The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Study Guide

Stephen Covey

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Part 1, Inside-Out : Paradigms and Principles | Summary

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Key Takeaways

  • Attempts to change one's attitude and behavior will not be successful unless one's perception of the situation is in tune with reality.
  • "True success and enduring happiness" are a result of "basic principles of effective living." These principles are referred to as the Character Ethic. The Character Ethic is universal and includes traits such as humility, integrity, justice, patience, courage, and trustworthiness. One's Character Ethic defines who a person is on the inside.
  • Since the early 20th century the Character Ethic has often been overlooked in favor of the Personality Ethic, which emphasizes the superficial over the internal. The Personality Ethic encompasses public relations, influencing techniques, and power moves, as well as self-motivational maxims. People's choices are driven by what looks good, not what is right.
  • Leaders who rely on Personality Ethic may succeed in the short term but will not build the lasting, trusting relationships of those who lead with the core values of character.
  • The Character Ethic and the Personality Ethic are examples of social paradigms. A paradigm is a theory, model, or frame of reference; it is the way an individual perceives and understands the world. Personal paradigms can include a person's values or understanding of how things are and the way they should be. They "are the source of our attitudes and behaviors."
  • Covey likens paradigms to maps. Trying to drive in Chicago with a map of Detroit doesn't work. Neither does using the wrong paradigm to address a situation. Sometimes paradigms must be adjusted before success can be achieved. This adjustment requires looking at a situation from a different point of view, not merely a change in attitude or behavior.
  • Paradigm shifts often occur during or after a life-changing experience; they are not necessarily instantaneous.
  • Principle-centered paradigms follow unbreakable natural laws; they are an "objective reality," like a lighthouse that can't move out of the way of an oncoming ship. These principles include fairness, integrity, honesty, human dignity, service, potential, growth, patience, nurture, encouragement, quality, and excellence. They can't be argued. One's own life and views are like the maps; they are not the real "territory" and exemplify "subjective reality."
  • Principles are different from practices; principles are "deep, fundamental truths that have universal application" whereas practices are "situationally specific." "Principles are guidelines for human conduct."
  • Aligning one's personal paradigms with principle-centered paradigms is far more effective than trying to change one's behaviors and attitudes.
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