The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey


The Living Force
The ideas presented in the book are so it's clear, and in principle simple, that I found it very refreshing to read.

Has anyone practiced the weekly planning structures provided and how did you find doing so? It seems straightforward and easily adapted. I have done some of the exercises, such as writing mission statements, and can see they are exercises that you don't just do once, rather you return to and revise as time goes ob.

Having written out roles and priorities, I plan to try my hand at weekly planning, Covey-style. There are apps for this too. Ultimately I prefer hand written.


Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I'm half way through this book and so far it's been a blast and a really easy read. Some exercises are similar to JP's future authoring program but more concise and with more guidance.

I went looking for the quote Covey mentions on free will being the gap between stimulus and response by Viktor E. Frankl to find out more information about him, but it turns out the quote was probably written by psychologist Rollo May. It looks like Covey got mixed up with his quotes; but I'm only posting this because I really enjoyed the alternative quote too.

Freedom is thus not the opposite to determinism. Freedom is the individual’s capacity to know that he is the determined one, to pause between stimulus and response and thus to throw his weight, however slight it may be, on the side of one particular response among several possible ones.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
What I like is that Covey's underyling idea is that there is an ethical natural law that you violate at your peril - and that you can profit from if you follow it. But it's not about "success", it's more about living a life based on unshakable principles that can sustain you, no matter the circumstances. It will also shield you from just reacting to what is thrown at you and mechanically going this or that way. He defines free will as that short moment between stimulus and your reaction - this is where it's at!

The message reminds me a lot of Jordan Peterson. But Covey doesn't go into science or religion, he rather focusses on practical advice and on bringing his core messages home. It had a big effect on me and I now often think about things in terms of "I decide to do this or that" instead of just being thrown around by circumstances. This shift in mindset alone can be such a blessing! There's so much more in the book, and I think everyone can get a lot out of it, whether you have time management problems or not.
So far, this is one of the fundemental things I've gotten out of his work. And it stands in stark contrast to postmodern and other relativistic thinking that you create your own values, your own reality. There is something fundemental about the way reality is structured, and it can be discerened and followed in our day to day life, or ignored. Most of us here would probably understand it in terms of aligning ourselves with objective reality. In a way, Covey's work shows that the universe is indeed intelligent, and coming to grips with that is a great antidote for anxiety and other negative emotions.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Introducing another fellow, who as one commentator mentions "He reminds me a lot of the late Stephen Covey. He looks a little like him, he sounds a lot like him and his presentation style is similar. At times, I even get the impression he was influenced by Stephen, especially when he talks about empathic listening."

This Dr. George Thompson (or Doc Thompson) and he is an ex academic that started to lecture and teach (often to law enforcement for diffusing situations with verbal skills).

Academic-turned-cop and best-selling author George Doc Thompson describes how tactical language allows leaders to achieve their goals. Daniel Ames, the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics, confirms that managing conflict is a critical predictor of leadership success and shows how what works in the streets converges with recent findings in social science. The workshop was part of the Program on Social Intelligences Science Meets Practice series, which pairs hands-on leadership training with breaking insights in psychology research.
There is not a lot on him (articles/papers) as such, however here is a link to Columbia were you can read a bit and watch his class lecture (embedded the video below) as there may be things for people to pick up from what he is saying. For instance, you need a job, a raise, you are speaking with your children or you have a conflict at work, he is offering some insights into listening first, understanding, and responding. If on the street, you might find something here to deal with someone who is unruly. Husband/wife/partners/friends/children and colleagues, there are things here that may be usuful, and this is not from automation nor from an emotional state, its aim is to diffuse a situation (where if not handled properly can result long term consequences) and also reinforce the others point of view from a different way of approaching it.

Like Covey discuses, he brings up situations with his kids determined by how one listens and how one responds.

I ordered it and it is yet unread at this point.



The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I ordered it and it is yet unread at this point.
Started in on this book in just one short session, and so far I think this might well fit in with the work in general - especially on self awareness issues.

