Seven Habits Study Guide/Paradigms and principles
Stephen Covey outlines several concepts before describing the "Seven Habits" in detail.
Character vs. personality ethic 
The author describes the difference between what he describes as the personality ethic and the character ethic. The character ethic is the idea that a person advances in basis of their character. This was culturally the main idea expressed in the US up until about WWI, when popular literature began to focus more on short-cuts and easy ways to manipulate situations or to get what you want. Character ethic depends on deep changes within each of us, while the personality ethic falls back on methods or techniques. The personality ethic does not challenge us; neither does it bring about deep changes within us. Phrases characteristic of the personality ethic are think positive and believe in yourself.
Paradigms and paradigm shifts 
Paradigms are the mental maps that we use to describe the world around us. They are the lens that each of us uses to understand everyone and everything. The key of a paradigm isn't as much in the true nature of a thing as much as our perception of the thing.
Covey uses the example of a person trying to find his way through Chicago with a map of Detroit. No matter how hard he tries, he will never be successful. In the same way, when we have erroneous ideas of what something is like, we are destined to fail in dealing with whatever it is. We should work to have correct and healthy understandings of the world around us.
A paradigm shift is when we abandon an incorrect paradigm for a correct one. Covey describes how once he was frustrated in the subway to see the very bad behavior of a man's children, but when he found out that they were coming from the hospital where the mother had just died an hour before, his perspective changed completely.
The key to maintain correct paradigms is to keep an open mind and realize that however much we see, there is always more to the picture.
Principles are time experimented values that have worked through the ages regardless of social context. Values such as "seek first to understand, then to be understood" or "the golden rule: do unto others what you would have done unto you" are the values that effective people of all ages have embraced. They are not quick fixes, not something that you learn and execute over night. They are values that you have to work on and master in order to become effective.
Step-by-step development 
Raising our level of thinking 
Dependence >> Independence >> Interdependence 
The habits are designed, when you put them in practice, to help you mature as a person. This process of maturing is described below:
- Dependence >> Independence >> Interdependence
We all start out life as babies completely dependent on our parents or other person to take care of us. This is a state of weakness and powerlessness.
As we grow up we work to become independent, moving out of our parent's home, earning money for ourselves, etc. A person at this level is able to do things for himself and does not need anyone else to survive.
The greatest human achievements come from people working at the third level, interdependence. This is when people work together to achieve a common goal, and is the level of maturity of many people in a mature society or organization. This is how mankind has achieved things together that no single person could do alone. Interdependence is the state of human development of greatest maturity and power.
As we develop our character as people, we grow in each of the seven areas described by the seven habits. In this process we move up the chart from dependence to independence to interdependence.
Efficiency vs. Effectiveness 
You can be efficient with things but not people. With people you must be effective.
Production vs. Production Capacity 
Production is referred to as a useful product (either tangible or intangible) that is being produced. Production Capacity is the process or method in which that product is being produced. The product is usually a result that is either produced continually or on a regular basis thereby introducing the necessity of keeping P (Production) and PC (Production Capacity) in balance. True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced and the producing asset or capacity to produce.