The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Study Guide

Stephen Covey

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Quotes


What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.

Part 1, Inside-Out

Covey believes a person's inner self, which he refers to as the Character Ethic, is more important than one's outer presentation, or the Personality Ethic. Aligning oneself with core universal principles automatically changes one's behavior and self-confidence and, consequently, inspires others' trust.


The way we see the problem is the problem.

Part 1, Inside-Out

Many people are content with the quick fix and deal superficially with problems. Whatever appears to be the problem is the problem. Covey encourages readers to go deeper: not merely to evaluate the problem but to observe the way they look at the problem. Is there more to it than meets the eye? Is the person addressing the problem the real cause of the problem? Such introspection can be difficult and even unflattering, but it is the only way to find long-term solutions.


Our response to what happens to us ... hurts us.

Part 2, Habit 1

Humans have the ability to choose how to respond to any situation. How one views the world depends on one's attitude, and a positive attitude comes from a sense of responsibility. Taking ownership of a situation instead of laying blame can turn a negative situation into a positive outcome.


Correct maps enable us to ... see where ... to go and how to get there.

Part 2, Habit 2

Covey views paradigms, or theories and models, as roadmaps. One can follow the map down to the smallest detail, but if the map itself is wrong the destination will never be within reach. Getting to the right place often requires shifting paradigms before starting the journey. People should look at the situation from a new point of view or examine it through the lens of a different value.


An effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity.

Part 2, Habit 2

Concrete goals provide a sense of place within the process of achievement. For example, Covey would consider "Write 30 minutes per day" to be a weak goal. It is activity based, and it will be difficult to determine if any progress has been made. A better goal would be "Write 35 pages by Friday at noon." This goal tells the goal-setter exactly what to do and provides a benchmark against which progress can be measured. It also tells the goal-setter when the goal has been completed.


The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Part 2, Habit 3

Covey is an advocate of weekly planning. Instead of listing every task to be done and then prioritizing the items by importance, he believes it is better first to schedule the things that are the most important and then fill in the schedule around them. Scheduling this way ensures a specific time slot for all the "must-dos."


Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.

Part 3, Paradigms of Interdependence

Interdependence means individuals working with others to achieve a common goal. Interdependent relationships are possible only when each party has acquired the self-respect that comes from Habits 1, 2, and 3, which together form the basis of independence. Individuals cannot have deep, meaningful relationships with others until they have that same relationship with themselves.


Be loyal to those who aren't present.

Part 3, Paradigms of Interdependence

Trust is the foundation of successful interdependent relationships. It is hard to build trust with one person while badmouthing another. Even if the speaker and the listener have a good relationship, the listener will wonder what the speaker says about them when they're not around. These kinds of thoughts breed distrust, which damages relationships.


Every P problem is a PC opportunity.

Part 3, Paradigms of Interdependence

P stands for production of desired results; PC stands for production capability. Effectiveness lies in the balance between the two. A problem with production, such as overworked employees or family squabbles, becomes an opportunity to improve production capability. Such improvement often can be done by making deposits in one's Emotional Bank Account, which means using positive interactions as the basis to effect change.


Being influenceable is the key to influencing others.

Part 3, Habit 5

Habit 5 is all about listening and being understood. When one takes the time to listen and understand another person's feelings, they begin to empathize with that person. This sense of empathy influences the listener and provides information with which to work toward a common goal, ultimately expanding the listener's Circle of Influence.


One plus one equals three or more.

Part 3, Habit 6

Synergy is the coming together of two or more parts to create something greater than the result of what each part would produce on its own. Thus the sum is greater than its parts.


To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do—learn, commit, and do.

Part 4, Habit 7

Covey sees the seven habits not as a circle but as an upward spiral. The Renewal process is what keeps one moving upward. The more individuals replenish their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health, the more they are able to learn about themselves. The more they learn about themselves, the more capable they are in establishing and maintaining interdependent relationships. The longer the habits are practiced, the more effective they become.


The key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.

Part 4, Inside-Out Again

Covey once read there is "a gap or a space between stimulus and response." The way one chooses to approach that space, either from a positive or negative viewpoint, affects overall happiness. Covey believes personal satisfaction and contentment are rooted in the positive, proactive choices made in response to all stimuli.


Is it popular (acceptable, political), or is it right?


Covey uses this question to determine whether an action taken is based on correct principles or something else. If one does something because it's "right," then they are following their principles. If they are doing something because others will like it or because it makes them look good, they should shift their paradigm and look at the situation again through the lens of correct principles.


What is common sense is not always common practice.


Covey doesn't claim to be a self-help guru or a business genius. The habits he promotes are generally common sense, and many come naturally to humankind. That's probably why they're so often overlooked. People often want a quick fix or the latest method for solving problems and thus overlook the tools they already have within. Covey claims little credit for the methods detailed in his book; he simply points out what people already know.

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