7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Book Summary

I am mostly writing this summary for myself and a few of my friends, all the views are my perspective, you might have read the book and your views may or may not be different. After all, we are all humans, that's what this book is all about.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Seek to understand

  2. Personal victory before the public victory

  3. Start with the end in mind

  4. Resourcefulness and Initiative

  5. First Creation

What I liked about this book?

Trust me, the book is intense, even for someone who reads nothing but self-help and psychological books over the years. But the book is so fluidly written that you won’t even know you are learning so much. The book does something to your personality that’s beyond explanation. Everyone should read this book at least once in their life, and I can guarantee you would want to reread it.

Why should you read this book?

Most self-help books in the market are focused on "how to improve your social image" rather than "how to be a great human being." This is the same idea discussed in the first chapter of Atomic habits. To be that person, to build an identity as a fitness freak or a nonsmoker. But the seven habits go more in-depth and talks about concepts that lay the groundwork for building such habit systems.

Reading self-help books without understanding seven habits is like applying band-aid over a deep wound, will only fix the outside.

Broad Ideas from the book

Character Ethic Vs. Personality Ethic

Character is a reflection of who we are; personality is how others see us. We are so inclined towards building a great personality without fixing the underlying character. It again points to building an identity, becoming the type of person, having a set of morals and ethics. But there is yet another concept that helps us drive the ship towards character ethic, Paradigm. Paradigms are the way we see our world

“Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values.”

People look at the world from the paradigms or mental models they built from their experience, fine-tuning your personality to fit these perceptions would end up in no good. Personality ethic is a quick fix. Character ethic is a long-term investment.

List of Character Ethics

  • Equity

  • Justice

  • Integrity

  • Honesty

Stephen calls this an inside-out approach

“Inside-Out" means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self — with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.”

Private Victory

  • Being Proactive

  • Taking Initiative

  • Being Resourceful

Circle of Concern vs Infulence

  • direct control (problems involving our behavior);

  • indirect control (problems involving other people's behavior);

  • no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities)

  1. What is the current problem

  2. What is the expected long-term outcome

  3. What is the minimum thing you can do to pivot towards that direction

First Creation

Most of the things that you want to achieve are life is first created in your head. This kind of synchronizes with Swami Vivekandha's quote.

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.

Being more self-aware prevents you from being reactive to your external environment.

4 Quadrant time management

The idea can be explained with a simple image. List down your tasks into these four quadrants; you would see the work that aligns with your mission statement are in quadrant II (important, not urgent). The more time you spend on doing those tasks will take you closer to your mission statement.

Types of Delegation

  1. Gofer Delegation - where you list down the tasks and track its progress

  2. Stewardship Delegation - Where you communicate the end goal and let people figure out the way.


There are five kinds of human interaction

  1. Win-Win

  2. Win-Lose

  3. Lose-Win

  4. Lose-Lose

  5. Win

  6. No Deal

Of these, Win-Win works on the abundance mindset, For you to win another person doesn't have to lose. Thinking win-win also needs an insane amount of mindfulness and character, going back to character ethic from the 1st habit.

Empathetic Listening

Empathetic listening is when you listen to understand and not to respond. Often we find ourselves projecting others problem in our paradigms, that's what happened to me?

But with empathetic listening, you listen without reaction, judgment, suggestion.


Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When you start listening empathetically, you understand a person at a deeper level. The book calls it synergizing. In order to synergize one has to have all the above habits in place great character ethic, motivates win-win, preaches empathetic listening.

Synergistic communication is when you communicate synergistically; you are simply opening your mind and heart and expressions to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.

Sharpen the Saw

The final chapter, habit seven stresses and gives you practical ways to put the rest of the habits to practice

  1. The physical dimension - Excercise for 30 minutes every day

  2. The spiritual dimension - Meditation, reading great literature

  3. The mental dimension - Read or expose yourself to things that expand your knowledge


30 Day Test of Proactivity

  1. For 30 days observe you language

  2. Jot down things like "I can't, I won't, etc.,"

  3. Find what would be a proactive response

  4. Work on your circle of influence

The Daily Private Victory

A minimum of one hour a day in a renewal of the physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions—is the key to the development of the Seven Habits, and it’s completely within your Circle of Influence.

Creating a Personal mission statement

This is a great exercise I would suggest everyone take, the book defines it more clearly but here is my takeaway

  1. Define your paradigm, how you see the world?

  2. Define your core-values; what do you value the most(family, possession)?

  3. Define your life goals, where do you want to be?

Do the above reflections more than once and convert them into a personal mission statement.

Favorite Quotes

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,”

Trust is the highest form of human motivation

Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

“Principles are not practices, practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application. ”

"A thousand-mile journey beings at first step."

“No one can hurt you without your consent.”

I would never stop here; I would buy the book, I would read and re-read it again and again until I master the seven habits and it becomes a part of me and who I am.

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