Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of only a handful of non-fiction books that have sold over 25 million copies. The audio version sold an unprecedented 1 million copies back in the days of cassette tapes. What has made it so popular? Covey’s powerful storytelling prowess? A catchy title? Some solid advice?
The 7 Habits are so popular because they bring values based accomplishment, mutually beneficial relationships and continuous growth to a business context. As Covey once phrased it “To do well you must do good, and to do good you must first be good”. This message has struck a chord with many leaders, managers and employees making them extremely receptive to the material of the book. Covey also emphasized learning through teaching, which added a pre-Internet viral marketing message.
Covey makes us rethink accomplishment and connection by encouraging us to examine our goals in the context of our life roles and values. His first 3 habits teach the need to be proactive, to define our mission and keep that end in mind, as we keep first things first. In Covey’s words, “The main thing is to keep the main the main thing”.
Once we’ve established a mission from value based roles and goals, Covey focuses us on strengthening our connections to the people around us. The next 3 habits pave the way with a mutually beneficial win-win attitude, a “you-first” empathetic listening model, and a recognition of differences and synergizing of strengths with our family, friends and business colleagues.
The 7th habit rounds out the “be good” message with an emphasis on continual growth. All the content is solid self-help material, and perhaps the greatest marketing move was delivering it within a business context where personal improvement could potentially translate into increased productivity and profits – a win-win for owners and employees.
If you have never read the book, or you need a refresher, take a look at our “7 Habits in 3 Minutes” video.