The author of the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” died this week at 79. After Stephen Covey wrote this book in 1989, it was more than five years on the New York Times bestseller list, and it has sold 20 million copies.
I love this book for the behaviors that I have learned from it. My first introduction was to see on TV two seminar attendees in an arm-wrestling position, while Covey challenged them to see how many wins they could get in three minutes. As beads of perspiration appeared, one competitor grimaced as he struggled to achieve two or three wins. However, the audience was thunderstruck when Covey sat down with the loser, whispered in his ear, and the two of them rocked their locked arms back and forth in unison, making more than 20 wins in the allotted time. The message was as clear as crystal: Seek a win-win.
Years ago my nephew Matthew wrote me from Australia, and asked me for life-advice. Oh my! What do you say to a 19 year old on the threshold of his working life? As I was reflecting on this, a two-word answer popped into my mind: Be proactive. It means when you see or sense a problem, start addressing it. Do not wait until it bites you, because then you are in a reactive state and can easily become upset and angry. I’ll have to ask Matthew if that advice, which came straight out of Covey’s book, has helped him in his successful IT career.
To illustrate another habit (Begin with the end in mind), Covey asked readers to visualize their own funerals, and in particular to imagine what difference they had made in the lives of those who attended the funeral. Although it’s hard to do if you are younger, because death seems so far away, it can affect the priorities in your life. I wonder if Michelle the coangel** was aware of this when on one hike to Canyon del Oro she urged us to “Help someone to hope?” What better way to make a difference in someone’s life!
Covey would also quote Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a French Jesuit philosopher): “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. Ah! that is also what the Bible says about life’s priorities.
The list of 7 habits:
Begin with the end in mind
Put first things first
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Sharpen the saw
If you read only one more book this year, read Stephen Covey’s brilliant book. For young people embarking on a career, this is excellent training for behaviors in the working world. For everyone, it is a world-class guide for living life.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….
**See the book Hiking Toward Heaven.
“Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are” (Matthew, chapter 6).
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