“ Powerful Lessons in Personal Change ”

by Stephen R. Covey

Book Cover

I initially rated that book 3/5. It took me a good time to digest its content and realize the value proposition behind it. It is an excellent process and a framework ; which is now central to my personal CI framework. It’s well worth a 5.

It took me a long time to get to read that book, its flavor seeming a bit too much new age. It turns out it actually presents a framework for continuous improvement.


Build your own mission statement that contains your core-principles, and how you apply them to the different circles of your life.

Apply the 3 personal habits to improve your inner self: be proactive, start with why, and be methodical.

Apply the 3 interpersonal habits to improve your outer self: reinforce your relations, be empathetic, and invent new solutions that suit everyone’s needs rather than trying to compromise.

Apply the central habit to it all: continuously improve.

Reading notes.

Self help books that focus on quick fixes and hacks don’t introduce real change (cargo cult) but just contribute to creating a personality ethic - a facade. Real change is inside out, it requires to change the fabric of your thoughts. It requires to realize that your inner self lies between stimulus and response, and that’s the only thing you can change.

Habit 1 is proactivity

Proactivity is opposed to reactivity. It presupposes that one recognize they are in charge and responsible for their lives and what happen to them, rather than be victims of others. Vocabulary of proactive people is centered on them (I), vocabulary of reactive is focused on others (they).

People have centers of influence, being proactive is helping expending them.

In the moment between stimulus and response lies your ability to chose - this is where you should think about what you want to be

Habit 2 is begin with the end in mind.

Basically, start with why. → Personal leadership

Know what is the end goal of what you are doing. People can be centered on money, friends, social circles, spouses, career, etc. to source their inner confidence, rewards, sens of worth and satisfaction. This is problematic because these are external factors that are only indirectly controlled, and so they tend to make people miserable, and are effectively inefficient at driving one’s life. Raters, one should be centered on principles that are invariant. Advocates creating a personal mission statement on what one wants to achieve for all the aspects of your life.

Habit 3 is first things first.

Personal management

Start with important and urgent items, build public trust by building private behavior first. See trust as an account with someone, you can deposit to it by building trust, and you can withdraw by breaching it. “You can’t talk you out from issues created by your own behavior”. Successful relationships require depositing to the account. Ways to deposit: listen and understand, small acts of kindness, never break of promise.

Set the expectations to make sure people don’t get disappointed

Habit 4 is think win-win.

Make deposits to the emotional balance of other people

Most things are not a zero - sum game, you don’t need for others to lose to win.

Habit 5 is seek to understand then to be understood.

Be empathetic.

People tend to listen autobiographically, with their own story in mind, and want to share the conclusions that workes for them. Instead, you should listen empathically, that is, trying to walk in the other person’s shoes. It’s sometimes enough for people to be truly listened to to fix their issues. Only after you really understand the other person’s point of view and motives should you share your story.

Habit 6 is synergize

Apply habits 1 thru 5 to finding solutions with other people

Compose solutions based on habits 4 and 5 ; when differences appear and you combine two parties’ search for a solution with a win-win mentality and empathic listening, the resulting solution might be a third view that is better than the initial two.

Habit 7 is sharpen your saw.

Apply CI to all aspects of your life.

You should sharpen all the aspects of your life (physical, mental, social, professional) regularly to maintain the P/PC balance (production / production capacity), as well as sharpen use of habits 1 to 6.

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.