From The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Published by Simon & Schuster.
Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, habits constantly express our character and produce our effectiveness or our in effectiveness. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I identify here seven habits shared by all truly effective people. Fortunately, for those of us not born effective (no one is), these habits can be learned. Furthermore, the collective experience of the ages shows us that acquiring them will give you the character to succeed.
Some years ago, I decided to read all the success literature published in the United States since its beginning in 1776 - hundreds of books, articles, and essays on self-improvement and popular psychology.
I noticed a startling thing: Almost all the writings that helped build our country in its first 150 years or so identified character as the foundation of success. The literature of what we might call “The Character Ethic” helped Americans cultivate integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, and the Golden Rule. Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is a prime example.
Compared with the early success literature, the writings of the last 50 years seem superficial to me - filled with social image consciousness, techniques, and quick fixes. There, the solutions derive not from the Character Ethic, but the Personality Ethic:
Success is a function of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, of skills that lubricate the process of human interaction. I don’t say these skills are unimportant. But they are secondary.
If there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental goodness behind what you do, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface, and human