Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change

Overview

"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 ...

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Overview

"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.

"The author of the self-help classic presents a collection of personal essays written by people who have successfully applied the seven habits to their lives."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jack Canfield coauthor, New York Times #1 bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series Once again, Stephen Covey has found a way to touch the lives of every man, woman, and child. This book shares extraordinary stories from people who offer you a look into their extraordinary lives.

Richard Carlson, Ph.D. author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and It's All Small Stuff This book touched my heart. It will bring to life and help you put into practice some of the most important lessons of being human. Without a doubt, this is another Covey masterpiece!

Larry King Whether you've read The 7 Habits or not, the stories in this book will change your life.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Covey fans and booksellers alike will be delighted by this collection, perfect for June gift-giving occasions and destined for a long life. For 10 years, the author's famed Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has influenced countless individuals and organizations worldwide--and sold millions of copies. Conceding that the earlier books may have been long on theory and light on practice, Covey and his team culled thousands of testimonials for examples of the principles in action. The resulting collection of more than 75 true stories will satisfy the full range of Covey constituents. Though the storytelling is always first-person, the focus is consistently on the underlying principle, reinforced by Covey's commentary. Handily arranged by situation--within individual, family, community, workplace and educational settings--and varying in depth and power, the stories offer intriguing and provocative lessons. They are mostly brief and often inspiring, but are by no means simplistic; they readily lend themselves to informal teaching and discussion. Some are dramatic and hard to forget: a woman facing a debilitating disease; a convict finding his mission while in prison. Many instructive stories deal with more routine problems, such as how to handle a sullen teenager sensitively or accommodate the needs of an elderly relative. Longer entries from executives of Shell Oil, Olivet College and Alphagraphics, and about the rejuvenation of South Bend, Ind., will appeal to strategic thinkers. This is a Covey classic. Agent, Jan Miller .
Library Journal
Practical applications for Covey's highly effective people.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684857169
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 532,829
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012) was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author. His books have sold more than 25 million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, the leading global professional services firm.

Biography

Stephen R. Covey writes in his blockbuster self-improvement tome, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, about the "social band-aid" effect of much recent success literature, the tendency to create personality-based solutions to problems that go deeper. "Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction," he wrote. Covey acknowledges the importance of the "personality ethic," but he sought to go deeper and emphasize the "character ethic," something Covey saw as a fading concept. He went back further and found inspiration in figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thoreau, and Emerson.

Indeed, everything old is new again in Covey's works. The author himself would admit that nothing he is saying is terribly new; but Covey's synthesis of years and years of thinking about effectiveness resulted in a smash personal growth title -- one that continues to be a top seller nearly 15 years after its first publication. The title, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, makes it sounds like a quick-fix path to power, but Covey's philosophy is rooted in exactly the opposite notion: There are no quick fixes, no shortcuts. He is writing about habits, after all, which can be as tough to institute as they can be to break. His list: Be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; sharpen the saw.

Covey's subsequent titles are based in some way or another on this seminal book. First Things First offers a time-management strategy and a new way of looking at priorities. Principle-Centered Leadership is an examination of character traits and an "inside-out" way of improving organizational leadership. Covey, a Mormon, also wrote two religious contemplations of human effectiveness and interaction, The Spiritual Roots of Human Relations and The Divine Center. These were Covey's first two titles; his esteem for spirituality is not absent from subsequent work but appears as just one more tool that can be applied in self-improvement.

Like Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese?, 7 Habits has been able to achieve astonishing sales success by espousing ideas applicable beyond an office setting. Covey's books are about self-improvement more than they are about corporate management, which has enabled him to create a successful version of the philosophy for families (entitled, of course, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families) in addition to attracting people who just want to be more efficient in their lives, or bolster that diet.

Most attractive about Covey is his versatility in conveying his ideas. His books are structured in appealing, number-oriented groupings ("Three Resolutions," "Thirty Methods of Influence," four quadrants of importance in time management) and big umbrellas of ideas, but within these pockets Covey draws from a wide range of resources: anecdotes, business school exercises, historical wisdom, and diverse metaphors. Sometimes, Covey uses himself as an example. He knows as well as anyone that practicing what he preaches is tough; but he keeps trying, which makes him an inspiring testimonial for his own books.

Good To Know

Covey is married to Sandra Merrill Covey. They have nine children.

Covey is co-chair of FranklinCovey, a management resources firm based in Provo, Utah. He has also been a business professor at Brigham Young University, where he earned his doctorate.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 12 million copies in 33 languages and 75 countries throughout the world.

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    1. Hometown:
      Provo, Utah
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salt Lake City, Utah
    1. Date of Death:
      July 16, 2012
    2. Place of Death:
      Idaho Falls, ID

Read an Excerpt

Getting the Most Out of This Book

Living the 7 Habits is a book of stories — stories about people from all walks of life dealing with profound challenges in their businesses, communities, schools, and families, as well as within themselves — showing how they applied the principles of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to these challenges, and the remarkable things that resulted.

What will these stories do for you? If you're already familiar with The 7 Habits, they will likely renew your understanding and commitment to the Habits and, perhaps more important, stir up new insights into other creative ways to apply them to meet your challenges successfully.