Thompson describes three types of people: The Nice, the Difficult, and the Wimp - the Nice are more yes people who do not argue - they do what is asked, more or less, and so anyone who might ask with a 'why' is described in the 'Difficult' camp - (he is in this camp and likely many here, too) by degree to the extremely difficult. Difficult people can be, as he says, "persnickety" and often challenge authority, yet are open to good explanations. Thompson says that Wimps are the "ones that sound like Nice People but are closet Difficult People" - they are traditionally sweet and then backstabbers. Thompson said he often faced Wimps in the class (even among cops) and the best way to deal with them is to strip them of their camouflage. Wimps hide behind others (in the back of the class behind others too).

Thompson describes his first day at a rough school (think it was in Kansas) as he begins his teaching career - the students are not recalled as friendly, and would basically eat up teachers. The Students rebelled right away - and in unison resisted before he even got his introduction in. How he overcame the situation (and he had no training and did not even know what dto do) is that the students wanted a verbal fight and he changed that around, like in Judo, he used the opponents energy against themselves. To paraphrase the idea here, the big guy in class (usualy there is a leader) steps into his face after ripping up his book and Thompson says, hey, what is your thing. Confused, the student said what do you mean? What is it that you are good at in life, said Thompson? The student said mechanic, I'm the best. Thompson rebounds and said something like, I don't think you are the best, but if you come in tomorrow with a carborator and teach the class, I'll reconsider. The kid did, he was amazing, and next he turned him onto other subjects - he raised the kids expectation of himself without the kid knowing it. Thereafter, this kid went to the Library, researched, carried a dictionary around asking Thomson about words he did not know (George said the kid graduated going on to Cal Tech or somewhere like that). All the other kids in class he found something that they wanted to teach, raised their expectations, so he let them all do this for a month.

Thompson tells of his own faults - learning from them after committing most all of them. He provides the analogy of the most dangerous weapon a person has (most assuradly this referes also to cops as he became one), and it is not a 9mm, a .357, it is the 'Cocked Tongue'. This tongue can be a response mechanism for failing grades, loosing jobs, not getting raises, dividing friends and family and ending marriages or partnerships. This tongue gets people killed (and no less this starts wars).

Thompson brings up the Rodney King affair and that it had taken place one week before he would have had those LA officers in his classroom. He tells of eight hundred cops killed in the line of duty and a vast number more seriously injured, not with standing people like Rodney King or people caught in the crossfire when approaching dangerous people. Much of this never needs to happen.

His first real lesson happened at 2:00 am after he and his partner got a call of a viscous domestic dispute (they are trained for this), and upon arrival in a drug infested neighborhood, a couple were going at it verbally - the door was ajar. Thompson was the junior officer ready with his hand on his revolver when his senior partner discards the playbook and walks right in to the living room past the couple, removing his cap and sitting on the couch while picking up a newspaper and reading the classifieds. The couple were confused. The senior partner shouts out at the couple something like, hey, over here, I need a phone, where is your phone - there is a 1950 Dodge that I can't miss buying. The man points to the phone and by this time the couple is completely disarmed in confusion. The rest of the encounter plays itself out and no one is hurt or arrested - told to keep the noise down.

Thompson wanted to know how his partner could suddenly change the playbook and discerned another way.

George looks at words and their root meanings, and looks at martial arts; deflection and enhanced verbal skills to change the discourse without anger rising to dangerous levels. His focus is on empathy (especially useful for Wimps) in how things are heard, understood, phrased and delivered. In this, though, there is complete honesty with the other while moving their energy to a better place.

These are just a few things mentioned, and the book is short and yet packed with good advice with practical lessons for anyone, and in most all situations.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I find this little pdf about the basics of Verbal Judo to give us an idea about the book...
Yes, excellent, as these things are well captured it the book so far. In some respects, he is showing empathy always in his questions and responses, and yet it has some aspects of tactics against petty tyrants that are a welcome challenge (as Thompson is saying - not in those terms, though).

Seppo Ilmarinen

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Finished reading this book today. Lots of great insights, and I noticed often thinking how "self-evident" these habits were, because not only are they explained in a very clear and coherent way, but as Covey points out, they are based on natural laws of human condition and our individual alignment with the reality - interaction between universal principles and personal values. This is probably why many things in the book made me think of Jordan Peterson's work.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just to provide a brief summary of this book (realizing it is the Covey thread), George went on to offer up a number of examples in situations, the mistakes in communications, and acronym tools associated with a method or points that can be used (sometimes in no particular order) when confronting either difficult situations, threats, or just in everyday life at home with family, friend, at work and in general.

