Not ready for greatness; still working on the effectiveness part

By now you know I love Stephen Covey, however I should point out that I have not yet read his newest book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. So you won’t find that it is part of this Covey-GTD study expedition I’m presently assembling a posse for.

Coincidentally, I just read this review of The 8th Habit by Tom Ehrenfeld, author of the startup garden, for the 800-CEO-Read Blog: His review is called Good and Bad Habits

If you have read The 8th Habit, what do you think? Do you agree with Ehrenfeld? (He did not care for it.)


  1. says

    Hi Rosa,
    I have struggled with Covey’s terminology in both of his works. One of the directors where I work gave me the 5 minute explanation of the 7 habits. It all started to make sense once it was explained in a simple overview.
    Words like synergy and sharpening the saw are really meaningless unless you have a good understanding of the underlying concept. Being a visual person, some of the DVD videos included with the 8th habit really made his tenets come alive for me.
    The 8th habit is a great reference book. Taken as a whole it is somewhat confusing and written in a language that only a philosophy professor could understand.
    That being said, the first part of the book has great insights in it. The section on “finding your voice” forms the basic principles of my blog. As a student in the study of “success” I find that it has been a real struggle to define it. But when you turn it around and list out the 4 characteristics of successful people it all starts to make sense.
    Covey does a great job with these 4 tenets, Passion, Vision, Discipline and Conscience and how they combine to form your individual “voice”. The DVD has some great videos in it and the DVD and the book together are a great value.

  2. says

    Aloha John,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. The 8th Habit has been sitting on my wishlist for a while, and the day is coming when I’m certain to move it into the shopping cart and jump into the reading with relish, however mine is the voice of a true Covey fan talking.
    I think there are a lot of people who can relate to what you are saying here: I’ve picked up the 8th Habit a few times when I browsed in bookstores and it’s intimidating. It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s long, and when you flip through the pages chances are you’ll land on a sample of writing similar to that which Ehrenfeld talks about. You ask yourself, “Do I really want to get into this right now?” and it’s easy to take a different book to the check-out stand instead, deciding to wait until The 8th Habit goes on sale somewhere as an added enticement.
    However you may be selling it to me here when you mention it being a great reference book versus (or in addition to) the explanation of that 8th Habit. There’s a review on Amazon by John-Paul Morgante that says, “What The 8th Habit represents is a book that should be titled ‘Covey’s Greatest Hits.’” Covey did write this 15 years later than the 7 Habits, we know he is a learner, and in my view he writes with a certain vulnerability, i.e. offering his own lessons learned.
    My experience with learning Covey was like yours: reading his books while I was being taught them made all the difference in the world. I’m a coach and I love being one, and I’m hoping that’s what I can accomplish for those who are interested in my 7 Habits and GTD learning project.
    Mahalo nui John.
    Aloha Ho ‘ohana Community: John blogged a bit more about this too. Visit his blog, Success Begins Today for the article. Here’s the link:

  3. says

    I liked The 8th Habit quite a bit. Like some of the other folks here, the terminology was a little odd at first. The concepts were right on. The “find your voice” and “help others to find your voice” concepts are in the sweet spot for what helps managers become effective leaders.
    That same notion of “do something” and “help others do something” applies in many ways – you can apply it to learning, teaching, tolerance, supportiveness, etc. (as you can probably tell, I’m into applying abstract concepts over and over again in different contexts).

  4. says

    Aloha Dwayne,
    Since meeting you I’ve gone back into some of your archives, but I had no idea this was how you started Genuine Curiosity! Even more props to Mr. Covey now, for you know I love your blog and your very insightful writing.
    Did you listen to it on audio AND read the book? For from the comments I’ve been reading here and elsewhere, my purchase is getting closer every day, and I’m starting to think that the audio is the way to go, for I know that Mr. Covey did it himself.
    Your recommendation?
    The way that I annotate books, writing in page margins so profusely I know I’ll want the hardcover anyway, so I suppose my question is if I should consider getting the audio too.

