The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
  • The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
  • The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

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by Stephen R. Covey

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That the world has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid pace is not news. People are much more aware of everything around them. The consumer revolution has accelerated dramatically. But something vital is missing in all of this change.

Leadership has not kept up with the changes going on in the world. From board rooms to classrooms, leadership

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That the world has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid pace is not news. People are much more aware of everything around them. The consumer revolution has accelerated dramatically. But something vital is missing in all of this change.

Leadership has not kept up with the changes going on in the world. From board rooms to classrooms, leadership is being challenged on a daily basis yet no new leadership model has been given. In this new, important work, bestselling author Stephen R. Covey offers ideas of how leadership roles have changed and how one can take on the roles of the new leader.

Dr. Covey introduces the 4 roles of the new leader--modelling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering--and how those qualities can change you and your organization. He discusses how trust can be lost throughout organizations and how it is imperative that any organization bring trust back to the company if it is to survive. Covey also shows how to go from what he calls a "want to" person to a "can do" person and how doing so can completely transform people and organizations.

Through his ideas, one will discover how to:

*Use the four vital roles to establish trust and make growth a given
*Build and sustain an atmosphere of respect and openness
*Keep and inspire your most talented workers
*Apply creative cooperation to reach new levels of performance
*Stay more "promotable"
*Develop leadership at every level of your organization
*Take advantage of strengths and compensate for weakness
*Reduce cynicism and improve morale
*Stay flexible and focused to recognize larger opportunities.

Stephen Covey's new book will transform the way we think about leadership just as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People changed our thinking about success.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The original seven habits of highly successful people are still relevant, but Covey, author of the mega-bestseller of that title, says that the new Information/Knowledge Worker Age, exemplified by the Internet, calls for an eighth habit to achieve personal and organizational excellence: "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." Covey sees leadership "as a choice to deal with people in a way that will communicate to them their worth and potential so clearly they will come to see it in themselves." His holistic approach starts with developing one's own voice, one's "unique personal significance." The bulk of the book details how, after finding your own voice, you can inspire others and create a workplace where people feel engaged. This includes establishing trust, searching for third alternatives (not a compromise between your way and my way, but a third, better way) and developing a shared vision. This book isn't easy going; less business jargon and more practical examples would have made this livelier and more helpful. But if organizations operated with Covey's ideas-and ideals-most people would undoubtedly find work much more satisfying. DVD not seen by PW. (Nov. 9) FYI: Free Press is simultaneously publishing a 15th anniversary trade paperback edition of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold 15 million copies worldwide. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Covey emphasizes that this book isn't merely an afterthought to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989); instead, it adds a new dimension to the original program. The eighth habit comprises finding your "voice"-your unique personal significance-and inspiring others to find theirs. Crucial to this is shifting to a "whole-person paradigm" in which one's body, mind, heart, and spirit are all engaged. Covey predicts that society will transition from property-based industrialism to a "Knowledge Worker Age" that incubates and capitalizes on this whole-person paradigm. Meaty, readable, and insightful, the text contains FAQ sections regarding real-life application of the theories and contains diagrams that help ground readers. Though conceived for individuals, Covey's book will be of tremendous importance to organizations and businesses. The accompanying DVD (not seen) poses replacement concerns, but multiple copies are still essential for most libraries and all self-help collections. [The 15th-anniversary edition of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (ISBN 0-7432-6951-9. $15) will be published simultaneously.-Ed.]-Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
For individuals and organizations, excellence is no longer merely an option — survival requires it. But to thrive, excel and lead in our Knowledge Worker Age, we must move beyond effectiveness to greatness, which includes fulfillment, passionate execution and significant contribution. Accessing a higher level of human genius and motivation requires a sea change in thinking: a new mind-set and skill set — in short, an additional habit to those featured in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The 8th Habit shows you how to tap the limitless value-creation promise of the Knowledge Worker Age. It shows you how to solve the major contradictions inherent in organizational life. The 8th Habit will transform the way you think about yourself, your purpose in life, your organization and other people. It explains how to move from effectiveness to greatness.

The Pain
Most people in organizations today are neither fulfilled nor excited. They're frustrated and uninvolved in their organization's goals. That's why our high-pressure, 24/7 era requires more than effectiveness (the "7 Habits"). To achieve greatness, we need an "8th Habit": Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.

