Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – The Power Of A Paradigm Shift


I recently read Stephen Covey’s The 7 habits of highly effective people and one aspect that really resonated with me was the section on the power of a paradigm shift.

As I am a visual learner, you’ll understand in a moment why this section impacted me so.


7 habits of highly effective people















To pre frame things for you here, I have taken a section from Stephen Covey’s book below:

” The word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference.

In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world — not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.

We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.”

















Now, take a few seconds and look at the image above.

After you have done that, look at the picture below and carefully describe what you see:



















Do you see a woman? How old would you say she is? What does she look like? What is she wearing?In what kind of roles do you see her? You probably would describe the woman in the second picture to be about 25 years old — very lovely, rather fashionable with a petite nose and demure presence.

If you were a single man you might like to take her out. If you were in retailing, you might hire her as a fashion model.

But what if I were to tell you that you’re wrong?

What if I said this picture is of a woman in her 60s or 70s who looks sad, has a huge nose, and certainly is no model.

She’s someone you probably would help cross the street.

Who’s right?

Look at the picture again.

Can you see the old woman?

If you can’t, keep trying.

Can you see her big hook nose?

Her shawl?

If you and I were talking face to face, we could discuss the picture. You could describe what you see to me, and I could talk to you about what I see. We could continue to communicate until you clearly showed me what you see in the picture and I clearly showed you what I see.

Because we can’t do that, look at the image below and study the picture there and then look at this picture again.
Can you see the old woman now?
It’s important that you see her before you continue reading.
I first encountered this exercise many years ago at the Harvard Business School.
The instructor was using it to demonstrate clearly and eloquently that two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet
both be right.
It’s not logical; it’s psychological.













The exercise that Stephen Covey provides is extremely fascinating, demonstrating the powerful reality that we all perceive things differently determined by influences around us, most of the time we aren’t even aware of it and think it’s the only way things can be.

I liken this exercise to entrepreneurship. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift in your mind, fueled from a sudden fire to make a change in one’s life.
Recognizing that your own best thinking has gotten you exactly where you are now and that you have the power of choice to actually change that.
I originally heard this quote from Dr Wayne Dyer:
“When we change the way we look at things…..the things we look at change.”
So how do we change our current circumstances and live the life that ourselves and our families deserve?
“We don’t have to be great to start but we have to start to be great.”
Applied knowledge is the key in determining your success and building your own legacy.
The power of getting our hands on this education and connecting with people through the internet has never been more powerful than this very moment.


19 thoughts on “Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – The Power Of A Paradigm Shift

  1. Thanks Alesha, it took me a little time to see the old woman. We all see what we want to see, or actually what we expect to see. I remember I saw only bad things in my life for years. It took a lot to change me but now I only see young women in the pictures LOL.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Marko, isn’t it so powerful when we become aware of how we perceive things and even more powerful when we choose to change it. 🙂

  2. Thanks for your feedback Marko, isn’t it so powerful when we become aware of how we perceive things and even more powerful when we choose to change it. 🙂

  3. What’s funny is I saw the old lady first and had to look longer to see the younger one. Haven’t read the book yet but it’s on my list.

  4. Hi Alesha, Love it…the picture of the old lady is great and I truly love the book by Stephen Coveys. I agree, we all see things different and react and see from a very different point of view as every one else. Awesome value….thanks

  5. Thanks Alesha great exercise. I agree that everyone sees things from a different perspective…the trick is to connect the dots so we can all be a part of each others paradigm.

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