Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change: Stephen R. Covey

Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change Stephen R. Covey Book
by Stephen R. Covey

Book Comments & Discussion

'Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change' ('Living the 7 Habits') was first published in Britain by Simon & Schuster in 1999. This is a book of stories about people who have applied the principles Stephen Covey set out in his previous best-seller, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'.

For those who are not familiar with Covey's work, right at very beginning of 'Living the 7 habits', Covey gives a brief explanation of these 7 habits, which are as follows:
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the Saw

Covey goes further and adds a small paragraph to explain what he means by 'Emotional Bank Account' ('a metaphor for the amount of trust in a relationship') and 'Paradigm' ('the way each person sees the world, not necessarily the way it is in reality').

It is logical to expect that from this moment on, based on the 7 habits, the book would be divided into 7 parts with stories to match. Covey, however, does not adopt this approach. Instead, he divides the book into 4 main parts ('Individual,' 'Family,' 'Community and Education' and 'Workplace'). Each part is then again divided into subsections. For instance, 'Individual' is divided into 'Courage to Change' and 'Seeking Life Balance'. This unique structure of 'Living the 7 Habits' serves to highlight the importance placed on the stories, rather than the 7 habits.

Each story, too, has its own structure: the first paragraph, which appears in italics, is short and written by Covey to introduce the habits being discussed. Then, the story itself is written in first person narrative by the person who has used, and benefitted from, the habits. When the narration of the story is complete, Covey returns to add his take on each story or provide further explanation on the issues raised.

There are more than 70 stories in this book. Written by individuals, rather than the omniscient narrator, the different 'voices' of the contributors to 'Living the 7 Habits' makes each story something new and bright. Because the stories are short, simple and effective, 'Living the 7 Habits' is exactly the kind of book to read before bed: the stories are touching, written using simple language and have a 'feel good' factor to them.

Here is a list of three memorable stories:

1. 'Stephanie's Recovery Plan' – Stephanie's husband's story begins with the trauma of discovering that Stephanie had been diagnosed with a tumour in her chest. Thereafter, both of them make a conscious effort to remain positive and plan for her recovery. Stephanie has been cancer-free for 5 years. The story ends with the husband admitting that he's still anxious about Stephanie's condition, but is determined to stick with habit number 3 (Put First Things First) and that is to put his family first at all times.

2. 'You Always Say "No"!' – A mother writes of how her daughter, Alex, returns home from college disgraced. The mother imposes rules which Alex has to live by. In time, Alex becomes frustrated. One day she asks her mother for permission to borrow the car and the mother says no. Alex is upset. Instead of letting Alex's anger get to her, the mother begins to apply habit no. 5 (Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood) and sees that she is being too harsh towards her child.

3. 'I've Tried for Months to Offend You' – This is a heart-warming tale of a young man who joins a company straight out of Harvard Business School. He is 'cut down' from day one by one particular employee, but is determined not to react to this person. Finally, the other employee relents and, eventually, they become good friends.

Towards the end of the book, there is a sense that this book is a continuing project because readers are encouraged to send in their own stories of how their lives have changed after applying Covey's 7 habits. So, isn't it time for you to send in your story?
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"To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change." -- Dr. Stephen R. Covey Success that endures -- sustainable and balanced success -- can seem difficult to achieve in today's turbulent, complex world of change. But those who achieve this kind of success live by seven universal, timeless, self-evident principles that apply in any situation, in any culture. In Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change, Dr. Covey shows how successful people have used these principles to solve problems, overcome obstacles, and change their lives. By showing how real people have used the principles to thrive in a changing world, he provides practical guidance and powerful inspiration to readers searching for a proven framework for living a meaningful life.
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