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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Narrated by: Stephen R. Covey
Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,930 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Celebrating its 15th successful year, the best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen R. Covey, is the indispensable audiobook that has helped shed light on how people can achieve their goals. In this special edition you will find an insightful foreword and afterword where Covey applies the 7 habits to the 21st century world of today. Access your full potential through the strategies, tips and techniques that are easily explained and remembered and learn the true value of what it means to be a sincere, rational and open-minded person. Available now from Audible.


Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has been a top seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology for proven principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Celebrating its 15th year of helping people solve personal and professional problems, this special anniversary edition includes a new foreword and afterword written by Covey that explore whether the 7 Habits are still relevant and answer some of the most common questions he has received over the past 15 years.

This audio edition is the first ever unabridged recording of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2004 Franlkin Covey (P)2004 FranklinCovey

Critic reviews

" The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is by now one of the best-selling books of all time." (Fortune)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Margaret
  • morpeth, northumberland, United Kingdom
  • 27-04-10

The message is simple

Like others on here I initially found the voice monotone and dry with none of the usual punch and uplift found in other personal improvement readings. But on reflection I think that this bland style works better in the long run. It allows you to listen, really listen to what he is saying rather than be short term uplifted. A long book taken at what seems a leisurely pace but I do not think it could have been shortened and still get the message across. This is a casserole not a microwave meal.

88 of 94 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • waterlooville, hampshire, United Kingdom
  • 20-08-09

good stuff

i thought this was interesting and useful book. The behaviours (habits) make alot of sense
It is a tad preachy at the end. If your in a toss up between this and how to win friends and influence people i think the later is better

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Common-sense wrapped in arcane ideas and language

I have no idea how this book became a classic bestseller. I also have no idea why I am in the minority in this opinion. It's rare that I feel negatively towards a well regarded book, but it wouldn't be fair if I kept my opinion on "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" to myself.

I'll start with the title. As others have noted, it implies there was underlying research carried out by Covey. Did Covey first define what a highly effective person is, gather a large set of people who fit the definition, and search for what habits they had in common?

No. He came up with an arbitrary set of reasonable values which he believes constitute a decent and well-balanced person, and artificially coerces them into a coherent ideology. Note I said "values". What Covey lists can hardly be called "habits" in any behavioural sense of the word. If the book's title was "Seven values for becoming well-balanced" that would have gained the book one full star in my opinion, up to three.

I do believe that Covey's advice is good, but I find it hard to imagine how it is deserving of such praise. I can only imagine that a society in which «Put first things first» ("habit" 3) , «Think win-win» ("habit" 4) and «Seek first to understand, then to be understood» ("habit" 5) are considered ground-breaking ideas is a deeply damaged one. Maybe that was the case in the early 1990s, or in American business culture. Still, it means that in the best case scenario this book has either not aged well in 25 years or is aimed specifically at people living a highly toxic idea of what it means to be successful.

There are very few examples of application. When they are fictitious they are are caricaturesque, such as a father trying to first understand his son's disappointment with school rather than berating him, or a family conflict in which a holiday the dad planned for ages clashes with the mum's wish to visit her ailing mother.

When the examples are purportedly based on real-life, they become so vague as to hand-waving that could be reduced to «This was a bad situation. Then my "habits" were applied, with no details. Then everything went magically well!».

This pattern is played out again and again: business or person X was in a tough negotiation or disagreement with business or person Y. Then X thought "win-win", or "understood" Y's position first, and they reached an agreement! There's no elaboration into what these win-win positions entailed, what made them viable and desirable to both parts, how X had initially failed to understand the position of Y, or how and why this understanding influenced Y. The examples do not illustrate the application of Coveys values (I insist they are values, not habits), but rather are dogmatic insistence that they work. Ironically I do believe that they work, I would just rather Covey showed me rather than told me. Show, don't tell.

My final gripe is with the convoluted, jargony and flowery pseudo-philosophical style that is found all throughout the book. Not only does it get in the way of what Covey is saying, sometimes you wonder if he is trying to say anything at all. This not only contrasts with modern self-management literature which emphasises getting to the point, but also with self-help books of the same period (The Now Habit, 1989). Even How To Win Friends And Influence People (1936) is refreshingly direct and straightforward compared to Seven Habits.

To conclude, if you have read this far, take my advice with a grain of salt. Many people rave about this book, so there must be a reason they found it valuable. All I can say is that if you enjoy straightforward language, illustrative examples, and the idea of empathy towards the needs of others does not seem alien, this book is most likely not for you.

77 of 84 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended.

I'd known about this book for a long time and it was always on my list of books to read (listen to). I found the 7 habits fascinating. The age of the book does come across and it is a little preachy but Stephen Covey's research, conclusions and insights are staggering in their depth. Although you come away feeling that a lot of what he says is common sense, the vast majority of people, including myself, would never think in those terms. Stephen unravels what it is to be human and how to make the most of that gift. I can't believe anyone listening could fail to benefit hugely from the experience.

