When reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I found myself mostly comparing it to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The front matter had many positive reviews, but none were left by experts, as seen with Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book. What stood out to me the most was seeing well-known figures like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney leaving a review (Covey 2-4). I believe this best shows how the author, Stephen R. Covey, uses ethos to appeal to the audience. If the reader recognizes that the person leaving a review is successful and famous, they’ll want to see how this book has helped them.
Another similarity with The Secret is when asked by Jim Collins how he [Covey] came up with the ideas in the book, he said he didn’t. Covey’s principles are “natural laws” that had been around long before him. All he did was put them together. “He did not seek credit for the principles; he sought to teach the principles, to make them accessible. He saw creating the 7 Habits not primarily as a means to his own success, but as an act of service” (Collins 29). In her own book, Byrne points out that other individuals have known the secret and withheld it for years, but that she’s the one who will share this simple secret with everyone else. Covey just like Byrne, attributes the knowledge everyone will have access to to himself. They both try to point out to the readers that these aren’t new ideas and so you should take their word for it.
The 7 habits that Covey discusses in the book are:
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
- Habit 4: Think Win/Win
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Habit 6: Synergize
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Throughout the rest of the book you see many examples/stories, some being the author’s own experiences. As Jim Collins states, “he made the ideas even more accessible by using personal life-struggles and stories- raising children, building a marriage, dealing with friends…” (30-31). Here the author is using pathos to seem more relatable to the reader.
Of the three self-help texts we’ve read I think Samuel Smiles had the best advice of daily application and perseverance. When taking the time to understand it, his message is clear. Through the examples of all the failures of now well-known individuals, we come to understand that things don’t come so easy to many people. He also advises us to have the right models to look up to. Stephen R. Covey has a strong emphasis of building character in this text but the ideas were repetitive throughout. The book could’ve been a lot shorter for what he was trying to say. And lastly, Byrne’s text is all about the law of attraction. To her, if you want something, you need to have predominant thoughts about it, visualize and feel it, and you can’t have any feelings of doubt. Putting out negative thoughts only attracts more of it. That text was the most unrealistic.