Stephen Covey and the Effective (?) Habits of The Filipino

I was wondering how Dr. Stephen Covey would look at Filipino culture and our dominant habits as a society. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, what if Dr Stephen Covey, the author of the best-selling “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” were to be asked about what he thinks whether we, Filipinos are an effective people. πŸ˜‰ Why choose the good Doctor? Why not? After all HE, wrote the book!

Are we effective? For how long have we been driving the trisikad? Just like the jeepney, the trisikad has not moved forward from being a Model T to a Ford Fusion.

I imagine that the interview will go this way:



Dr. Stephen Covey says:

Life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. you choose sadness. you choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather. All of these external forces act as stimuli that we respond to. Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have the freedom to choose your response. One of the most important things you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language–I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language–I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do–they have no choice.

Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern–things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive.

My Observations:We, Filipinos are a reactive lot. “Bahala na”, “tadhana” dominates our culture. We do not plan for the future. Sure thing, your deity will provide but your deity helps only those who help themselves.


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

So, what do you want to be when you grow up? That question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you–right now–who you want to be, what you dreamed you’d be, doing what you always wanted to do? Be honest. Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty–successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them. If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

My Observations:We don’t know what we want to be as a nation. We have this vague idea we wannabe respected but we can’t seem to figure out the things and do the things which gain us respect and admiration as a nation. We cling to the occasional individual raw talents – we are content to relishing the one sweet mango tree when our neighbors are making orchards of mangoes that are just as sweet if not sweeter .Is this the end that we have in mind for our country, is it evil to aspire for orchards?

There is no shame in thinking for ourselves. To think for yourself means you have grown a brain – use it well, don’t waste it on wowowee. Unless you want to end as someone who will just wait for the day lady fortune comes to smile on you in wowowee. Will you be doing this for the rest of your life?


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.

Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge. You’re the creator.” Being proactive is about choice. Habit 2 is the first, or mental, creation. Beginning with the End in Mind is about vision. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation. This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. But that’s not all it’s about. Habit 3 is about life management as well–your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.

My Observations:Our priorities are twisted, because of our value of “pakikisama” and “utang na loob” we find it hard to say “No”. Because of this – our budget for food, clothing, and shelter wind up in the videoke joint, in the boutique, in the parlor, or in the mahjongan. We prioritize what our neighbors are doing instead of what we are doing so we always have the latest “tsismis”. In the process we lose time for our immediate family and our well-being.


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

Think Win-Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it’s not fair, and I’m going to make sure you don’t get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really?

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good!

A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:

  1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
  2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
  3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

Many people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that–to achieve that balance between courage and consideration–is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.

My Observations:When da Pinoy gets the short end, he says “syet nagulangan ako.. P.I. nyan. lintik ang walang ganti – gugulangan ko rin siya”.Β  And so we get Ampatuan.

When da Pinoy gets the upper end, he says “ayos ang buto buto, weather weather lang yan”. We get Erap, and his more recent incarnation – Balut .. este Penoy.


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

Communication is the most important skill in life. You spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training have you had that enables you to listen so you really, deeply understand another human being? Probably none, right?

If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating. Do any of the following sound familiar?

“Oh, I know just how you feel. I felt the same way.” “I had that same thing happen to me.” “Let me tell you what I did in a similar situation.”

Because you so often listen autobiographically, you tend to respond in one of four ways:

Evaluating:You judge and then either agree or disagree.

Probing: You ask questions from your own frame of reference.

Advising: You give counsel, advice, and solutions to problems.

Interpreting:You analyze others’ motives and behaviors based on your own experiences.

You might be saying, “Hey, now wait a minute. I’m just trying to relate to the person by drawing on my own experiences. Is that so bad?” In some situations, autobiographical responses may be appropriate, such as when another person specifically asks for help from your point of view or when there is already a very high level of trust in the relationship.

