The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author Stephen Covey wrote this book, and published it in 1989. The back cover of the paper-backed version states: “Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity”.

In this series on Covey’s book I will excerpt specific passages to which I will respond with personal experiences related to these passages. So let us begin.


Quotes from the author:

“I began to feel more and more that much of the ‘success’ literature of the last 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes—with social ban-aids and aspirin that address acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.

In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what could be called the Character Ethic as the foundation of success—things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden rule.

The Character Ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.

But shortly after WW I the basic view of success shifted from the Character Ethic to what we might call the Personality Ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. This Personality Ethic essentially took two paths: one was human and public relations techniques, and the other was positive mental attitude (PMA).

Personal comments:

The contrast between Character Ethic and Personality Ethic is quite evident today in national, state, and local politics. The changes are significant. Missing is integrity, humility, courage, justice, modesty, and/or concern about the Golden Rule. I blindly trusted these folks once, but no more. These qualities have been replaced with “image”, empty words meant to impress, “style”, and lies.

I worked for The Dow Chemical Company for many years; hired in 1969. It was a great experience to be associated with the company back then. The folks who were in charge were of the old guard, and came from Manufacturing. They were men of integrity, humility, and other ethics discussed in Covey’s book.

Unfortunately, in the mid-1980’s the Sales Group replaced Manufacturing. Character Ethic was replaced with Personality Ethic, and the company has never been the same since.

These are but examples of a deeper, and broader problem today. Will we ever return to the values, and principles of Character Ethics? Unfortunately no.

“Leaders are like eagles; they don’t flock; you find them one at a time”

“Inside-Out” continued in my next post

Author: maxbinkley

Creator of Leadership to the Max My experience in the military helped set the career path for me in human resources. After the military I worked for The Dow Chemical Company and left there in 1993 to venture out on my own. I purchased a small business, then a franchise then started another business in semi-retirement.

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