7 habits of highly effective teens summary

7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens BOOK Summary & Notes

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Author: Sean Covey

Published: 1998 by Simon & Schuster


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“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?”

“We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.”

“If you decide to just go with the flow, you’ll end up where the flow goes, which is usually downhill, often leading to a big pile of sludge and a life of unhappiness. You’ll end up doing what everyone else is doing.”

Get in the Habit

Habits are things you do repeatedly. They are activities that are on autopilot to conserve energy in your brain.


There are good and bad habits. Depending on what they are, they will lead you uphill or downhill. Teens need good habits to be successful and experience change in their lives.

Covey created the 7 habits of highly effective teens based on his father, Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book aims to help teens deal with real life. This functions as a compass in finding their north star to navigate through life. By doing so, they will discover their purpose and identity, create a good relationship with others, and improve themselves.

Paradigms and Principles

Paradigms are another word for perception, your point of view, the frame of reference, or belief. Often it is not accurate and incomplete.

Paradigms are like glasses. When you have inaccurate paradigms or lenses about yourself or life in general, it’s like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription.

For example, if I believe I can’t speak in front of people, that very belief will disable me to speak. On the other hand, if I believe I can inspire others by my words, that belief will shed a color on everything I do.

All of us have paradigms about ourselves, about other people, and about life, in general. But it should be a positive paradigm.

Some Paradigms of Life

Friends-centered – it’s okay to belong to a great group of friends but it should never become the center because sometimes they’re being fake. If you base your identity with friends, you’ll find yourself compromising your standards just to meet theirs.

Stuff-centered – some people base their value through the lens of possession. It’s not a good paradigm because possessions have no lasting value. Our confidence comes from within not without.

Boyfriend/girlfriend-centered – independence is moe attractive than dependence. Centering life with them shows you don’t love them, you’re just dependent on them.

School-centered – Education is vital but you can do well in school and also enjoy your youth.

Parents-centered. Pleasing them above everything else is a nightmare.

There are other possible centers like sports, hero, enemy, work, and the most common: self.

The Real Thing: Principle-Centered

Living by principles never fails. It’s natural law. Meaning, they apply equally to everyone. Some examples of principles are honesty, love, integrity, loyalty, responsibility, and more.

What if you live in a culture where they have a wrong perception of things? The good news is that you can change the way you perceive things. You can become a ‘change agent’. It’s called a paradigm shift, you suddenly see things in the other way.

Personal Bank Account

Like a checking or savings account at a bank, you can make deposits into and take withdrawals from your Personal Bank Account by the things you think, say, and do.

If you have poor PBA, you will probably break a person’s promises, keep things to yourself, beat yourself up, be dishonest, wear yourself out, neglect your talents.

If you have a rich PBA, you deposit by doing small acts of kindness, honesty, renew yourself.

Remember that there are no small or big deposits. Everything that you do that makes you and others feel better is a good deposit. For example, offering a free ride, treating someone a coffee. PBA deposits lead to a successful life.

Habit #1: Be Proactive

Highly defective teens immediately react if things don’t go their way. Reactors blame everything on their parents, teachers, neighbors, government, or somebody else. They think they are the victim.

On the other hand, one habit of highly effective teens is being proactive. They take responsibility for their lives. They make choices based on values, think before they act. They understand they can’t control everything that happens to them but can control what they do about it. They are often calm and cool.

One characteristic of proactive teens is that they watch their language. They don’t utter rude comments. From this, I learned that if I had a bad day or made mistakes, it’s beneficial to say ‘I’ll do it’ ‘I can do better than that ‘Let’s look at other options.

To be proactive, the author suggested four tools: self-awareness, conscience, imagination, and willpower. Self-awareness is observing your thoughts and actions. Conscience is listening to our inner voice to know right and wrong. Imagination is envisioning new possibilities. Willpower is the power to choose.

All people (including me) should be proactive because we have the ability to bounce back from negative events. There are things we can’t control such as the weather or time but we can choose not to dwell on them. Instead, shift our focus to the more enjoyable aspect of life.

Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind

Highly defective teens have no end in mind. They have no plans, no goals, no direction. They never think about tomorrow and they’re lazy.

In contrast, highly effective teens know their passions and end goal.

Before building a house, you draw up a blueprint. You read up a recipe before baking. Highly effective teens have their blueprint in life, their ‘personal mission statement’. This is like a personal credo or motto that states what their life is about.

If you know your end goals and values, you will work hard, study, listen in class, and do other decisions that you know are right.

If you are not in control of your destiny, someone will do it for you. For example, a person who doesn’t know his/her goals might follow along with the same interests as his/her friends.

There are four methods to develop a mission statement. First, use your favorite quotes. Second, write about your mission for fifteen minutes. Keep writing and don’t stop writing. Write whatever comes to mind. That’s a rough draft of your mission statement. Third, go to a place where you have the chance to be alone. Think deeply about your life. Fourth, don’t try to make your statement like everyone else’s. You are writing for yourself, not others. After writing, put it in a place where you can easily access it then refer to it often.

Habit #3: Put First Things First

Highly defective teens put first things last. Things that don’t matter like watching too much TV, surfing the net mindlessly, talk endlessly with the phone.

On the other hand, highly effective teens define their priorities and do the most important things first. They know the difference between what’s important and not important, urgent, and not urgent.

The not important and urgent combination is for procrastinators. For example, they have an exam tomorrow but they wait until the last minute to study.

The important and not urgent combination is for the prioritizers. They plan their goals, exercise, relax, and have met relationships. In short, they live stress-free life.

The not important but urgent is for the yes-man. They cave in to peer pressure, talk about other people’s problems and say yes to things they’re really not interested in.

