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Books like Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Personal ...
Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2014
Books like Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Personal Workbook and its counterpart The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sell for the same basic reason cookbooks or diet and exercise books do: People are eager to improve their lives. I've met several people who feel that self-improvement books are hogwash and say they don't need a book to give them motivation to do something. That's fine, and if you're one of those people, then this book isn't for you. However, if you do happen to struggle with improving certain aspects of your life, you might want to read this. And if you do read it and don't like it, what did you lose, really, except the bit of time you spent reading and the cost of the book?
Essentially, this book is a kind of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a mode of therapy whose sole aim is to get a person to improve his or her stinkin' thinkin'. Any person can do that with a little reorientation regarding what's important to them, especially as these personal values turn into a real action plan. In other words, the aim is to get a person to discover what he or she values the most and then after landing on that then put those values into action in daily life, constantly renewing what was committed to. I'll state this a bit more concretely in a moment, but first let's see what Covey's actual recommendations are.
The first point is that you have the choice to how you would like to respond to any event. You can choose to be angry, choose to be sad, choose to be happy, puzzled, etc., but the ultimate realization here is that between that moment when an external event occurs and your response to that external event, you can choose to respond any way you want. Now, it's true, our default settings are sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes naturally we all feel like we can't choose how to respond to a situation because a feeling overwhelms us. But any time before you find yourselves beginning to act out one of these default responses, ask yourself if this is the only way you can respond to it and if it is the best way.
Points two and three involving keeping your endgame in mind when making plans and prioritizing activities that get you closer to your endgame. A person playing chess wants to checkmate the king. Presumably, a person doing exercise wants to get healthier (or lose weight or feel better, etc.). Think about the ends you want to put your activities toward and realize that if you are getting too concerned in life now with matters that don't matter, that is, that don't match the end-states you want to reach, then maybe you should reconsider the activities you're engaging in now to better reach those end-goals. There should be constant movement toward those ends and less time spent with distracting matters. This step, by the way, involves a lot of discernment on someone's part to find out what he or she really wants to achieve here, and, yes, is very difficult.
Fourth point: When you want to do anything together with anybody, ever, work hard to make the situation a Win-Win situation, and if you can't arrive at a Win-Win situation, then it just must be a No-Deal situation. Any given solution must be good for both parties and if it isn't then it really shouldn't be done. If an agreement is made that's not Win-Win, then one party will feel like he or she is getting the bad end of the stick.
The fifth point is more difficult than it seems, and that is engage in empathic communication with other people. This means listen first before you yourself want to be understand. To make sure you're listening well, track the other person's feelings about something and be able to rephrase what that person's concerns are as though they were your own. If you do this, then you will truly be able to understand another person better.
The sixth point is about creative cooperation, which translates to engaging in activities with other people that will not only be mutually beneficial but will arrive at a result that no one could have done alone. This could be all sorts of things: getting along well with your significant other to make the quality of both your lives better, collaborating with someone at work to do a better job on something, and those kinds of things. As for other points, this is more difficult than one would think when trying to actually make the world better for two or more people. But when implemented, it really strikes at the heart of a lot of problems, which is not making the world better by you being in it; the world should be a better place before of people.
The last and final point is balanced renewal regarding spiritual, mental, social, and emotional priorities. Everyone should be doing something every day to make these priorities a way of life, and that involves the real grind of life. With this last point, I'll be able to give you a practical example of all the points through sharing something personal. Here goes.
Because I realize I can choose what to be concerned about (point 1), I check my anger and frustration and negative emotions. By doing so, I can spend more of my time and energy thinking about what I want to accomplish (2), which is going back to school to pursue clinical psychology with the hopes of one day being a working therapist. So now I prioritize (3) what I need to do to accomplish that goal, namely by taking classes and reading about the field and workplace of clinical psychologists. I plan to move back to the U.S. with my significant other, and we both talked about and understand that to make our relationship work we will need to be together there, and she wants to be in the U.S. and I want her to be there while I pursue my studies (4). I have asked her about her concerns (5) and must take them into account in my decision making. We plan to work together (6) while we are there professionally to have dual incomes, and I and she will also continue to do what we will do to make ourselves happier and healthier people (the final point 7).
This is way too long and all just to say I'd recommend this book, and the counterpart The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It's really helped me to be less of a lazy slub and more of a productive, thoughtful person. I hope it would help some of you too.