Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is one of my favorite all time books. However, ten years after I’ve read the book, it’s not the habits that have stood out to me. There’s one principle that has stuck with me all these years and it wasn’t one of the habits.

important takeaways from seven habits of highly effective peopleMy Favorite Takeaway From Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

One of my favorite books of all time is The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. The book is powerful and a huge seller with millions and millions of copies sold. I read this book for the first time about ten years ago and it was one of the first personal self help books that I’ve read. Since then I have actually fallen in love with the category of self-help books and reading positive things that I can use to better my life.

The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is a rather inspiring book. The author takes you through a journey of seven habits that could be applied to strangers, professional relationships, family relationships, and personal relationships.

The Biggest Inspiration From Seven Habits

I ended up with highlight marks everywhere by the time I had finished this book. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the habits themselves that had the biggest impact. For me it was a concept based of Pavlovian theory. The theory is that for each and every type of stimulus there was a response.  The example that Covey used in his book to this was a former prisoner of a Nazi Death Camp. This former prisoner came away with an intact identity throughout his experience and many years later.

As Covey put it, this man had the power to decide how he mentally responded to his captivity. “He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.”

In other words: you have the power to choose how you respond to each and every situation.  

This concept was monumental for me and somewhat of an “AHA!” moment. I can’t always control things that happen to me, I can choose how I respond to the things that I can control.

The Seven Habits and This Powerful Principle Applied To Debt and Life

I got into debt with my own decisions. However, I can sit here and be angry and miserable about the position I put myself in financially, or I can take ownership of my actions. I can respond in a positive way by working to overcome my debt.

I wasn’t born into a rich family. That’s something that I can’t control. I could blame other people for my mis-fortunes of where I’m from or where I’m not from. I could sit here and say, well I wish I was the son of a Fortune 500 business owner so I would be able to do x,y, or z. Maybe I should blame the wealthy one percent for my lack of ability to get out of debt. Maybe I can blame wealthy people or foreign investors for the reason houses are so expensive in San Diego.  Wouldn’t that make my life so much easier if I blamed other people? Nah, screw that, only snowflakes blame other people for their shortcomings. I can enjoy the life I have and what I’ve been given and respond to what I have, not what I don’t or what I struggle with.

All too often people take a stimulus that’s placed on them and turn it outward and misplace their anger on other people. Sometimes people even blame other people for the things that they can’t control. Let the stimulus/response principle guide you. The power is within you to determine what kind of control things have over you. Responding positively, taking ownership, and taking an initiative to confront your problems relinquishes control that other things have on you. This positive response can lead to a happier life. Try it.

How do you tend to respond to things? Has this reward/stimulus principle found in The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People ever helped you?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Paperback)


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