The not important and not urgent combination is for slackers. They waste time with endless phone calls, too many video games, and other time-wasters.

I learned that I have to be a prioritizer. In order to do so, I must make a plan and make sure to do important things such as studying or visiting a friend.

Relationship Bank Account

Before, we learned about the PBA. Now we learn about the Relationship Bank Account. It’s like a checking account at a bank where you can make deposits and improve the relationship or take withdraws and weaken it.

You can have RBA with everyone you meet. You can open a bank account with him or her.

Like PBA, they have the same concept. You can deposit by being kind, being loyal, listening, saying sorry, and set clear expectations.

I learned that we must try to make deposits into every relationship whenever and wherever we are able.

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

Highly defective teens think win-lose. If they sense competition, they drag someone down with them.

Conversely, highly effective teens have an attitude that everyone can win and be happy.

Besides win-win, the author also mentioned win-lose, lose-win, lose-lose situations.

A win-lose situation involves one person having an attitude toward life that says the ‘pie of success’ is so big. “If you get a big piece there is less for me so I’ll always get the bigger piece.”. They put other people down without considering their feelings.

Lose-win is an attitude where people find themselves setting low expectations and compromising standards again and again. They give in to peer pressure. These people allow others to win, and they lack the willpower to fight when they’re being stepped on. Often they’re being abused.

Lose-lose attitude says “If I’m going down, then you’re going down with me.”

A win-win belief is that everyone can succeed. It’s about both of you. You can achieve a win-win by winning the private victory first. Let go of insecurities and be happy for other people’s success. Comparing and competing brings defeat.

I like the quote by “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Highly defective teens seek first to talk, then pretend to listen.

On the other hand, highly effective teens listen genuinely. They understand that the deepest need of the human heart is to be understood. if people felt that you value and respect them they will open up and let their guard down.

Five poor listening styles include spacing out, pretend listening, selective listening, word listening, self-centered listening.

When listening, don’t just try to listen to the words but feel the emotions. Try to observe their gestures to get what they’re saying.

One tip mentioned by the author was mirroring. You put the person into your own.

Seeking to understand first is crucial especially in building relationships. Make sure to give feedback after listening to someone. In doing so, you make good RBA deposits.

Habit #6: Synergize

Highly defective teens don’t cooperate. They think they’re a one-man show. They don’t need someone and can do everything by themselves.

Highly effective teens work together to achieve more.

Synergy is celebrating differences, teamwork, open-mindedness, and finding new and better ways. We’ve seen synergy even in plants and animals. For example. if you’ve seen a bird feeding off the back of a rhinoceros. The bird gets fed, the rhino gets cleaned. They are beneficial to each other.

Synergy is a process that can be achieved by celebrating differences.

There are 3 possible approaches:

  1. Shun diversity – afraid of differences. It disturbs them that someone may have a different skin color, worship a different God. They believed they have the best or only way.
  2. Tolerate diversity – they agree that everyone has the right to be different. They don’t shun but they don’t’ embrace it either.
  3. Celebrate diversity – they value differences. They realize that diversity is an advantage, not a weakness.

All people learn differently. Some learn through language, some by logic, or bodily sensations, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal. Everyone sees differently and has a different paradigm. So it’s important to synergize.

But there are barriers. One of them is ignorance, being clueless about what others believe and how they feel. then there are cliques who ignore anyone who is not in their group. There is also prejudice.

There are 5 steps to synergy:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Their way
  3. My way
  4. Brainstorm
  5. High way

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

Highly defective teens wear themselves out. They become so busy with life that they never had the time to improve themselves. They never study and don’t learn anything new.

Highly effective teens renew themselves regularly. There are four components you should strengthen regularly: body, brain, heart, and soul.

To take care of the body, you can do exercise, eat healthily, sleep well, relax. Believe “You are what you eat”. Try to be moderate, and avoid extremes.

To take care of the brain, you can read, write, learn new skills. You can also play chess, attend lectures, and visit the library. Taking the time to take care of your brain can bring you more opportunities than people who are lazy.

To take care of the heart, build relationships. You can deposit to your RBA.

Lastly, take care of your soul by meditating, keep a journal, praying. By doing this, you get in touch with your inner self.

Although this seems overwhelming, the author mentions, “there is a time for everything.”

Keep Hope Alive

The habits mentioned here are to provide hope in finding answers to your problem and in reaching your fullest potential. You can say “I can’t do this.”

But remember that little by little, you’ll see changes. Eventually, you’ll feel happier, healthier, and you’ll increase confidence. It all begins with a single step.

Even if you fall short, don’t get discouraged. You can take off course but there’s always a way to reach your destination. It will all be worth it.


After reading this book, I said to myself “I should have read this earlier in my life.”

I would’ve been a smarter and highly effective teen. Sad that I’m no longer a teen now but the lessons mentioned here still apply to me. I like how the author differentiated defective and effective people. It made me evaluate myself. It’s never too late to be an ‘effective’ person who knows how to grip her life and emotions.

I’ve read the original version before, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But I never finished it. I can still remember the concepts though. This version is the same 7 habits but full of cartoons, spaces to write, reflections, and stories, which is more interesting. So for people whose reading isn’t their thing, I suggest give it a go.

I would definitely give recommend this book to the younger generation. Even in my adult friends or my parent’s friends. Many people are undisciplined and they’re lost in their lives.

We face so many challenges in our society today, but I believe it can be fixed if we take these habits to heart.

If people start reading this book, this will change their life, giving them the right perspective on the way they see their problems. This book is not just for teens, it’s for anyone, really.


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