59 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Stair
  • Northumberland, UK
  • 23-05-12

Get over the hangup - does NOT push religion

There are a few reviewers who have written off the book because the author happens to merely mention - in one sentence in the prologue - that he is a Christian. Surely the problem is no more than if he had mentioned being an atheist? - Anyway it is irrelevant to the content of the book and has no bearing on the concept, which is well researched and solid. The author has presented to boards of directors of major international companies and organisations and they wouldn't buy into crap and this is in no way wishy-washy or spiritual, the principles are well set out and argued.
I let the voice - which some may find jarring - pass over me and listened to the content which was what I bought it for after all.
Very insightful and well organised.
As an open minded individual - as far as one may be - why are so many people so touchy as to junk an entire book that is well reviewed by many business leaders and thinkers (and others) simply because an author mentions that he/she has a belief system? Very odd methinks...perhaps there may be something in it. Must look deeper myself perhaps - shall look in the relevant Audible category for a scholarly work without a strong agenda in either direction methinks! - Any suggestions anyone?

99 of 110 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Atif
  • East ham, London, United Kingdom
  • 23-03-11

Helped me focus on who I am

brilliant book.Layed out principles that are common for all people and essential for success. it helped me to re-focus on what is important for me in life and how to reprioritise my life around my principals.
A must listen for anyone and everyone

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leon
  • Chippenham, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
  • 16-06-06

7 Habits, constructive change not quick-fix

I took the time to listen to the unabridged version. Audible could do with reviewing the encoding but other than that the book was excellent.

This book is required reading for managers in the 21st century as is the 8th habit. This was an easy listen (even the unabridged version) and Stephen Covey is a great narrator. I'd recommend this book to all.

74 of 88 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A great listen

A very empowering book with lots of easy to do, useful ideas for leading a happier, more fulfilling life. Well worth a listen.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom
  • 02-08-07

Life changing

You can now have your cake and eat it. Having read a lot of management books, this is the one that will change your outlook on family and work. You will learn over time to do things differently and take control of those aspects of your life that at the moment might be controlling you.
The book is very readable and listening to Stephen Covey is even better.

41 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alan
  • SixmilecrossUnited Kingdom
  • 13-04-10

Must Read

If you have not yet read this book then you really should. It has been very influential and contains a wealth of ideas. If you only read one personal development book it should be this one. The audio book is well read by the author and is easy to follow and quite entertaining.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 29-08-10

I don't understand these other reviews

Too religious? Irrational? Morality? What book are these people reading?

Does the author mention religion? Yes. He clearly states that he believes in God. That takes up approximately 2 sentences in the entire book (though he says a little more in the afterword). He also mentions that all enduring religions AS WELL AS all enduring philosophical systems agree on certain principles of human maturity and interaction, and those are the principles he bases the book on. But is The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg religious, or even spiritual? Because that's by far the primary principle in the book.

Now, I guess you could say some parts talk about morality, but not in the sense of "you must love your neighbor" or whatever. And yes, the part about being honest could be seen as morality, but considering the whole point is that honesty is a requirement for having people trust you, it strikes me that many of these negative reviews may be written by people who wanted a quick fix, a set of numerical steps on how to be successful.

But that is not what this book is about. The point of this book is that you will never be content in your life if you are looking for contentment OUTSIDE OF your life. It all has to come from within -- that is, your character, who you are. There's nothing moral about that. There's nothing religious about that. But there's also nothing easy about it. This book is work. Lifelong work. And a lot of people simply are not ready for the implications. The first time I read it I didn't realize how far away from the objective I was. But as I've grown and reread the book, I've discovered how deep it goes.

Of course, none of this is scientific. None of it is rational. That isn't the point. We aren't solving sudoku or splitting atoms. We are dealing with human emotions, and there's nothing rational about emotions. But there can be a solid approach to controlling our lives, and that's what this book is all about.

I just wish they'd hired a professional to read it.

492 of 542 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 23-04-17

I did not expect to like this book

I really did not expect to like this book. I generally find the self help genre weak and I expected this title to be one more christian based positive thinking book. There is a tiny bit of faith-based stuff in the afterward, but it strives to be any-god-will-do. Mostly it is detailed, ordered, steps to, over time, improve your effectiveness.

The Seven Habits (plus the new eighth one) are:
Be Pro-Active, Set Goals, Prioritize, Think Win-Win, Listen, Synergize, Maintain, & Inspire
This list seems a bit trite, but the author takes care to build each concept upon another. It is more realistic than most self-help books and does not promise a quick fix, or riches, or power, it instead suggests an effective pattern for somewhat steady improvement. This system goes beyond having a "open mindset" to having an "abundance mindset". This does not mean an abundance of stuff, but noticing that many situations are not zero-sum, and that win-win net-positive situations are often, if not almost always, possible.

