I hope - provided him with insights on some specific questions to ask his boss, a way to start the conversation about what really matters to both of them.

And that's just one of the chapters in this book.  The rest of it is just as helpful.  For a short two-page summary, written by me, click here.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is, in my opinion, the most important work of the twentieth century.  We can go to it again and again to improve the profound and the mundane aspects of our lives.  If you only read one work of non-fiction in your life... make it this one.  You'll be glad you did.

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