I won’t get into his many examples that go from the extremes, to talking with one’s son or daughter, let alone one’s partner; or maybe it is a difficult parent who does not seem to be getting it whereby fireworks usually result. Personally, I had this come up this week with a difficult manager whereby thinking on what could take place and how to respond gave me angst – I tried to follow some of these examples without the results happening that could have erupted.

One brief example of something extreme (and remember he was also a cop doing cop things), was in facing down a crazy man wielding a knife against his eight-year-old son. One way or another the situation would resolve in either death, multiple deaths or a way to bring a crazy man down without incident. Words became everything and the standard negotiation tactic only meant that the crazy guys adrenaline would go into overdrive. In this case, this man accused the ex-wife of being a Satanist and filling the son’s blood with the devil – which needed to be purged, and he had the knofe to do so. What the heck do you do with a horrible situation like that? Well, after making some mistakes, George changed the conversation; getting this guy’s attention and providing something that might register in his mind. What he said was that he knows a priest and he is really good and can lay on hands and exercise the devil out of people – what do you think of that in saving your son who you love, type of statement. It calmed the crazy man down and made him think about the son who he loves with an answer to what he sees as a problem. He dropped the knife and turned around without incident.

Of the acronym’s, there are a number of them in which to consider, such as in ‘The Principals of Impartiality’ dealing with the personal, the ego, a bad place to come from in most situations. Using your professional face with a focus on ensuring the other person can save face (even if at the extreme) is one aspect. The ‘Golden Rule’ is in line even biblically, of treating others as you would want to be treated under identical situations. Responding (reanswer) and reacting (being controlled – the event is controlling you) and being ready to respond is to be kept in mind, and most all of this is part of the Work, our machines as G might say. There is flexibility over rigidity. Keeping things away from abstractions and being specific. Using positive feedback (even “when you least feel it”) et cetera.


  • Perspective
  • Audience
  • Voice
  • Purpose
  • Organization
  • Listen
  • Empathize
  • Ask
  • Paraphrase
  • Summarize
George brings up in chapters such things as the ‘Eleven’ things never to say like ‘Calm Down!’ among them.

Mr. Thompson also has a section on public speaking – the fear of it and some mastery over it. This is pretty good as it likely affects most of us, certainly me as something to get better at – basically and more: know the audience, know the material etc. and then the nuances that come into play.

Near the end of the book he brings up Rodney King again and how the situation got out of hand. Here is what he said:

“…for the first time in America a question was raised {well not the first time, osit}: What if the police, the thin blue line between peace and disharmony in our society, are the problem. That was something we didn’t want to think about and, for the most part, had never considered. Charges of police brutality were few and far between and were often brought by obviously guilty parties. But when people who have long doubted those in power now start to wonder about the police themselves, we face a chilling question. Why should anybody trust the police again?
…what happened to the thin blue line between order and disorder, between peace and violence? It’s gone."

That’s the tragedy of the Rodney King affair. A lot of people say it was business as usual in L.A., and of course a lot of L.A. cops say, “No, it isn’t”’
He recounts the saddest part being he likely would have had those cops in his class, as said above – they might have learned to ‘dance rather than stumble’ as what they did that night was illegal.

