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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 30 December 2000
I first picked up this book on a news-stand on flying back from the U.S. I found its contents so engaging and enlightening that I had read it cover to cover by the time I got back to the UK. Covey is direct and honest in identifying why we fail to make the most of our lives. He is also honest in telling us that there is no such thing as a "quick fix"; that we have to work on founding our habitual behaviours on a sound set of fundamental principles if we are to get the best out of ourselves and our fellow men/women.
I ended up buying a copy of the book for each of my fellow directors and my first line managers. Most read it and found it very useful. Some read and found it revolutionary. Some didn't bother to read it at all. In casting seed, some will always fall on stony ground.
My only criticism of the book is its title: "highly effective people". Covey doesn't really take time out to define exactly what he means by an "effective person". And without this definition it does indeed sound like he is out to create an exploitative army of principle-based, robots. However, I consider the title very misleading. It doesn't do the book justice and is rather too delimiting when applied to a profound, yet simple, philosophical work capable of changing one's outlook on life, in or out of the work-place.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a genuine hunger to improve their lives and a willingness to engage on this on-going mission in a thoughtful and consistent manner.
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on 29 April 2005
This is not the book on Audio CD as Amazon claims. This is an hour long 'presentation' that touches on the fringes on the book and should not be sold as the book. An hour of reading takes you to about 100 pages of a book so there is a lot missed out here. Maybe me writing this has made me 'Highly Effective', but I doubt it.
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on 10 December 2000
I first read about Dr Covey's habits when I was a young teenager, although at the time I only briefly skimmed through the pages and neglected to absorb, or completely understand, the principles he is sharing in his book. Having recently purchased the book and tried putting the habits into practice, I must say that personally I have found it rather difficult if not frustrating to plan my week to such a strict agenda as he suggests. Dr Covey claims that his scheduling technique is flexible, but is it? Perhaps over the long-term with regular consistant practice his technique works, something which I have not yet accomplished, but the immediate effect it has had upon me is one of irritability and rigidity rather than a sense of purpose.
On the subject of 'happiness' as described by another reviewer, I firmly believe that your happiness is ultimately your responsibility, and in achieving more fulfilling relationships with others, and planning your goals more effectively, both of which the 7 habits claim to generate in your life, I think your happiness will increase naturally as you grow in purpose and personal stature, provided you are committed to putting in the effort.
Overall, I would agree that the book can be rather ambiguous at times, and some of the habits are difficult to produce consistantly in practice. Perhaps other readers will have more success in their attempts.
Otherwise, the book is definitely worth a read, as I think some of the principles the book describes could be a valuable lesson to us all.
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on 8 October 2008
For a personal change book, I found it rather a hard read. The book to me is, well, complicated. The seven habits make sense and all, but the whole process seems to involve making layers of change, with each layer being a whole book in itself. Not a very quick read, and I'm not saying its not worthwhile and all, it's more a book that you have to be willing to work with. Readers who like less sophisticated personal change books might enjoy The Sixty-Second Motivator.
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on 8 March 2001
Let me be quite blunt - this is probably one of the five worst books I've ever read.

Last time I looked, sales figures on this book stood at 15 million plus. But just because you buy a book doesn't mean you read it, at least not all the way through. And it is my belief that very few of those 15 million buyers will have read this turgid nonsense from cover to cover.

The first red light came on as I read, in the Acknowledgement section, that Covey had based the book on work done as part of "a doctoral program" in the mid seventies. The work in question was a review of "the success literature published in the United States since 1776".

Red light number 2 appeared when Covey went on to say that he doesn't think much of "the success literature of the past 50 years" which he regards as "superficial ... social band-aids and aspirin".
If we believed this claim, we would haqve to suppose that this is actually just a warmed over summary of American success literature from 1776 to 1926.
But hang on a minute, if the good stuff all happened before 1926, what are all these references to Peter Drucker, Marilyn Ferguson, Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, Alvin Toffler, etc., etc? And what is the justification for the half-baked guide to left brain and right brain thinking?

Red light number 3 flashed on as I began to realise that I never was going to find out who these allegedly "highly effective people" are.
Which means that I have no way of finding out whether they are actually effective in any way I'd want to emulate.

