The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Seven Habits is one of the most successful and widely acclaimed books in the success literature genre. Even in fundamental Christian circles it ha received strong endorsements. So I had to see what all the excitement was about for myself.

On the positive side I greatly appreciate Covey’s emphasis on character development as opposed to personality development (pp.18ff). In the past our society was concerned with the development of the inner man but for the last 50 years the superficial, outward appearance has taken center stage. Covey’s book is a call back to a former time in which real success came from within. I found the book to be full of many practical and useful suggestions that would aid anyone in having an effective life. Things like putting first things first, seeking to understand others before being understood, and taking time to “sharpen the saw” (i.e. personal preparation for a task) are excellent advice. Seven Habits is also chocked full of wonderful quotes and stories that would inspire even the Tin Man.

But alas, when it is all said and done, Seven Habits, is just another garbled mess of intertwining ideas from a wide range of conflicting sources. Thrown into this casserole is everything from pop-psychology to classical psychology, from Christianity (Covey is a Mormon) to Eastern mysticism, from Plato to Jesus. The book is so infiltrated with self-esteem, Rogerianism and Humanism as to leave it mostly useless at best and highly dangerous at worst. While I might point some to a few selective pages, I could never recommend its reading.

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