I’ll leave this here with something George discussed as being the typical traffic stop done by cops (which some here may have experienced – I have), concerning what a cop should say and what they do say (and what people like me say, right or wrong). In my case it was about six or seven years ago after visiting my mom and dealing with some of her hardships at that and time. That night on my way home (at dusk) I was followed by a vehicle some distance away with the sudden appearance of flashing lights behind me. With this event, the thinking was 99.9 % that I had done nothing to warrant this stop (yet perhaps there was a possibility of a burnt-out tail light), thus here it was as reality. So, rolled down the window, fished out my driver’s licence and registration as the drill requires and waited. The cop said, I need to see your driver’s licence and registration – nothing else, which provided me the opportunity (I’m more the difficult type of person as George describes and not the Nice who are always ready and willing) to say, good evening officer, is there a reason why you pulled me over tonight (of course there was not reason I was pretty sure)? Here is when it got interesting because the officer then started to fabricate, and each fabrication was responded by me with I don’t understand (the whole time with my ID inches from the officer as an offering). The fabrications moved to direct bold face lies of, ‘well, ah, you were swerving and I can smell alcohol – oh, and your eyes are bloodshot’. Really, I said, just so I understand you, you are claiming that you can smell alcohol and my eyes are bloodshot, well I don’t drink so that is not possible, my eyes are just fine and I was not swerving and not speeding. In retrospect the whole thing was ridiculous and yet I know the officer had a line which could not be crossed, so when it came to please step out of the car after some failed verbal judo, I complied.

Now George advises officer never to start with something like what this officer had said as it is a big error. He says, how about saying something different - here it might be ‘good evening, I am officer Sargent Pepper and thank you for stopping. I noticed you were swerving, I know it is dusk out, there are deer and it is more difficult to see; however, we have to check these things out. If it is okay with you, I need to confirm your driver’s license and registration? And if there is nothing wrong you are free to go?’ In so doing the officer removes the need for the driver to say I don’t understand and all the why’s, as it has been provided up front. The officer obviously has authority, and in this scenario was being polite, not threatening and offering a way out (if there was nothing wrong). However in this reality case, the lies kept building until a showdown of control was firmly established – and knowing who has control and power is pretty clear. Knowing this when it came to, you must do this and that (sobriety evidentiary stuff), this was complied with, yet not without the reminder to the officer that I still don’t ‘understand’ (I don’t stand under the law on this bogus stop). We chatted more, more failed verbal judo – and yes, ego was involved on both our parts, and who was going to save face defaulted to me to provide the offer at this point, there is just no way around it. So, that phase being over it was then please get in the police car and blow into the testing machine.

This was all my fault and possibly could have been avoided with just handing over my driver’s license and registration and nodding my head (the way of the Nice person according to George or a more prudent person knowing the authority) – so this bears on me and not the officer. However, the officer had options and could have said something like, you know, after reassessing the situation and talking to you, how about I check your ID and registration to ensure the car is not stolen and you can be on your way? In this case, though, this reality would proceed with dominating control and with no retractions of the lies – in fact more lies got stacked up on each other, so it would play out. With no ability to not play along and knowing exactly how things could escalate, although without full acknowledgement of accepting the lies, there was going to be lessons for each of us, whether they were learned or not as things followed there course. Once in the backseat of the cruiser the officer must read a canned legal statement with the end response being your ‘understanding’ (for blowing into the machine) under the law, which I would not give the officer after repeatedly reading off of the legal jargon for complete complied understanding. The cop was very confused, ghee, he should be doing this why isn't he might have come to mind, yet I was being polite while challenging the understanding clause with I did not understand. To save face, which was needed, I said that I still don’t understand why you stopped me as clearly I am not under the influence of alcohol nor did I do anything wrong, as your actions now show with respect to the motor vehicle Act in the absents of a charge, however, you have a job to do so how about I volunteer to blow in the machine and be on my way? With that, the officer was relived and put away the legal canned statement – never getting my understanding, and I blew in the machine which of course read zero. The officer said you are free to go and that was that.

If that officer was around our town today after reading George's book, I might sent over a copy.

Lastly, I have and do make mistakes regularly, so overall George’s little book provides some points of reference to keep in mind that can help one to negotiate through the many situations in life we can face. Our words and how we apply them can make a huge difference. Many of these things are natural anyway for some, yet emotions can derail situations and these are good reminders to consider when in confrontation or just as daily words listened to and spoken at home. What I found interesting, too, is that the emphasis must be on more listening and this is where many fail, and in the two forms of REspect/respect presented by George (speaking to police officers):

“…the difference between REspect and the word respect. Respect is what we have to show people at all times. We cannot respect people who prey on others, people who beat their spouses, people who brutalize their children. I have no respect for lawbreakers, but when as a professional I deal with them, I must always show them REspect. This is the Golden Rule in a single word.”
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