Is This 30 Year Old Book About Success Still Worth Reading?

Stephen Covey’s book (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) is known far and wide by entrepreneurs, CEOs, and anybody looking for success in their life, you always hear this book being recommended by the world’s highest achievers but is the information in it still relevant in this day and age?

Spoiler Alert: IT IS!

In my article I will skip past the actual 7 habits (sounds crazy I know, but bare with me) and focus on what covey describes as a successful person, because getting you to think about this is the actual purpose of the book. These are timeless ideas that have been around forever and will stick around in the future even after me and you are long gone.

With these ideas, there will be no limit to what you can achieve and you can even rest easy knowing that all of these revolve around achieving success with a clean conscience.

The Ideal Successful Person

People tend to follow leaders who they think possess the characteristic of “integrity,” this means having the strength to withstand change because you follow certain unchanging principles that allow you to not be caught off guard by shifting circumstances like everyone else does.

The person with integrity, has values they don’t stray from, are a good listener, has good intentions for the people around them and are always trying to understand the world. In other words, the ideal successful person is more concerned with being a great person than a great success.

It sounds backwards because in our society we are so entranced by a more cartoony and exaggerated idea of “success,” the idea that we should have money and power beyond that of our peers and all of our wants should be granted as a result of a higher social position.

Our society has forgotten what actually creates the people who are successes and only sees (or only wants to see) the more glamorous benefits.

The main idea of the book is this: before we can become a person that achieves something great, we must first figure out what that person is like.

Stephen Covey’s Character Traits of The Most Successful People

  • They make commitments and they keep their promises
  • They admit their mistakes quickly and to everyone
  • They know there is a space between an action and a re-action, so they have control over their emotions and don’t get overcome by them
  • They value time and understand that success is just being yourself in an organized way
  • Most importantly, they are willing to do what other people won’t, to achieve what other people can’t

Covey goes on to say that successful people must have the ability to change perspectives on things, because you are not growing if you are not constantly seeing things in a different light.

Think of it this way, would the world be the way it is now if we had maintained the idea that the universe revolved around the earth instead of the earth revolving around the sun?

What if we stuck to the idea that we could only use horses to get around and that a horseless carriage was a fantasy from a children’s book?

What if we never tried to launch rockets into space, would we have cellphones or GPS or the internet?

By being flexible with our perspective on whats possible, we make room in our minds for achieving what was first thought of as impossible. You move from following the “rules of the world” to creating new ones.

Seeing In A New Way

A perspective is a lens through which you see the world, the liberal sees the world as being corrupted by business and greed, the conservative sees it as being corrupted by laziness and entitlement, the old don’t like how far young people stray from traditional values and the young don’t like how old people hold back progress because of their ancient beliefs.

In order to have the best shot at success in life we must be able and willing to adapt our perspective to what our current situation needs.

For example. when I first started out my adventure in business I was so lazy and unorganized that I would try to find ways of doing the least amount of work I could get away with, but as you may have guessed, by doing no real work I didn’t have a real business.

So I needed a new perspective, I looked at how the most successful people in our society think and they all said that you must do more work than what you think is required if you want to get anywhere and if you want to be successful then you must always over deliver to the people you serve.

New perspectives change everything because you then find different reasons, ideas, and beliefs that help you get the results you want. So if you ever run into a problem, try changing your perspective on it by looking at what the people at a higher level than you think.

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at the time when we created them.

Albert Einstein

Where Habits Come In

Small changes in life like attitude can affect small problems but in order to make big changes in your life you must fundamentally change who you are as a person.

By becoming a different person (which could really only be a better version of ourselves), we will attack problems in a totally different way but this doesn’t happen overnight and it is not something that is easy to do.

This is why covey puts importance on the 7 habits because habits are the way by which we change ourselves, what we do and think about all the time are what makes us who we are and becomes the perspective we use to see things.

The Importance of Planning

You cannot achieve success just by “winging it” you have to be very methodical in how you go about running your business, you have to know exactly what each project is gonna take to get accomplished and plan around it.

If you’ve ever heard of the Mike Tyson quote “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,” covey addresses this concern by saying that while you can’t prevent life throwing curve balls and ruining your plans, by taking action in a certain direction, you will eventually end up where you want because your life is shaped by the direction of actions you take and the habits you have.

You will always get what you put in, as person, a business, or an organization.

In Conclusion

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is more than just a book about some habits you should have, it is at it’s core a book about what it takes to achieve lasting success as a person in this world and also be fulfilled at the same time.

Not only is it one of the best selling books of all time, it is also one of the most challenging to integrate into your life because of how much it will ask you to change about yourself, but if you do decide to read it and practice what it teaches remember that you are changing yourself for the better.

Further Reading

Originally published at on April 3, 2019.

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