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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Revisited

ARTICLE CONTRIBUTED by ROSE JOSEPH Though career growth is essential in today's crowded job markets, it can be challenging if you don't know where to start. It's recommended we create a professional development plan. However, it can be daunting to commit to such a plan, especially alongside your usual job and any responsibilities you have at home. Garnering insights from professionals who know where you're coming from can give you the advice you need, which is where books can help. These thoughtfully-constructed, comprehensive works can guide you through career growth and help you stick to your plan to achieve your goals over time. 

Arguably, one of the first books you may consider reading is the bestseller. Written by businessman Stephen Covey, it's ranked among the top 10 career & growth bestsellers on Everand for good reason: it covers transformative practices for achieving personal and professional success. Yet, since 7 Habits was published more than 30 years ago, you may wonder if it's still relevant in today's more modern business landscape. 

What can I get out of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

As its name suggests, this book lists habits that can help you become a more effective individual. Here, Covey defines effectiveness as caring for yourself so you can continually produce great results, à la the goose that laid golden eggs. You can do so through what Covey calls the maturity continuum. By developing both yourself and how you see the world, you can move into higher levels of maturity—from the dependent state you're born in into the independence of adulthood and, finally, the interdependence you need to nurture with others for true effectiveness. The first six habits help advance that maturity, while the seventh aims to help you maintain your gains. 

Is it still relevant today?

Absolutely. There's one main reason why: Covey's advice is timeless. Instead of following self-help trends like Steve Harvey's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus-inspired manual —which, though just published in 2009, is already considered outdated by readers——7 Habits covers the fundamentals of personal and professional growth. In that way, the book remains relevant despite how much the world's evolved since 1989. Need to see it to believe it? Here's a quick rundown of the seven habits and how they can still work with a modern career development plan:

Habits 1 to 3: gaining independence 

The first habit is all about being proactive: instead of reacting to things once you can't control them, anticipate them while you still have a handle on the situation. Working a job you fear you'll lose to the Age of AI? Upskill now so you become indispensable. That's where the second habit comes in, encouraging you to begin with the end in mind. Determine what proficiencies you want to upskill in and how—such as by taking online classes or earning an advanced degree. But don't do so haphazardly. Instead, use Covey's third habit and put first things first. Use an Eisenhower matrix to prioritize career development tasks in terms of how urgent and important they are. 

Habits 4 to 6: nurturing interdependence 

Once you move up the career ladder, it's time to nurture your leadership skills—whether you're working in another company or starting your own. Start by changing your mindset with the fourth habit: think win-win. Always find the most beneficial solutions for all parties. For example, shifting to a four-day workweek wouldn't just be hopping on the bandwagon. Aside from promoting better work-life balance, it would help the company save on rent and utilities while benefiting from improved employee productivity. 

The fifth habit is also useful if you're in a leadership position—seek first to understand, then be understood. Actively listen to what employees have to say and empathize with them before saying your piece. This can work with everything from implementing and tweaking digital transformation policies in the workplace to deciding how to help employees after necessary layoffs. Finally, synergize. Covey's sixth habit simply asks that you allow what you bring to the table to be amplified by your colleagues. This can be as simple as hiring people from diverse backgrounds and different perspectives, which can give you fresh takes that can take your business and leadership effectiveness to the next level.

Habit 7: staying the course

Harvard notes that burnout is one of the key challenges that lead people to neglect professional development, something just as true today as it was in 1989. That's why this last habit goes back to the book's main takeaway: to continue being effective, take care of yourself first. In other words, sharpen the saw. Allocate breaks for you to relax and recharge so you can effectively yet sustainably achieve your career development goals.

Though more than 30 years old, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a seminal work that remains relevant today. It still applies to pretty much every aspect of modern life—including career growth!

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JYWH Writer
JYWH Writer

Thank you for your book "organizing from the right side of the brain" has helped me a lot.


JYWH Writer
JYWH Writer

My apologies for the multiple comments... My finger keeps hitting a button that interrupts the post .. Thought you want to know that Steve Harvey did not write Men are from Mars, Women..Venus, as stated in this post. John Gray PhD wrote it. I'm sure both of them would appreciate the correction.

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