The 8th Habit (The Definitive Summary)
by Dr. Stephen R. Covey

The Strategies Explained to take you from
Effectiveness to GREATNESS

The 8th Habit Book hold
Good to Great


The 8th Habit From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen R. Covey will transform the way you think about yourself and your purpose in life, about your organization and about humankind. It will give you the strategies you need to build on and move beyond effectiveness… to GREATNESS!

Take action, find your voice… and, importantly, discover how to inspire the people around you to find their voices as well.

In this book summary, you’ll discover:

  • How to develop the four intelligences that’ll help you find your voice;
  • That freedom of choice allows you to unfold your true potential; and
  • The key to building mutual trust.

Let’s go…

For those of you who haven’t read Stephen Covey’s best selling 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, here they are:

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

The 8th Habit

The 8th Habit is essentially taking all the 7 habits and putting them into overdrive…

You’ll know what you want to do with your life and you’re going to inspire others to define their destiny.

It’s the seven habits on steroids if you like.

So, here’s the path you need to take.

The first thing we need to do is to understand that when we came flying out into this amazing world of ours, we were given some pretty special gifts.

So here’s a couple of them.

One of the most important gifts that we have is the freedom and power to choose.

No matter what happens in your life, there’s a place between stimulus and response.

It is summed up by this great quote:

The 8th Habit 01

“The history of free men is never written by chance but by choice, their choice.”- Dwight D. Eisenhower

We have also been given the gift of four intelligences:

The 8th Habit 02
  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Emotional and
  • Spiritual intelligence.

Likewise, there are four areas of our life that we need to take care of and that we have that choice to take care of.

Here’s how The 8th Habit suggests you take care of them.

The 8th Habit 03
  • For the body, assume you’ve had a heart attack – now live accordingly;
  • For the mind, assume that the half-life of your profession is two years – now prepare accordingly;
  • For the heart, assume everything you say about another, they can overhear – now speak accordingly;
  • Lastly, for the spirit, assume that you’re going to have a one on one visit with your creator every quarter – now live accordingly.

The main point of all of this is that you were born with some amazing gifts but…

It’s how you are going to use them that matters.

Find your voice

It makes sense if you are in control of every aspect of your life, that you also get to decide what your voice is.


Here’s where you will find your voice.

When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion, that rises out of a great need in the world, that you feel drawn by conscience to meet… therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.

It’s such a simple formula, but it’s so very profound.

You certainly aren’t going to figure it out today or maybe not even this year.

But that’s the formula.

So struggle with it, debate with yourself, ask others for help, do whatever you need to do to find that magic sweet spot that’s the intersection of your talent, passion, conscience, and need in the world.

So for those of you who are thinking that you’re too old for this stuff…

The 8th Habit 5

Colonel Sanders didn’t find his voice until he was sixty-five years old. So, suck it up and get to work.

Let’s assume that in the last two minutes you found your voice.

Now let’s talk about expressing your voice. Because if you have your voice, it’s not going to do you much good trapped inside.

Here’s how you need to get it out.

# 1 You need to continue to be driven by passion.

We are governed by some natural laws in this world, and one of those laws is that you are going to have to put in the time if you want to make a difference.

Malcolm Gladwell will tell you that it takes at least 10,000 hours to truly become an expert at something.

Have you ever seen anybody invest 10,000 hours in something he or she isn’t passionate about?

# 2 You need to have a vision.

All things are created twice in this world. First in your mind, and then out in the physical world.

So, you need to have a vision of how your personal voice is going to affect change in the world, and how it’s going to be brought to life.

# 3 You need to have discipline.

Even though you have a vision that you’re passionate about, there are going to be times when life conspires to suck the life out of you.

And those are the times that separate those who can from those who can’t.

Albert E.N. Grey boils down success to this very simple point. He says that the successful person has formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do. Remember that.

# 4 Lastly...

Although vision, discipline, and passion rule the world, there’s one last piece that separates those who provide a contribution that endures and those who don’t.

Consider these two historical figures both of whom, had vision, discipline, and passion.

George Washington had the vision of building a new nation united and free from foreign interference.

He disciplined himself to learn how to recruit supply and keep people from deserting the revolutionary army. Angered by discrimination against Colonial military officers, British land policies, and restriction on US expansion, Washington was passionate about the cause of liberty.

