Review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is an excellent book.  I have used it for years and found success beyond what I could have done without it.  Other great books by Mr. Covey related to this are First things First and the 8th Habit.

As a 7 Habits practitioner for many years, here is an overview:

  • Effectiveness is a balance between production and production capability.
  • Think of production as golden eggs and production capability as the goose.  There are no golden eggs if you do not take care of the goose.

State of Dependence: others take care of me

  • Habit 1:  Be Proactive
    • It is your responsibility to make things happen; get busy and reprogram yourself.
    • You are the programmer.
    • You are never a victim, if its broke, it’s your fault.
  • Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind
    • In the perspective of your entire life, what do you want to accomplish?  These are the wildly important things.  These are first things. These are priorities.
    • Write your program.
    • The Eisenhower Matrix is introduced and broken into 4 quadrants.
    • You are seeking to identify important but not urgent things and get to work on them.
    • To do this, you need to not work on anything unimportant.  In today’s world of work, everything is declared urgent.  Learn to say no to the unimportant.
  • Habit 3:  First Things First
    • Do first things first and second things not at all.
    • Execute your program.
    • Optimize and execute around priorities.

State of Independence: private victory achieved; I take care of myself

  • Habit 4:  Think Win/Win
    • Have an abundance mentality where there is enough for everybody to win.
    • Avoid win/lose and lose/win scenarios.
    • Seek win/win or no deal and move on.
  • Habit 5:  First Seek to Understand, Then to be Understood
    • Listening skills go a long way towards lessening resistance to your plan.
    • Make sure you hear and understand what others are saying.  The extended team may have red herrings you need to dismiss or may have the key ingredient your plan is missing.
  • Habit 6:  Synergize
    • 7 Habits calls this is the “3rd solution”, your ideas, plus ideas from others makes for the best plan possible.

State of Interdependence:  public victory achieved, we take care of each other

  • Habit 7:  Sharpen the saw
    • This is the habit of renewal.  You need to renew yourself in each of the dimensions below everyday.
    • Always work with a sharp saw.  If your saw is not sharp, it will take you longer to saw down your trees.
    • This habit powers all of the others, creating an upward spiral of capability.
      • Sharpen the Saw Physically:  Take care of your physical body: Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Water.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 1:  Be Proactive
      • Sharpen the Saw Spiritually:  Cultivate your spiritual side.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind
      • Sharpen the Saw Mentally:  Continual honing and expanding of the mind.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 3:  First Things First
      • Sharpen the Saw Socially:  Build and maintain relationships.  Maintain a positive emotional bank account with others.  Do not bankrupt the account by making too many withdrawals.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habits: 4, 5 and 6: influencing and dealing with other people.

Evaluation from personal experience:

  • Pros
    • Applies in all circumstances and offers a way forward most of the time if you are stuck on something.  It gets your creative juices going and you can derive options.  Just review the habits and you can find an actionable way forward.
    • Is effective and works after substantial investment in effort to understand and practice the habits.
    • Powerful web of habits that all align in a beautiful way.
    • Habit 1 is a punch in the face: Be Proactive.  You are responsible for your own life and are not a victim.  It is your responsibility to make things happen for yourself.
  • Cons
    • It is too big to load onto your mental stage all at one time.  You can’t keep it in your head.  I wrote them out everyday for years to get them to sink in.  I have them memorized, but it takes considerable time to even state them.
    • The book is a difficult read. I spent years reviewing and summarizing the concepts into a workable format for myself.  I have never met another individual who understands the entire message.
    • Upper limit: limits spontaneous action if you try to process everything on your plate with these steps.  Hence, it becomes more of a background activity and reminder rather than a front line tool.  if you have time to think, then these steps are helpful.
    • As pointed out by David Allen in Getting things Done, 7 Habits is an optimization methodology that is hard to execute on when dealing with many issues that are overwhelming you day to day.
    • Too many steps, many not needed for every situation.  It is hard to load onto your mental stage quickly and easily.
    • Not fast enough.  You cannot intellectualize every moment.  Chaos will punch you in the face if you cannot operate quickly enough.