My Observations:I don’t have to go far. All I have to do is look at how people react to – without bothering to read the About Us page. They just barge in here brandishing their swagger as if they are a deity’s gift to the blogosphere. Susmaryosep. Before y’all open your mouths and fire that keyboard – please.. and I say this with all good intention.. Read the effin About Us page.

Remember Carolla? Chip Tsao? We didn’t even understand the context but oh hell yeah – we had to show the world we were the greatest the finest country on the planet. We went in there guns ablasting – seeking to be understood first. When the dust settled – the world saw and understood what a bunch of baboons we, supposedly great people, were.


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

To put it simply, synergy means “two heads are better than one.” Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results that they could individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. One plus one equals three, or six, or sixty–you name it.

When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. The capability of inventing new approaches is increased exponentially because of differences.

Valuing differences is what really drives synergy. Do you truly value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people? Or do you wish everyone would just agree with you so you could all get along? Many people mistake uniformity for unity; sameness for oneness. One word–boring! Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses. They add zest to life.

My Observations:Once uponΒ  a time in a blog faraway, there was these kindly gentleman albeit misguided who said the bloggers on AP were cowards for banding together instead of staying in FV. Come to think of of it, Who really was being the coward? Was there anything in our comments and articles that was dangerous and fearsome that our blog posts were deemed as not being fit for publishing on FV? Despite that, we soldiered on through the comment threads. I communicated through back channels to no avail. I believe we have a message to say – and moderation will not get in our way. In leaving FV, we were courageous and bold – daring to explore uncharted territory that other blogs wouldn’t dare touch. It wouldn’t have have been possible without synergy. The AP crew and the readers interacting to widen the knowledge base.

Do not mistake Synergy for cowardice – because teamwork not only moves mountains, it also blasts mountains apart – or drill tunnels through it.


Dr. Stephen Covey says:

Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. Here are some examples of activities:

Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting

Social/Emotional: Making social and meaningful connections with others

Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching

Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. Sharpen the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal–a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.

My Observations:We Filipinos, cling too much to tradition, even if the tradition no longer works for us.Let us keep the traditions that work – and discard the ones that don’t. Pakikisama has gotta go outside the window.
We do not sharpen our saw – we do not review what works and what does not work for us, preferring instead in blind belief in the absence of evidence or in the presence of overwhelming contrary evidence.

We want to feel good without having to renew ourselves. We are afraid that foreigners might exploit our lands when we should be asking what exactly have these foreigners seen in our land that we can partake. How do we acquire that knowledge so that we, too can think on even parity, to be in the shoes of our competitor.

“Know thy enemy and know thyself and you shall win a thousand battles – Sun Tzu, Art of War.”


Y’all know the conclusion that I make – we have a long way to go from being considered effective, let’s not kid ourselves.

The question as always is – are we, Filipinos, ready to step up to the plate?

What do you think? What has been your experience?


1 –



  1. Anonylol · ·

    Where is that cool looking tricycle from?

    Depressing contrast is depressing.

  2. ***********************************
    If this is the second time you see this sorry.
    Sometimes posts get eaten up.

    I always recommend this book whenever I do training for new people here in the office. First read it 15 years ago. It does not even ring a bell with my incoming students.

    Let me skim some of the habits and apply it here:

    1) be proactive- well we litter the streets and public places. Cigarette butts , wrappers , whatever. Who do we expect to clean it up? Ok so proactivity needs some work.

    2) think win win- Jeepney drivers ignoring opposing lanes and red lights. People with wang wangs who are so important I am surprised there is no mandatory genuflection while they ignore traffic regulations because of their deity mandated significance. In more considerate and civilized cultures, traffic pulls over for ambulances with sirens because it could mean a life. No such consideration for ambulances in Metro Manila. Only omnipotent politicians.

    3) Seek First to Understand . very good example. Pinoys very sensitive on how they are portrayed in other lands and even hold foreign governments accountable for the content of entertainment shows. As we all know the Philippines is a very feminist friendly country. Not crass at all with mannerisms. Not remotely racist.

    I have too many examples here.