The Problem
Our basic management practices come from the Industrial Age.

As people consent to be controlled like things, their passivity only fuels leaders' urge to direct and manage.

There's a simple connection between the controlling, "thing" paradigm that dominates today's workplace and the inability of managers and organizations to inspire people's best contributions: People choose how much of themselves to give to their work, depending on how they're treated. Their choices may range from rebelling or quitting (if they're treated as things), to creative excitement (if they're treated as whole people).

The Solution
Most great organizations start with one person who first changed him- or herself, then inspired others. Such people realize that they can't wait for their boss or organization to change. They become an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. They learn their true nature and gifts, then use them to envision what they want to accomplish. They find and use their voice.

Greatness involves transcending the negative cultural "software" of ego, scarcity, comparison and competitiveness, and choosing to become the creative force in your life.

All of us can choose greatness — we can cultivate a magnificent spirit in facing a serious disease, make a difference in the life of a child, be a catalyst inside an organization, or initiate or contribute to a cause.

Discover Your Voice
We can discover our voice because of three gifts we're born with. These gifts are:

Gift #1: The Freedom to Choose. Our past, our genes, the way others have treated us — these influence us but don't determine us. Between stimulus and response there is a space where we choose our response. In our choices lie growth and our happiness.

Gift #2: Natural Laws or Principles. To use wisely that space between stimulus and response, we must live by natural laws that dictate the consequences of behavior. Positive consequences come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution.

Gift #3: The Four Intelligences. These are: mental intelligence, physical intelligence, emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence.

Express Your Voice
Great achievers develop their mental energy into vision. Vision is applied imagination. Everything is created first as a mental creation, then as a physical reality. Vision also means affirming others, believing in them, and helping them realize their potential.

Great achievers develop their physical energy into discipline. They don't deny reality. They accept the sacrifice entailed in doing whatever it takes to realize their vision. Only the disciplined are truly free. Only a person who has disciplined him- or herself for decades to play the piano is free to create magnificent art.

Great achievers develop their emotional energy into passion — desire, conviction and drive. Passion appears as optimism, excitement, emotional connection, and determination, and is deeply rooted in the power of choice. Passionate people believe in creating their own future.

Great achievers develop their spiritual energy into conscience — their inward moral sense of what is right and wrong, and their drive toward meaning and contribution.

We must control our ego and let our conscience guide our moment-to-moment behavior. As we develop the four intelligences — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — in their highest manifestations, we find our voice. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

From the Publisher
Ken Blanchard coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Customer Mania! Steve Covey does it again with cutting-edge thinking. The 8th Habit is about finding out why you're here and helping others to do the same. Is there a nobler cause? Don't miss this book!"

Warren Bennis Distinguished Professor of Management, USC; author of On Becoming a Leader; and coauthor of Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders Covey's work has influenced millions upon millions of people worldwide. In this book, he takes a huge conceptual leap and introduces us to ideas and practices that will have a profound impact on all our lives. The 8th Habit is a marvelous read, a triumph of the spirit, and, in my view, Covey's most important work.

Kevin Rollins President and CEO, Dell, Inc. Getting results in large companies is a very rare skill and this book captures how to do it. The guidance provided here will prove invaluable for leaders who are trying to drive tighter execution in their organizations.

Horst Schulze Former President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company For years I have been using the 7 Habits as guiding principles in leading my business. I had to read The 8th Habit. Having done so, I am completely wowed, captured, and empowered. The 8th Habit is a true masterpiece, a must-read. These principles of personal and organizational leadership, when lived, unleash human genius and inspire deep commitment and magnificent levels of service and satisfaction. This book will be my gift to all my associates as required reading for all of my future endeavors.

Steve Forbes President and CEO of Forbes and Editor In Chief of Forbes Magazine Stephen Covey has long been a sure-footed guide to those desiring to better themselves. The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness shows how to climb to the summit of fulfillment and achievement.

Tom Peters author of Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age I hope Stephen writes a dozen more books. But should he not do so, The 8th Habit will clearly stand as the crowning achievement of a lifetime of service. May millions upon millions the world over read, share, and be moved to firmly grasp the reins of their lives as a result!

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Free Press
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 3: The Solution

There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."1 This book is dedicated to striking at the root of the significant problems we face.

We've started with the pain; we've explored the underlying problem — one that has personal roots and that involves a deeply imbedded paradigm and set of traditions in the workplace. Now let's set the context for the solution and give an overview of how it will be unfolded in the remainder of the book.

I've worked with organizations around the world for over forty years and have been a student of the findings of the great minds who have studied organizations. Most of the great cultural shifts — ones that have built great organizations that sustain long-term growth, prosperity and contribution to the world — started with the choice of one person. Sometimes that one person was the formal leader — the CEO or president. Very often it started with someone else — a professional, a line manager, someone's assistant. Regardless of their position, these people first changed themselves from the inside out. Their character, competence, initiative and positive energy — in short, their moral authority — inspired and lifted others. They possessed an anchored sense of identity, discovered their strengths and talents, and used them to meet needs and produce results. People noticed. They were given more responsibility. They magnified the new responsibility and again produced results. More and more people sat up and noticed. Top people wanted to learn of their ideas — how they accomplished so much. The culture was drawn to their vision and to them.

People like this just don't get sucked into or pulled down for long by all the negative, demoralizing, insulting forces in the organization. And interestingly, their organizations are no better than most organizations. To some degree, they're all a mess. These people just realize that they can't wait for their boss or the organization to change. They become an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. And it's contagious.

Where does a person get such internal strength to swim against the current and to withstand negative cultural provocations, subordinate selfish interests and develop and sustain such vision and determination?

They learn of their true nature and gifts. They use them to develop a vision of great things they want to accomplish. With wisdom they take initiative and cultivate great understanding of the needs and opportunities around them. They meet those needs that match their unique talents, that tap their higher motivations and that make a difference. In short, they find and use their voice. They serve and inspire others. They apply PRINCIPLES that govern growth and prosperity in human beings AND in organizations — principles that draw the highest and best from a "whole person" — body, mind, heart and spirit. Equally significant, they also choose to influence and inspire others to find their voice through these principles as well.

This two-part solution — Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs — is a road map for individuals at ANY level of an organization to maximize their fulfillment and influence, become an irreplaceable contributor, and inspire their team and the broader organization to do the same. Accordingly, the book is organized into two main sections:

1. Find Your Voice

2. Inspire Others to Find Their Voice

Let's briefly introduce each.

Find Your Voice

Everyone chooses one of two roads in life — the old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women alike. One is the broad, well-traveled road to mediocrity, the other the road to greatness and meaning. The range of possibilities that exists within each of these two destinations is as wide as the diversity of gifts and personalities in the human family. But the contrast between the two destinations is as the night is to the day.

The path to mediocrity straitjackets human potential. The path to greatness unleashes and realizes human potential. The path to mediocrity is the quick-fix, short-cut approach to life. The path to greatness is a process of sequential growth from the inside out. Travelers on the lower path to mediocrity live out the cultural "software" of ego, indulgence, scarcity, comparison, competitiveness and victimism. Travelers on the upper path to greatness rise above negative cultural influences and choose to become the creative force of their lives. One word expresses the pathway to greatness. Voice. Those on this path find their voice and inspire others to find theirs. The rest never do.

The Soul's Search for Meaning

Deep within each one of us there is an inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution — to really matter, to really make a difference. We may doubt ourselves and our ability to do so, but I want you to know of my deep conviction that you can live such a life. You have the potential within you. We all do. It is the birthright of the human family.

I once visited with the commander of a military base who was truly on fire with his commitment to undertake a significant cultural change inside his organization. He had been in the service for over thirty years, was a full colonel, and was eligible for retirement that very year. After he had been teaching and training his organization for many months I asked him why he planned to stay on and undertake such a major initiative — one that would require swimming upstream against the tremendous resisting forces of tradition, lethargy, indifference and low trust. I even said to him, "You could relax. You'd have a good retirement. Award banquets would be held in your honor. Loved ones and associates would celebrate you."

He became very sober, paused for a long time and then decided to share with me a very personal, almost sacred, experience. He said that his father had recently passed away. When the father was on his deathbed, he called his wife and son (the colonel) to him to say good-bye. He could barely speak. His wife wept during the entire visit; the son drew down close to his father, and his father whispered into his ear, "Son, don't do life like I did. I didn't do right by you or by your mother and never really made a difference. Son, promise me you won't do life like I did."

Those were the last words the colonel heard from his father, who passed away shortly thereafter. But he regarded them as the greatest gift and legacy his father could have ever given him. He made his mind up then and there that he was going to make a difference — in every area of his life.

Later the colonel told me privately that he had been planning to retire and relax. In fact, he had secretly hoped that his successor would not do as well as he had and that this would be obvious and apparent to all. But when he had this epiphany with his father, he determined not only to become a change catalyst in building principles of enduring leadership into the culture of his command but also to see to it that his successor would be more successful than he had been. By striving to institutionalize these leadership principles into the structures, systems and processes of his organization, he would increase the likelihood of passing on his legacy one leader-generation to another.

He said further, that up until that experience with his father, he had knowingly taken the easier road, acting basically in a custodial role in the traditions of the past, and that he had chosen a life of mediocrity. But with his father, he resolved, as never before, to live a life of greatness, a life of real contribution, a life of significance — one that really made a difference.

All of us can consciously decide to leave behind a life of mediocrity and to live a life of greatness — at home, at work and in the community. No matter what our circumstances may be, such a decision can be made by every one of us — whether that greatness is manifest by choosing to have a magnificent spirit in facing an incurable disease, by simply making a difference in the life of a child, giving that child a sense of worth and potential, by becoming a change-catalyst inside an organization, or by becoming an initiator of a great cause in society. We all have the power to decide to live a great life, or even simpler, to have not only a good day but a great day. No matter how long we've walked life's pathway to mediocrity, we can always choose to switch paths. Always. It's never too late. We can find our voice.

Once you make the choice to follow this "road less traveled," the pathway to finding your own voice is to:

1. Discover Your Voice by coming to understand your true nature — what I call three magnificent birth-gifts (chapter 4) and by developing and using with integrity the intelligence tied to each of the four parts of your nature.

2. Express Your Voice by cultivating the highest manifestations of these human intelligences — vision, discipline, passion and conscience (chapter 5).

Film: Discovery of a Character

I would like to share with you a powerful, true story that embodies this process of finding your voice. Several years ago, our firm participated with our local PBS station in broadcasting a video dramatization we developed and filmed in England. The central figure in this remarkable story is an Englishman who transcended a childhood spent as a street urchin to become a reasonably successful writer with a nice home and a loving family. At the time of the story, however, he had developed "writer's block." It seemed his creativity had turned off. His debts were mounting. He was under tremendous deadline pressure from the publisher. He was becoming more and more depressed. He began to fear that his own children would end up on the streets like so many he saw around, like he, himself, had as a youth — particularly when his father was in debtor's prison.

He was discouraged. He couldn't sleep. He began to spend his nights walking the streets of London. He saw the poverty, the inhumane conditions of children working nights in the factories, the terrible struggle of parents trying to eke out a living for their families. Gradually, the full reality of what he was seeing began to hit him — the impact of selfishness and greed and those who would take advantage of others. An idea touched his heart and began to grow in his mind. There was something he could do that would make a difference!

He returned to his writing with an energy and enthusiasm he had never known. The vision of contribution impassioned and consumed him. He no longer felt doubt or discouragement. He didn't worry about his own financial concerns. He wanted to get this story out, to make it as inexpensive as possible, to make it available to as many people as possible. His whole life had changed. He'd truly found his voice.

I invite you now to watch a brief film that dramatizes this remarkable man's true experience. You can view it by going to and selecting Discovery of a Character from the Films menu.

Inspire Others to Find Their Voice

Once you've found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature — physically, mentally, emotionally/socially and spiritually — latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in productivity, innovation and leadership in the marketplace and society.

Part 2 of The 8th Habit begins with chapter 6. It is to Inspire Others to Find Their Voice. Since most of the world's work is done in organizations, the focus is on principles you can apply to positively influence others in any organization (business, education, government, military, community, even family).

Most likely, you will also have many practical "yeah, but" questions come to your mind. To assist you, you will find a brief section of commonly asked questions and my responses at the end of each remaining chapter. I hope they are helpful to you, but feel free to skip them if you are not interested. Following the last chapter of the book you will also find a "chapter" dedicated to questions and answers that are more general and comprehensive in nature.

Getting the Most out of This Book: Learning by Teaching and Doing

If you would like to get the most out of this book and initiate powerful change and growth in your life and organization, I recommend two simple ideas to you. If you will do these two things, I guarantee dramatic results. The first is to teach others what you learn; the second is to systematically apply what you learn — to do it!