The 8th Habit 6

Vision, discipline, and passion.

Now let’s consider Adolf Hitler.

Hitler passionately communicated his vision of a 1000 year reign of the Third Reich and a superior Aryan race.

He built one of the most disciplined military industrial machines that the world has ever seen. If you’ve ever seen him speak, you cannot question his passion.

The 8th Habit 7


Vision, discipline, and passion, without conscience, eventually fail.

So remember, in expressing your voice you need to have vision, discipline, passion, and conscience.

How to help your Business

We’ve covered how you can find your voice and express it. Now let’s turn to how you can help your business, and the people within it unlock their potential as well.

If you are a leader, you will know that modeling the behavior you want to see in other people is critical.

You are on a stage every single day, and people take their cues from you.

A leader that inspires others to find their voice acts with integrity.

So how do you act with integrity?

This is where the first seven habits come in. Here’s the quick rundown on those habits.

The first three habits can be summarized simply as a four-word expression…

Make and keep promises.

The ability to make a promise is being proactive, the content of the promise is beginning with the end in mind, and keeping the promise is putting first things first.

The next three habits can be summarized in a short phrase as well.

Involve people in the problem and work out the solution together.

This requires mutual respect (which is win-win), mutual understanding, which is seek first to understand than to be understood, and lastly creative cooperation, which is synergizing.

The last habit – sharpening the saw – means increasing your competency in the four areas of your life…

Your body, mind, heart, and spirit.

The other big thing you can do to be a role model to those around you is to build trust.

You do that in two simple but compelling ways.

First, you turn trust into a verb.

Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly, that they come to see it themselves.

People tend to trust you more when you believe in them.

Second, you always search for the third alternative.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are in disagreement with somebody or butting heads on an issue, ask this simple question…

“Would you be willing to search for a solution that is better than what either of us has proposed?”

Do all of these things, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a good role model and helping others find their voice.

So you’ve found your voice, you’re expressing it, and you become a role model for your organization. 

Good for you.

However, there’s a reality that you can’t escape if you’re running a business….


No margin, No mission.

Here are the things you need to do to get the entire team working towards the same goals.

The First Thing Path Finding

As The 8th Habit points out, you need to include your team in creating your shared vision, your values, and your strategy.

That’s pretty easy.

Alignment is where the hard stuff begins.

Great organizations find ways to get each and every person pulling in the same direction, from the corner office to the front line, as they say.

The reality is that you can’t be there to guide everybody through each and every decision that they have to make… nor would you want to.

Here are four disciplines that can help you close the gap between focus and execution.

  1. Focus on the wildly important.

People are naturally wired to be able to do only one thing at a time to a standard of excellence. Therefore, have only a few goals that are critical to your success.

  1. Create a Score Board

Create a compelling scoreboard for these goals so that everybody in your organization always knows the score.

A funny thing happens when people know that the score is being kept.

They play to win.

  1. Translate those lofty goals into specific actions.
  1. Hold each other accountable all the time.

What Covey’s done here in the The 8th Habit is boiling the formula down to something very simple but very hard to do.

Implementing these four suggestions will take every ounce of your willpower and discipline…

But that’s what it takes!


Finally, let’s talk about empowerment.

We are in a time and place that people are calling the knowledge age: things are different. One of the most significant differences is how we get the most value out of our workforce.

In the industrial age, it was all about efficiency, boiling down a day’s worth of work into a simple work instruction.

However, as the work changes, our approach has to change too.

Covey argues that, with knowledge workers, we have to let go of control and become a servant leader. We need to hold people accountable for results, but not for actions.

As a servant leader, he says, you would be running along beside your troops and asking the following five questions:

  1. How is it going (What’s the score?)
  2. What are you learning?
  3. What are your goals?
  4. How can I help you?
  5. How am I doing as a helper/ leader?

The biggest thing with empowerment is to understand that you don’t have a monopoly on the best ideas or on the best ways to get something done.

You can hold their feet to the fire when it comes to the results, but when it comes to how something gets done, let them decide their own course of action.

And that, my friends, is how you find your voice and inspire others to find theirs too.

Now, Over To You…

How are you going to find your voice and inspire others? Which strategy from The 8th Habit review is going to be most useful to you?

Or maybe you have a question…

Either way, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as it comes in.

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