    4) Sharpen the Saw- Even among the moderately educated, for them learning stops once diploma is in hand. Reading a book or watching an educational show is such rarity. Look at 6 PM network news. With the intonation of Wrestling. And less cerberal I might add. We as a culture value dumb. Look at what people watch and read. Wowwowwee , telenovellas etc. That is why come election time people are so easy to fool.

    Noynoy, Erap, The Senate.

    I skipped my lunch time nap to write this. Maybe I am the one dumb.

  3. I can guess a typical Filipino’s reaction to this:

    “Ano? Seven Habits? Eh kung anong gawa-gawa lang yan ang Kano eh! Pilipino tayo! Masmagaling tayo!”

    Here’s a Flip Gunggong as Ulong Pare would say. πŸ˜†

  4. Pakikisama and utang na luob is well-overused among Filipino businessmen.

    That’s why lechon business is very lucrative during festive seasons like Christmas.

    A friend of mine usually orders 50+ for a small business of his.

    Usual Intended recipients would be govt officials.

    Wonder why others can’t compete? They simply can’t of wont spend for 50+ lechon.

  5. 7 Habits training is very popular seminar program for private companies especially export processing enterprise.

    The reaction is quite good except that the seminar is too expensive for a common pinoy. Eh pwede naman basahin lang. Dito kay BongV, libre.

    It normally runs tens of thousands of pesos for a session conductor.

  6. The sad part about motivational stuff is that it’s being made into a business by local people. Then sometimes, some Pinoys twist the facts around in their own favor. For example, a boss will say to their subordinate, “Begin with the end in mind, diba? OK, I’ll tell what end to have in mind…” Same old idiotic authoritarianism comes out. Or boss again to subordinate, “Akala ko win-win! So dapat ako mag-win! Dapat ako ang may masmagandang deal! Palpak negotiation mo!” Di naman inapply ang 7 habits.

    Pilipino talaga, ginagamit ang talino sa panloloko.

  7. ABS CBN/ GMA won’t show stuff that will stimulate your cerebral juices for the simple reason that it won’ rate. Audience will not respond to it. So cycle perpetuates. It does not take much to go to a second hand book store or stall in the mall and to find gold for 100 pesos. Which is less than some McDo combos. But the market asks for Korean soaps so that is what we get. And the results really showed up in the polls in this year in terms of mental processing of the pinoy of the candidates and the issues.

  8. kung tutuusin, just buy the book and read it – it is written in conversational English. there are lots of paperback copies that will cost less than 3 cellphone reloads. first things first – cellphone muna πŸ˜†

  9. Hyden Toro · ·

    Dr. Covey is a good motivator and lecturer. He informs his student to have a Paradigm to succeed. These are very practical steps. If you are a singer, practice singing everyday. If you are a writer, write everyday. If you are a boxer, spar boxing everyday like Pacquiao. However, the mind has more to do, than just sharpening your skill. You must cleanse your mind of its clutters, thru Meditation. We have not yet learned to fully utilize the power of our minds. “Whatever you conceive; it can be achieved”, states Napoleon Hill, another good author motivator. The use of the Sixth Sense, for which you can see what cannot be seen by the naked eyes; is not yet fully understood. Just using the Emotional self, to see the unseen…this is the frontier that needed to be explored.

    Mind over matter is a very interesting field …to go where no one has gone before. It is the reason we are mostly Tsimays and Tsimoys of the world. We have the poverty mentality. Our leaders want us to remain this way. We are gullible voters; easily swayed by gimmicks, promises and other tricks.

  10. Hyden Toro · ·

    Wowoowee is a poverty mentality program of the Lopez Media Network. It exploits the poor, by giving them prizes. To make them fall in line, in unholy hours. Just have a chance of winning prizes. It’s like the lottery, jueteng, or game of chance programs. It does not teach: good skills; good habits; acquiring of skills; acquiring of knowledge; discovering you talents and utilizing them. etc…neccessary tools to succeed in life.