  5. says

    Thank you! I haven’t read this one – audio only, but I’ve used the web site mentioned in the book. This was a pure multi-tasking effort since I had a lot of time to listen to audiobooks in the car earlier this year.
    If you end up getting the audiobook, let me know which you like better (yes, Covey recorded it himself – and did a nice job of it).

  6. says

    Hi Rosa–
    Thanks so much for linking to my post, and for eliciting such great comments. It’s humbling, I guess, to find thoughtful disagreement to my critique of Eighth. I think that part of my disapointment with the book had to do with expectations. I really like Seven Habits, came upon it at a time in my life when it really resonated and taught me a great deal. The new book does make a powerful and useful point, but I found the reading such tough slogging that I ultimately stopped reading. I appreciate the other voices, as it were, of readers of this book.
    By the way, I am very curious if people think that the experience of hearing the book registers differently than reading it. I’ve never done a business book audio tape–yet.

  7. says

    I was given a copy of the 8th Habit by a friend as we stood in the check-out line of a bookstore…she knew I was writing about Wisdom, and she noticed that Covey says what is emerging out of the Information/Knowledge Worker Age is the “Age of WIsdom”. (The Ho’ohana community exemplifying this!). What fascinated me about Covey’s focus on “voice” is that the other encyclopedia-sized book I recommend, The Support Economy, defines voice, along with sanctuary and connecting, as the three psychological drivers of today’s consumers and employees. I confess to have skimmed rather than done a Rosa-style deep reading and annotation of 8th Habit. I read for two purposes: in search of the ideas and trends that are percolating, and for dedicated study and learning. Covey’s book fell into the first category for me, and his review of the leadership literature is also worthwhile.
    Brings me around to the topic of GTD and Covey…I am desperately in need of a kick in the ‘okole to revamp my habits of organization. Having just turned my life upside down to move to Hawaii, my old habits aren’t working and the timing is excellent to produce new habits that work for me. I plan to be a devoted member of this new learning community!

  8. says

    Aloha Tom,
    Mahalo nui for stopping by Talking Story and adding your comment for us!
    First I have to say that I admired your post on 800-CEO-Read: you were honest and sincere, and pretty brave taking on the master in your review! However you sought to include a lot of positives in your writing. You have been very willing to keep discussing this and be open-minded, both here and with the commenters there. You have been a good example of my MWA value Ho‘ohanohano for us, “conducting oneself with integrity and with distinction.”
    So far I’ve only listened to one business book on audio because as a true book junkie and highly visual person I’ve always opted for buying the book itself. I listened to Seth Godin’s Survival is Not Good Enough because a) it was a real steal at only $7.00 in a close-out bin, and 2) knowing Seth had done it himself I looked forward to somehow connecting the real guy to my awe of his writing, for I’d already read (and evangelized) a couple of his other books.
    I enjoyed the audio version very much, however I do know that when the opportunity presents itself (another bookstore, another bargain bin”) I’ll probably buy the book too so I can annotate it, and because I know I’ll get different impressions from the reading than I did from the listening: they are two completely different learning styles.
    Separate from this, you are giving me a terrific opportunity to give you a long overdue mahalo, thank you. I had read your book, the startup garden, when I first decided to go into business for myself and take the self-employment plunge, and you helped me: you wrote a great book.
    (Aloha HC readers: be sure to click on Tom’s name below his comment above to see his website.)
    Welcome to our Ho‘ohana Community Tom, I hope we’ll have the honor of more of your visits here on Talking Story: we’ll always love hearing from you.

  9. says

    Aloha Beth, looks like you and I were commenting at the same time here” I’m calling you after I take the plunge and read The 8th Habit: since you’re living so close to me now we can talk story about it over lunch one day!
    That’s the other great way (and perhaps the best way, certainly the most enjoyable way) to learn more about those Big Thoughts in a book — Kakou, together.
    I’ll be looking forward to it!