Rereading a Modern Self-Help Classic: Lessons from ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’

The basic premise of self-help books has, arguably, been around for a long time. There are, for example, books that have been written more than 2,000 years ago, such as the Greek Epictetus’ “The Art of Living,” and the work of the Roman author Marcus Aurelius, which can be and are read in a self-help-like fashion (although others tend to treat these works as part of the philosophical cannon).

More recently, in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the so-called self-help industry took off, proving that there is a great demand for self-help books. One book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by author Steven Covey has become a modern classic within the self-help genre. The book continues to get used in therapy and business settings alike.

One reason for its continued appeal is for the highly practical advice it offers as well as the topic: good habit-making is something most self-disciplined and self-exploratory individuals are seeking.

“Our character,” Covey writes, “basically is a composite of our habits.”

So, what are Covey’s famous seven highly habits?

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win/win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

The author explores these habits in the detailed chapters that compose the book. And, let’s be honest . . . building good habits is prized in our careers as well as in our personal affairs, which is why giving Covey’s book a second look is a worthwhile endeavor.

On Habit No. 2, Covey writes: “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

Defining and practicing good habits remains a goal that each individual ought to seek. That said Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” remains a modern self-help classic that belongs in your personal book collection.


Covey, S. R. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Simon and Schuster. New York, NY.

Brooke Lamberti

Brooke Lamberti is a content writer based out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Marywood University, and has prior career experience working in social work and domestic violence advocacy. She has a passion for writing and helping others.

Leave a Comment