Actually I guess that's not entirely accurate.
Whilst we are never given the names of any of these "highly effective" individuals, we can at least get a fairly clear idea as to what sort of people they are.

On pages 86-88, for example, we are told that being proactive is better than anything. Particularly if your boss is an ignorant tyrant, in which case you should proactively start sucking up to him before anyone else gets in as No. 1 yes man.

You should also learn to practise emotional blackmail wherever you can. Treat other people nicely, so that they always "owe you one", especially your friends and relations (Covey calls this creating an "emotional bank account"!) (pp.188-202).

Is that *really* what it takes to be a "highly effective person"?
Personally I think this book should have a warning: "This book can seriously damage your mental health" stamped on every page.
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on 20 December 2006
Before I start this I would like to stress I am not a 'tree hugger', 'management guru' or generally a 'lets all sit in a circle on beans bags with the talking stick' kind of person - In short I live in the real world where you sometimes have to upset people to get things done, the odd argument helps clear the air and I have no plan to become CEO for the next multi-national.

However ... this book is genuinely stunning. It really will force you look at how you go about your daily life, consider how you can be more effective and as a result generate more time for the issues that are important in your life. Some of Covey's ideas are a bit too out there for me and living a Quadrant 2 lifestyle is all too much! There is though a heck of alot of decent stuff in here and even if you only take 50% of what is offered then you will be better for it.

I considered buying the workbook which accompanies this book but it is a bit too 'Janet and John' for me and I instead used a notebook and pen to jot down some thoughts and quotes to consider later down the line. (Far cheaper and much more user friendly for me). Hence my advice would be take the odd note as you work through this book.
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on 25 March 2013
As soon as I got to the chapter early on which described how Stephen Covey took the phrase 'paradigm shift' from a scientific book, I started to struggle - and I've still not finished the book. I like plain talking and although I can cope with the odd bit of bizspeak, if I have to keep analysing new terms, I just give up. Not for me I'm afraid, but a lot of CEOs love it.
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on 24 February 2016
I hesitated before writing a review since there are already 600 plus who have done the same. So, I took the time to read some of the negative reviews (1 star rating) to find out what they didn't like about the book. Wow! This just proves the point that reviews are mere opinions from readers and if we were to buy into theirs, we will either be satisfied or discontent. Now, as a person whose English is not the first language, I have learn so many new words and fell in love with Dr Stephen Covey's lexicon. It felt like not a single word is wasted and each sentence is constructed beautifully while being concise and deeply meaningful.

I have read it once. I will read it a second time and underline many of my favourite bits. I have already started to implement these seven habits and they are nothing short of challenging. The work that the late author has produced is undoubtedly one of the most important literary work of our times. It's a shame that some do not see it that way, but that's their paradigm. It is futile to force your opinion onto someone else's. However, the book gives you a frame of work to emulate in order for you to become a more effective person.

Don't take my word for it since you do not know me. But if you were to buy the book based on reviews, I suggest that you read a preview and form your own opinion. As for me, this is arguably one of the most life-altering book I have ever read and I always recommend it to my friends. I am a strong believer of "the books you don't read won't help" and "the person who doesn't read is not different from the person who can't read", therefore similar books stimulate my imagination and "the 7 habits of highly effective people" has sent it into a frenzy. I hope it does the same to you when you read it and put it into practice.
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on 21 January 2005
Inspiring, insightful, clear and methodical all at the same time. Stephen Covey's system is grounded in a sound long-term approach to life management. He does not promise a quick-fix - in fact, states specifically that it may take you a very long time to work out the core issues around which you build your life. And it's true! I reckoned I knew these at the time of reading it, but now, several years later, realise that I didn't. A lot of work to be done to follow this sytem, but a worthwhile one to follow.
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on 10 October 2001
There is a bearable 300 word article struggling in vain to escape this dire book. Are you a Quadrant II self-manager? Have you attempted to shift your paradigms? Have you got your P/PC balance right? Can Covey speak in plain English for once? Apparently he can not. 'Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic', says Covey. And I believe him, if only for lack of a translation. The rest of the book is filled with illustrative stories that are unbelievably corny and vomit-inducing, even by the standards of American self-help literature. Much of what is said is impractical, the rest is unreadable. If you want to understand the ideas in this book, you are better off reading 'The Power of Focus' by Canfield/Hansen/Hewitt.
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