Summary of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Updated: May 3

Hello, I am Aila McPhail, and this is my summary of the book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".


Part 1 - Paradigms and Principles


Principles of Personal Vision


You need to know how you are from within. It is not a good idea to just listen to other people.


Three deterministic theories (explanations for why we are the way we are).

  1. Genetic determinism - Your genes decide who you are. (Grandparents)

  2. Psychic Determinism - Your childhood experiences decide who you are. (Parents)

  3. Environmental Determinism - Your culture around you decides who you are. (Friends, Teachers, Bosses)


Part 2 - Private Victory


Habit #1 - Be Proactive


Human have the ability to choose how we spend our time an energy. We can overcome bad habits and become better versions of ourselves.


Habit #2 - Begin with the end in mind


Everything we create is created twice. First, it is created in our minds. Second, it is created in reality...in action.


Beginning with the end in mind means that we need to know where we are going. That is why the first creation is so important.


Habit #3 - Put First Things First


This chapter starts with a question.


What is one thing I can do better in my life?


For me it's learning to use google more to help me spell words. The point of this exercise is to help the reader focus on ways we can improve our lives. When he says to "put first things first" what he means is, do important things first, and less important things later.


Next the author shares a tool for organizing life activities. All activities fall into these four quadrants:

  1. Urgent and important ... like when you have to go to the bathroom.

  2. not urgent but important ... such as exercising.

3. urgent but not important...such as someone calls you on the phone.

4. not urgent and not important...you know this one!Like Minecraft.



Part 3 - Public Victory


Habit #4 - Think Win-Win


Ultimately, success and happiness is build on strong relationships with other people. The best way to build relationships with others is to ensure that my interactions are win-win.


Win-win means that we both benefit from our relationship. This can be as simple as reciprocating good deeds; which means to return favors and other kind deeds.


Alternatives to win-win can sometimes seem appealing but ultimately result in lose-lose.

  • Lose-win occurs when you sacrifice yourself for the benefit of others. This can result in feeling cheated if unreciprocated and resentment.

  • Win-lose occurs when you try to take advantage of other people. But even if you win in the short run you really lose because no one wants to be your friend if you only think about yourself.


Habit #5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood


Everyone wants to feel understood. It's a lot harder to listen to others than to talk about yourself. That is why those who learn to listen are so treasured by their friends and family.


Learn to listen and understand others. Once other people feel understood then they are more likely to try to understand you.


Habit #6 - Synergize


Make friends with people that have different backgrounds and perspectives. It is easier to listen people that share your views, but you are less likely to learn from them and see new points of view.


Part 4 - Renewal


Habit #7 - Sharpen the Saw


Building good habits is a continual process. Keep working at it every day!


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Thank you for your interest!


Aila McPhail