Missouri River Expedition

In 2019 Scott participated in a Missouri River expedition spanning 2,341 miles in 5 months and 2 days.

Scott signed up for this life-changing canoe trip padding the entire Missouri River.  The expedition was led by Tom Elpel and partially re-traced Lewis and Clark’s journey on the Missouri River from the 1800’s.  They called themselves “The Corp of Rediscovery”.  An almost magical window opened up and Scott chose to say yes to the trip.  To participate in the 5-month trip, Scott resigned from his job of 14 years and he actually felt free!   Scott discovered Tom Elpel via his year long apprenticeship course under Doug Hill’s Gone Feral: School of Primitive & Traditional Skills which was held in the Front Range of Colorado.  Tom’s books form a substantial part of Scott’s outdoor skills library. The expedition offered Scott a perfect window of opportunity to test his own kit, identify weaknesses, and evolve to another level of competence under Tom’s leadership.

Expedition Objectives:

  • 2,341 miles descending the Missouri River from its origins at Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri.
  • A conduit for exploring the land and its inhabitants.
  • A wilderness skills immersion experience and nature awareness exercising botany, foraging and fishing; seeking a deeper connection with nature.
  • A media-centric fundraiser to purchase land along the Jefferson River for a public campground; local media will be invited out to interview the group.

The expedition lasted 5 months and 2 days. The crew was supported along the way through various Lewis and Clark enthusiasts, the Missouri River Paddlers Association; i.e. “river angels”, earth skills community, as well as strangers.

We posted over 1,000 photos on our Prepped and Frosty Facebook page and updates were also posted by Tom Elpel.  Scott put together a presentation for public speaking and can be found below.  Tom is writing a book about the expedition and it will be available in March 2020.

Click here to order
Missouri River Presentation

Overnight Hike-Ward, Colorado

We had another nice overnight hike to the Gone Feral field site just out of Ward, CO.  The temperature dipped below freezing and winds gusted to 40 mph at night. We are working up to full winter conditions when we will need a fire in our shelter. We experimented this weekend with a fire in the wikiup.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Hide Tanning Workshop-Lafayette, CO

Scott had a fun and physically challenging hide tanning workshop with Doug Hill from Gone Feral.  Making full use of animals was obviously very important to our not so distant ancestors.  The hide has several uses, including tanning it to use as material for clothing and other purposes.  It would take approximately three hides to make a pair of pants and each hide takes an expert approximately 8 hours to complete.  Doug’s course was 3 days long for one hide per student.  There are many methods for tanning a hide, we roughly followed this process:

  • Pronghorn Hides were provided by Doug:  Most hunters do not want the hide and often leave it in the field.
  • Bucking was also done by Doug:  An alkaline solution is created and the hide is soaked for a few days in it.  Bucking artificially decomposes the hide, swelling the grain and membrane layers making them easier to scrape.
  • Scraping:  We wet scraped the hair, grain and membrane layers leaving the densely fibered inner layer accessible for tanning and softening.  The grain and membrane layers are less dense and mucusy.  The mucus prevents the dressing solution from penetrating to the inner fibers and therefore needs to be removed.
  • Sewing:  Artificial sinew was used to sew holes that were in the hides.  Ideally there would be no holes, however pronghorn hide is thinner than most hides and the initial hide removal from the animal must be done with care.  Holes make the process much more difficult.
  • Brain dressing:  We opened up skulls of the pronghorn to access the brains.  The brains were mixed with water and smashed up into a solution.  A general rule of thumb is that the the brain of any animal is enough to tan its hide.
  • Wringing:  The hide was twisted tightly draining off the dressing from the hide.
  • Softening and stretching:  As the hide  begins to dry, it shrinks and hardens.  Stretching the hide while it is drying softens it so that it becomes more like a fabric rather than stiff rawhide.  This is very labor intensive.
  • Smoking:  Once dried and soft it is ready to be smoked.  Smoking the hide provides a degree of weather proofing.  Buckskin is not waterproof, but the smoking increases the resilience to moisture and retards the hide from become stiff when it gets wet. The hide is folded in half and and the sides secured to each other forming a “bag” of sorts.  This can be done by sewing, glue, or clothes pins.   The hide bag is then sewed to a denim pant leg which will go over the stove pipe.  The denim provides a channel for the smoke and provides a buffer area to prevent sparks from burning the hide.  Coals are covered with punk wood to generate smoke.  Fifteen minutes for the first side, reverse the bag making it inside out, and fifteen minutes of smoking on the other side completes the hide.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Recommended Resources: Deerskins into Buckskins: How to Tan with Brains, Soap or Eggs; 2nd Edition