Of course doing all the things the author suggests is non-trivial, but they are generally good suggestions for making progress once you are committed to change.

The writing and narration is quite clear, folksy, and pleasant, and far from the exuberance of some books in this genre. Some may find the folksiness a bit slow and boring, try speeding it up.

BTW - some reviews mention chapter ordering issues that seem to have been fixed.

280 of 310 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 09-08-07

A true guide for life

This is one of my top ten books of all time for lifelong contemplation.

Key themes of Proactivity; Setting and following priorities; Re-scripting according to principles; Win-Win; Listening to understand others; Synergy; and Renewal are fundamental, timeless and universal.

Dr. Covey's approach is unequalled in breadth and depth, while being entirely accessible to any human being. Everything he writes complements everything I've learned in life, while laboring to uproot any weeds that have grown in my internal garden. Having Dr. Covey read the material to me personally... it's the icing on the cake!

I read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" when it first appeared decades ago; read it a second time five years later; and now, thanks to Audible, I've begun a profound study and contemplation of the material, that would have otherwise been too tedious to handle, given my other time commitments, as well as the fact that, since my work is about 90% in front of the computer, my eyes tire quickly before printed material in my non-work time.

I organize my listening in two ways: listening in the logical, step by step, chapter by chapter method on the one hand, imagining myself attending a 7 Habits seminar or class; and listening for hours at a time as I lie down to rest/relax/sleep on the other. The result is I end up hearing the material over and over, provoking thoughts and contemplations about where I am in life, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. I expect the process to last about six months. My goal from the reading: A complete paradigm re-adjustment for life.

This book has my highest recommendation for any person anywhere.

279 of 312 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anita
  • 29-11-04

Excellent Insights

This book provides excellent insights into dealing with others through
introspection. It touches on Victor Frankel and others who provide examples of how to turn adversity into assets. This book is not a traditional self help book, but a companion to guide the listener into ones self.

61 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Austin
  • 19-12-04

Change your Life

If you really want to change your life for the better, read this book. I would suggest not listening to this in the car, but in the quiet of your home and make notes as you do. You will truly change the way you go through life and the way you understand other people.

101 of 115 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Bevan
  • 22-01-05

The real deal...

Sadly this book is contrarian to a lot of what goes on in our society. Thus I constantly have to "try" to practice these principles. But the trying is worth it. I have used this book as a standard for turning around the cultures of two manufacturing plants after I was hired from the outside. Those turn-arounds were only accomplished because the principles in this book work and because, if patiently applied, they give a management team a common vocabularly for they way they treat each other and their associates. My only function was to act as catalyst and insist that these principles be practiced. After a couple of years, in both cases the stress levels were way down, the morale was way up, and the performance was beyond anything known before and certainly beyond expectation. In my current assisgnment we're saving over $3M per year (450 people) and the roots of that accomplishment are in this book. It's a book to listen to, to absorb, and to go back to over and over again. An annual tuneup by listening to this program, is typical of those who REALLY try to adopt the 7 Habits (and model them). It's tough to be a perfect practitioner. One can only read and try...

129 of 151 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Russell B. Ivey
  • 27-06-05

Great book bad audio

The material in the book is great and I highly recommend it. This audio version, however, is very difficult to listen to because the author speaks so slowly and pauses so often. I had the feeling that I could have listened to the unabridged version in half the time if read by another narrator. I found myself zoning while listening to the book, rewinding it so I could listen to it again, and by the time I got to the part I had missed, I was zoning again.

My 3 star rating is based on the audio itself, not the content. I highly recommend the book itself, and I may even buy the abridged version so I can refresh myself on the material.

236 of 286 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew
  • 13-03-09

The Best Book I've ever read!

This book is Amazing, if your real with yourself and listen to what he is saying it will have an impact on you, for life, for the good. It has changed my life as well as my thinking of it. I'm 23 and I thank God I heard this before I got old and set in my thinking. I would honestly have to say this has to be one of the best books I've ever read!! I wouldn't trade anything for it! Thanks

45 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • alexander.katsman
  • 19-08-16

Good material which is destroyed by poor narration.

The material is good, but it's hard to follow because of the poor narrator. I would recommend this book, if it had a different narrator. You really have to listen to get the info. Not a book you can easily absorb.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cpmis
  • 16-12-04

Most insightful book

It is a wonderful feeling to come across a book where you feel that you really got your money's worth and that you really are learning something new and exciting that would greatly improve the way you think and live. Dr. Covey really got me thinking about so many things that I could really improve on and just what he said about not "getting in the thick of thin things" alone is worth every penny. I want to be a better husband and a better father to my children and strongly believe following the principals he identified will greatly help me achieve that.

54 of 70 people found this review helpful