In today’s post I’m gonna talk to you about the book I have been reading lately, The seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. You might have heard about it, you might have read it, let me just tell you, I loved it. It was recommended to me several times before I decided to read it, and I just finished it during my trip to Romania. It is in top ten of the best self-help book and it’s author was at one point in the top ten most influential people in America.
You might think, just as I did, that it’s a book about getting loads of stuff done. Although it offers some good advice on being efficient, there’s more to it than that. It’s meant to help you in balancing the various dimensions of your life.
I don’t know about you, but usually when I read self-help writings, a lot of eye-rolling happens. So I did have my doubts, but what made me love it, it was how the reading process was more like an ‘aha, that’s interesting’ moment, rather then my eyes rolling. I’m not saying everything Covey says it’s a surefire winning thing, because we are so different as individuals, but it’s worth taking the things that are relevant for your reality and giving them a try.
Even in the beginning, he starts with describing situations that people can relate with, and often what he says makes you think. One of the questions that really stuck with me was: ‘Have you ever did something good just for the sake of recognition?’ I’m going to be completely honest, and admit it, I did. I can think of a few times when I offered to stay longer at work for the sake of being recognised as a good worker, and not because I had nothing else to do with my life. :)) It’s what we do in certain situations, we build an image in our head on how we want to be perceived, but that image doesn’t necessarily reflects our true self.
Also, Covey says there are maps of the way things are, realities, and maps of the way we think things should be. Often, I think our frustrations come from a difficulty in accepting the differences between the way things are, and the way we set out in our mind that they should be.
Another thing that makes it a good read, is that the author shares a lot of personal stories that make it easy to relate to, and mental exercices that keep you engaged. They are taken either from his professional life, or personal life. You know, once I asked a colleague of mine, if he likes a certain Japanese restaurant. He told me, if Japanese people are eating there, you know it must be good. So this is how I feel about these personal stories of Covey’s. 😀
It’s interesting to see, how when we see a life threatening crisis, or when we suddenly step into a new role (parent, leader) we tend to shift our focus from our trivial worries. I had a period, when I was almost panicking about not having enough time for all the stuff I wanted to do all the time, but when someone close to me got in trouble, I forgot to worry about that, and I focused my energy on being supportive of that person.
Me, reading The seven habbits of highly effective people on the coach to Heathrow
Another reason for our frustrations might be that we tend to forget that ‘a thousand-mile journey begins with the first step’ and we want quick-fix solutions for succes, be it in our professional or personal life. Or, quite often, the way we see the problem is the true problem.
The seven habbits are meant to develop a character ethic that leads to balance between the various centers that your life revolves around, and eliminate these frustrations. Stephen Covey defines the habits as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. We all have them, bad and good. But what he is trying to teach is, that we are not our habits, there is always the possibility of reshaping. They are grouped in private victories, or habbits of self mastery, public victories and the last one is the habbit of sharpenning the saw. No, you don’t have to train to be a samurai. :)) I’m not going to enumerate them here, they are worth reading as the author intended to teach them.
The book also offers some interesting exercices, I think my favorite one is how in order to plan your time for a week, you need to recognise the different roles you have as a human being, and plan accordingly. For example, I might be a worker, girlfriend, daughter, reader, cook, spiritual being, so I set up my time according to this.
I found the book quite helpful, on a personal level, in coming to terms with some of the aspects of my reality that I am struggling with.
As an ending note, I definitely recommend The seven habbits of highly effetive people, you might like it, you might not, but it’s the kind of book that will make you think. 😉
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and
he will become as he can and should be.”
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”