    Anyway, “wala na yung, igiling mo, baby.” Revillame is not there anymore with his scantily dressed gyrating dancers.

  11. Once, 1100 years ago, Tilopa and Naropa were walking along a road in India. Naropa, a former professor, saw everything colored by his many concepts – when suddenly a snake was lying there, looking just as complicated as his mind. Tilopa touched the snake with a stick, and as they watched it sliding off, he asked:

    “What happens to your thoughts when they disappear, Naropa, how REAL are they then?”

    Everything happens in our minds but we have to put them into actions. I think the Filipinos are starting to use their minds. The majority of the voting population did not vote for Pnoy. It is getting better, yes, I think so.

  12. Hyden Toro · ·

    “I think, therefore I am”, is a true saying. If you focus and concentrate long enough. What you are focusing will materialize. This is the reason the Yogis of India can lie on a bed of nails, and not get hurt. Some even walk on burning embers. They don’t burn. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There is no magic. Just the power of the mind. They can even read your thoughts.

    Do you understand, why the Lopez Media Network is focusing always on EDSA. And on Noynoy Aquino as an able leader?

    They can make you vote for a monkey, as President. Just by constant suggestions and subliminal techniques. Watch what you put in your mind. Don’t put rubish. Always clean your mind of useless clatter eveyday.

  13. Pwede siguro gawan ng Komiks edition. da Pinoys love komiks more than any self-help books.

  14. well, i’ll need extra hands on deck – you up for it – we can roll it out, we can have – Comics Edition – i’ll set you up as admin.. careful what you wish for πŸ˜›

    the “world edition” is for more general reading, we are developing an “in-depth” section which will be for more “technical”/white-paper type of posts. it’s in – “Anti-Pinoy: In-Depth Edition”

  15. [quote]The majority of the voting population did not vote for Pnoy. It is getting better, yes, I think so.[/quote]

    I was about to agree, but then I realized that Erap was the runner up in the race. 😦

  16. @BongV…opps I feel honored but neither do I have comic skill nor the time to handle it at this point. My chance to AP involvement is in between long compilation time between source code bug fixes.

    In-depth would be better.

  17. Thanks for highlighting the often misused Filipino traits “utang ng loob” and “pakikisama”.

    My uncle, who has a cushy high paying job in the PNOC, is always admired by his friends because of his generosity. So generous, in fact, that he lends out so much of money to his friends and ends up appropriating only a little to his immediate family. Their house right now isn’t looking too good, and his son is now a drug addict–maybe because of neglect.

    When asked, my uncle would only say “Para walang masabi sa kin na masama yung kaibigan ko”, but I wanted to blurt out, “what about your family?” because it’s already too obvious and I think he already got similar remarks from my mom and his other siblings.

    Also, the way officemates say “wala ka naman pakikisama eh” when you beg off from going to their after office hour drinking binge never fails to make me rage.

  18. @Lilly

    Ouch! Back to reality…again! But Erap would be much easier to overthrow? I am wondering why Erap was invited to the inauguration? What are they cooking??

  19. remember that cory and erap have made up. so, keep your ears and eyes open πŸ™‚

  20. Step up to what plate? The U.S. and various European countries are failing horribly, and Japan and even China will soon follow.

  21. If the US and the European countries despite the perception of “failing horribly” what do you call the Philippines – “failing horribly ad infinitum” πŸ˜†

  22. If the US and the European countries are failing horribly” what do you call the Philippines – “failing horribly ad infinitum” πŸ˜†

  23. Have to agree with this… we didn’t feel much of the US depression because we’ve already been in depression since then. There’s little left to sink down into. That’s a fact.

  24. NFA rice · ·

    the US and the European countries are failing that’s why Filipinos are coming there in droves.

  25. GMA, not much…not its daughter station QTV, at the very least. On weeknights, at 2015-2100, they have “Tonight with Arnold Clavio,” and so far, it’s rather civilized…emphasis on “so far.” God willing, they don’t derail it like they did “News on Q.”

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