Weekend Overnight Hike-Ward, CO

We love our weekend overnight hikes!  We got out again to do yet another 1 night backpack hike/camp at the Gone Feral field site near Ward, CO. It’s one of our favorite hikes in any weather (about 5 miles). We prepared for rain and we got lots of it, and hail too! We found some interesting fungus growing on and in some aspen trees…it’s always fun looking and finding new things as we hike.  We read that the fungus can be used to help start fires!  Scott made a fire to help keep us warm during the rain and to heat our dinner and we enjoyed sleeping in the wikiup listening to the rain all night.  Our “to do” list this time was to harvest grass so we could weave a new mat to sleep on and Scott practiced his fire making skills.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Colorado Parks & Wildlife-Outdoor Adventure Expo-Cherry Creek State Park

Colorado Parks & Wildlife held their first annual ‘Outdoor Adventure Expo’ at Cherry Creek State Park this weekend.  They personally invited the Gone Feral School of Primitive and Traditional Skills and founder, Doug Hill, to be there along with approximately 20 other much larger organizations.  This was a great testament to the Gone Feral school!  The weekend was all about showcasing what outdoor recreation opportunities Colorado has to offer.  Doug asked Scott to come along to participate and help educate and share with people what the Gone Feral school is all about. Doug & Scott set-up in a campsite.  They did lots of fire-making demo’s using a bow drill, and even cooked over the fire using a primitive cooking structure just like the one used at the Gone Feral field site.  They showcased hand-made bows, natural cordage and baskets weaved out of willow bark.  They also had some hide tanning pieces on display.  Scott had a great time and was excited to be able share his experience and skills with lots of people, including many young adults and kids!

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Overnight Hike-Gone Feral Field Site-Ward, CO

This overnight hike had several objectives.  The first priority was to take down a dead standing tree next to the wikiup which had become increasingly unstable.  Last year it seemed solid, not moving in the wind like the other trees.  This year, you could make it move easily by pushing on it.  A frightening number of healthy trees had snapped off in the winter high winds.  Action was needed once the risk was recognized.    We hope to utilize the tree in the future by splitting it and making some furniture for our day camp / cooking area.  We were able to improvise a flat space using an already downed tree in the cooking area to get us by short term.  Additionally we did a short day hike on a trail that we had not previously explored.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable


Crater Lakes Hike-Rollingsville, CO

Gorgeous 6 mile hike in the James Peak Wilderness near Rollingsville, CO to Crater Lakes…we were above 10,000 feet in these amazingly beautiful mountains with moss covered trees, wild flowers, mushrooms, and brook trout!

~Go, Do, Share, Enable


Day Hike-South St. Vrain Trail

We got out hiking today and took our dog Kaycie on her first adventure hike! About 4 miles (round trip) on the South St. Vrain trail near Ward, CO. We saw lots of wild mushrooms and gorgeous wild flowers!  Check out our FB post here.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable