Books Insights Personal Development

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey | Book Report [Habit #1]


  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind (soon)
  3. Put first things first (soon)
  4. Think win-win (soon)
  5. Seek first to understand, then be understood (soon)
  6. Synergize (soon)
  7. Sharpen the saw (soon)

There’s no shortcut in self improvement. Most of the time we do things just because we know it’s the right thing to do or because we think that it’s the appropriate response (like saying sorry just to shut someone up). Hindi bukal sa loob kumbaga. Naalala ko tuloy yung isang tao na kilala ko na mukang religious pero may mga ginagawa syang mga bagay na hindi naaayon sa mga pinagsasabi nya. Sabi dito sa book, you can get by and make people believe that you are a good person; but sooner or later, what’s really inside you will eventually present itself.

Our level of development is fairly obvious with tennis or piano playing, where it is impossible to pretend. But it is not so obvious in the areas of character and emotional development. We can “pose” and “put on” for a stranger or an associate. We can pretend. And for a while we can get by with it—at least in public. We might even deceive ourselves. Yet I believe that most of us know the truth of what we really are inside; and I think many of those we live with and work with do as well.

So instead of wasting our time on shortcuts, maybe we should change our way of thinking and the way we see things: a paradigm shift.

Sooner or later, you’ll see this in every long-term relationship they have, whether it is with a business associate, a spouse, a friend, or a teenage child going through an identity crisis. It is character that communicates most eloquently.

Super love this quote:

What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

And this is what I’m trying to do for the past few months: building my character. And it’s super hard. Na-realize ko netong mga nakaraan na parang ang dami ko pa palang pwedeng i-improve sa sarili ko. So hindi sya madali. But I am trying my best. I’ve seen improvements but I’m still struggling on other aspects.

You cannot pretend for long, for you will eventually be found out. Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.

Punta na tayo sa Habit #1:

  1. Be proactive

I’m not going to deny that in the workplace, being tagged as “proactive” has some sort of negative connotation to it. You will be perceived as “bida-bida” or “sipsip”. That’s why when I read Habit #1, my immediate thought was, “So lagi ka dapat mag-volunteer?” or “Dapat outspoken?” I’m not sure why I’m allergic to these thoughts. I know that being proactive is something valuable but because of our Filipino culture, it gets attached to something that you should avoid. And now that I’m pondering more about this, the more I realize that there should be a shift.

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.

But in this book, the focus is not in the workplace. It’s deeper than that—way deeper. It’s asking for us to be proactive in our own life. It’s not about being proactive so that we’ll get on our boss’s good side; but it’s saying that we should be proactive because it’s beneficial for our personal well-being.

When faced with difficult circumstances or discomfort, we have the ability to choose our response. We can choose between being proactive or reactive. Here’s the difference and super natamaan ako dito:

Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.

Ouch. I mostly identify with being reactive. Literal example sa weather: Pag masyadong maliwanag, tinatamad akong kumilos. Gusto ko medyo gloomy yung weather. Tapos sometimes I mask it as “self-care”. Iisipin ko na “Kelangan kong magpahinga ngayon.” or “Netflix is self-care.” Pero kung magiging honest ako sa sarili ko, parang tinatamad lang naman talaga ko. Pero sometimes nahihirapan din ako i-distinguish kung tinatamad lang ba talaga ko or kelangan ko talagang magpahinga. Minsan kelangan ng moment of reflection para ma-determine which is which.

Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others.

Again, this is me. Madali akong maapektohan. Para kong sponge. Ever since talagang sensitive na ko. Yung mapapakunot lang si Kenneth maaasar na ko. Perfect example nanaman yung mga mahilig mang-seen. Naaalibadbaran talaga ko sa mga ganun. Or maybe it’s my ego. Pero kung ano man yun, I think it’s time to take charge of my responses/reactions. Instead of reacting on an impulse, I should take some time to process so I can carry myself in a reasonable manner. Sabi nga, ‘Choose your battles’.

Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.

It circles back to this principle from Stoicism which is to focus on things we can control. And our value-based response (love this) is something we can control.

It is so much easier to blame other people, conditioning, or conditions for our own stagnant situation.

UGHHH. Sapul.

Maiba naman tayo (pero actually same pa rin naman). The author says that we should also listen to our use of language. If we evaluate our language or the way we speak, how many times do we hear ourselves say: “I have to go.” or “I have to do this.” It’s like we don’t have any choice. So instead of saying, “I have to…” we should replace it with, “I choose to…”

Maybe the reason why we say we “have to” do something is because there are consequences that we don’t want to happen. But we still have a choice there. We can choose not to face those consequences. Anytime pwede naman talaga tayong mag-backdown. But we choose not to. It’s demonstrating responsibility and taking control of our choices and actions.

Sooo. Punta naman tayo sa love. Pano nagkaron ng connection ang being proactive at love? Eto raw.

Love is a verb.

For the longest time, I only associate love as a feeling. And it is only when you have those feelings that you will express that love through actions. Pero eto yung bagong perspective na natutunan ko. Pwede palang baliktad. Pwede palang mauna yung actions. Pero, I think applicable lang ‘to sa mga tao na hindi nila alam kung bakit sila na-fall out of love. Yung wala naman third party or hindi naman abusive yung partner nila pero hindi na nya maramdaman yung love. Ang mabuti daw gawin pag ganun ay—surprise—love him/her. Love as in love the action word.

“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

“Love her.”

“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”

“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”

“But how do you love when you don’t love?”

“My friend, love is a verb. Love—the feeling—is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

Medyo madaling sabihin no? Pero hindi ko alam kung ganun na rin ba kadali pag ikaw na yung nasa situation. But I think it’s worth a shot. Love is something you do.

Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.

So ngayong alam na natin kung pano maging proactive sa lahat ng bagay—especially sa pagmamahal—lezz do diz! As of this writing, hindi ko pa matapos tapos yung Habit #2 (Begin with the end in mind) kasi gusto ko munang i-practice yung pagiging proactive. Personally hindi sya madali for me kasi medyo matagal akong nasanay sa pagiging “reactive”. Pero sabi nga nung 4th agreement sa ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz, “Always do your best.”

Sobrang love ko ‘tong quote na ‘to. Eto yung pinaka-favorite ko:

It is inspiring to realize that in choosing our response to circumstance, we powerfully affect our circumstance.


On improving our character:

How can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?

Henry David Thoreau

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. 


Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.

Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness… or ineffectiveness.

Effectiveness lies in the balance. Excessive focus on P results in ruined health, worn-out machines, depleted bank accounts, and broken relationships. Too much focus on PC is like a person who runs three or four hours a day, bragging about the extra ten years of life it creates, unaware he’s spending them running. Or a person endlessly going to school, never producing, living on other people’s golden eggs—the eternal student syndrome.

With genuine caring, I encourage you to open the gate of change and growth as you study these habits. Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.

For Kenneth:

To relate effectively with a wife, a husband, children, friends, or working associates, we must learn to listen. And this requires emotional strength. Listening involves patience, openness, and the desire to understand—highly developed qualities of character.

On relationships:

Using intimidation builds weakness because it reinforces dependence on external factors to get things done. When fear replaces cooperation, both people involved become more illogical and defensive.

I’ve learned that once children gain a sense of real possession, they share very naturally, freely, and spontaneously.

My experience has been that there are times to teach and times not to teach. When relationships are strained and the air charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection. But to take the child alone, quietly, when the relationship is good and to discuss the teaching or the value seems to have much greater impact.

On marriage:

It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it.


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