Teach and Share As You Go

Almost everyone acknowledges you learn best when you teach another and that your learning is internalized when you live it.

While teaching at the university years ago, I met a visiting professor, Dr. Walter Gong, from San Jose, California. He taught a one-semester class for faculty entitled How to Improve Your Teaching. The essence of his program was this great principle: The best way to get people to learn is to turn them into teachers. In other words, you learn the material best when you teach it.

I immediately started to apply that principle in my work and at home. When I first started university teaching, my classes only had about fifteen to thirty students. When I started applying Dr. Gong's principle, I found that I could effectively teach many more students; in fact, some of my classes were packed with nearly a thousand students, and yet the students' performance and test scores actually went up. Why? When you teach you simply learn better. Every student becomes a teacher, and every teacher a student.

Now, the common paradigm is that the teacher-student ratio is critical — fewer students means higher-quality teaching. But if you turn your students into teachers, you gain leverage. You move the fulcrum over.

Also when you teach or share what you're learning with others, you implicitly commit socially to live what you teach. You will naturally be more motivated to live what you're learning. This sharing will be a basis for deepening learning, commitment and motivation, making change legitimate, and enrolling a support team. You will also find that sharing creates bonding with people — especially with your children. Have them regularly teach you what they are learning in school. My wife, Sandra, and I have found that doing this simple thing essentially eliminates any need for external motivation with their studies. Those who teach what they are learning are, by far, the greatest students.

Integrate What You Learn into Your Life

To know and not to do, is really not to know. To learn and not to do is not to learn. In other words, to understand something but not apply it is really not to understand it. It is only in the doing, the applying, that knowledge and understanding are internalized. For instance, you could study tennis as a sport by reading books and hearing lectures, but until you've actually played it, you wouldn't really know the sport. To know and not to do is not to know.

There are at least four approaches you could take in applying what you learn in this book:

1. The first would be to simply read the book straight through. Then decide what you want to apply in your life and work. This is the way most people approach a book. It reflects the desire many of us have to get emotionally or mentally connected with a flow of ideas in a book and then run with it.

2. The second approach would be to read through the entire book and then use the comprehensive understanding and cumulative motivation to go back and read the book a second time — this time with the intent to apply as you go. This could work very well for many.

3. A third approach — one that I personally believe will yield the greatest results — would be to adopt it as a yearlong personal growth and development program. Take a month for each of the remaining twelve chapters. Start by reading the next chapter, teach it and then apply it the rest of the month. You will find that if you will actually seek to apply what you learn in each chapter for a month, the insight you gain in the chapters that follow will profoundly increase.

4. The fourth approach is simply to adapt the third approach to your own timeline. Some readers might want to go faster or slower than one chapter a month. Read and apply a new chapter every week, every two weeks, every two months, or in whatever time frame you choose. This retains the power of the third approach yet allows you the flexibility to adapt it to your own desires and circumstances.

To assist you in applying the principles in each chapter of the book, regardless of which approach you choose, I have put together a number of application ideas and exercises to get you started. You may access them by going to I've also included on the last two-page spread of the book a chart that will assist you in completing what we could call "The 8th Habit Challenge." The Challenge involves accomplishing Development/Action Steps for each chapter:

1. Read the chapter.

2. Teach the chapter to at least two people, including work colleagues, family members, friends, etc.

3. Make a sincere, concerted effort to live the principles included in the chapter for one month.

4. Report the results and your learnings from seeking to live the ideas in the chapter to a trusted colleague, family member or friend.

Once you have completed the entire "8th Habit Challenge" chart, you can certify you have done so at and you will receive a special recognition for your accomplishment.

As we move now to Part 1: Find Your Voice, consider the words of Abraham Lincoln: "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present." We must think anew. We must develop not only a new mind-set but also a new skill-set and a new tool-set that flows from it. This is difficult to do; it throws everyone out of their comfort zones. But a new reality has emerged, a new economy, a new challenge. This new challenge — not only surviving but truly thriving in this new reality — requires a new response, a new habit. Remember, habits lie at the intersection of knowledge, attitude and skill. As you develop these three dimensions of the 8th Habit, you'll increasingly become equal to the new challenge and to your unlimited possibilities.

Copyright © 2004 by FranklinCovey Co.

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