The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I decided to read Stephen Covey’s book because I was interested in the FranklinCovey planning system. While Covey has some ideas and suggestions that may work for me on the level of technique, his assertions that he’s promoting some sort of universal truths that go deeper than technique don’t fly with me. I found his endless examples to be full of hierarchical, elitist, and power-over thinking (even though he preaches win/win). (And yes, I mean preaches.) There were a few places where I wrote things like "manipulative bastard" in the margins.

He lists basic principles (his seven habits are entirely premised on universal principles that "map the way things are") in only two locations (pages 34 and 323 in my edition). They include such things as fairness, integrity, human dignity, service, quality, potential. Those lists are fine, as far as they go. But he also repeatedly equates "principles" with "natural law." When someone as highly educated and widely read as Covey uses the words "natural law," he can’t be ignorant of the implications of that phrase, and he demonstrates that he is no friend of mine.

In the "About the Author" statement in the back of the book, it says, "As a father of nine and grandfather of forty-three, he received the 2003 Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative, which he says is the most meaningful award he has ever received." Well, Stephen R. Covey, I have a couple of principles for you: sustainability, carrying capacity, right sharing.

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