If you're not a 7 Habits reader, these stories will likely renew your faith in your own native abilities and wisdom. I believe these stories will enthrall and inspire you, as they have me, with a sense of excitement and with recognition of your own freedom, potential, and power.

But before I go any further, I should probably make a confession. I've not always been big on the value of stories. My main concern has been that the reader or listener might think I was prescribing the practice in the story rather than seeing the practice as an illustration of a principle. For more than forty years my wife, Sandra, has heard hundreds of my presentations, and almost inevitably, in giving me feedback, she counsels me to use more stories, to give more examples that illustrate the principles and theories I am teaching. She simply says to me, "Don't be so heavy. Use stories people can relate to." She has always had an intuitive sense for these things and, fortunately, has had absolutely no hesitation to express it!

Experience has taught me that Sandra was right and I was wrong. I've come to realize not only that a picture is worth a thousand words, as the Far Eastern expression goes, but that the picture created in the heart and mind of a person by a story is worth ten thousand.

I cannot fully describe the respect and reverence I have for every person who has contributed a story, for their willingness to share their inward struggles to live by universal and self-evident principles. You can tell that all of them are rich human beings who should be respected for what they represent, for what they are trying to accomplish, and for what they have accomplished. Their stories are splendid illustrations of profound change. I feel humbled by their humanity and profoundly grateful for their sharing.

But this is more than a storybook because there is a framework of thinking that permeates all of these stories. That framework is based upon the 7 Habits, which are in turn based upon universal, timeless, and self-evident principles. By universal I mean that the principles apply in any situation, in any culture, that they belong to all six major world religions, that they are found in all societies and institutions that have had truly enduring success. By timeless I mean that they never change. They are permanent, natural laws, like gravity. By self-evident I mean you can't really argue against them any more than a person can argue that you can build trust without trustworthiness. (A diagram of the 7 Habits and a brief definition of each Habit can be found on the inside of the front cover of this book for quick reference.)

It may sound presumptuous, but I believe that all highly effective people live the principles underlying the 7 Habits. In fact, I'm convinced that the 7 Habits are increasingly relevant in today's turbulent, troubled, complex world of change. To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change. Let me reason with you for a moment.

First, let's define effectiveness as getting the results you want in a way that enables you to get even greater results in the future. In other words, success that endures — sustainable and balanced success.

Second, the Habits are embodied principles, principles that are lived until they become habitual, almost second nature. Principles are simply natural laws that govern our life, whether or not we know them, like them, or agree with them — again, like gravity. I didn't invent the principles. I simply organized them and used language to describe them.

I've often been asked, particularly by the media, for examples and evidence. I've shared both extensively. But I find that the best examples and evidence come when I propose, and even challenge the questioners with, this task: "Think of any successful person or family or project or organization you've come to admire for his/her/its enduring success and there is your example and evidence." Whether the admired people are aware of the 7 Habits or not is irrelevant. They're living by proven principles. I've never had anyone seriously argue against one of the underlying principles. They legitimately may not like the language or the description of the Habits. That's okay. They may not relate to the stories at all. In fact, in their situation they may think of an opposite example of the same principle. But the principle of responsibility (Habit 1) is self-evident. So also are having purpose and values (Habit 2) and living by them (Habit 3). So are mutual respect and benefit (Habit 4), mutual understanding (Habit 5), creative cooperation (Habit 6), and the need for renewal and continual improvement (Habit 7). Principles are like the vitamins and minerals found in all kinds of foods. They can be concentrated, combined, time-sequenced, and encapsulated into a food supplement. So it is with the 7 Habits. The basic elements called principles are found in nature and can be expressed in many forms. Millions of people all over the world have found the time-sequenced encapsulation of the balanced set of principles in the 7 Habits useful. The "why" and "how" are shown in some of these stories. Give God or nature the credit for the source nutrients.

My Two Roles

I will try to play two roles throughout this book, guide and teacher. First, guide: If you were a tourist, say, going up the Nile River, you'd probably want a guide to give you an idea of what to look for and of its significance. On the other hand, if you'd been there several times before or had prepared in your own special way for the experience, you might prefer to guide yourself. So it is with these stories. You decide if the guide is helpful or not. if not, ignore the preface.

Second, teacher: There's a short postscript to each story emphasizing a particular point or angle or an entirely new way of thinking that may enhance your understanding and/or your motivation to act in some way. Again, you decide. You may choose to come to your own conclusions or learning and to pass by the postscript. Great.

I've come to believe that repetition is the mother of learning and that if you really want to help people become consciously competent, you should repeat similar words and ideas again and again in fresh ways and from different angles. That's what this book attempts to do. Since it is a book about people trying to live the 7 Habits, the language of the 7 Habits will be found continually throughout the book. The storyteller has often identified the Habit being lived right in the middle of the story. Where he or she hasn't identified it specifically, where it is an important insight, and particularly if I don't mention it in my comments before or after the story, I have occasionally inserted the name of the Habit being practiced in brackets, such as [Habit I: Be Proactive]. If for some reason this annoys you, just forget it and move on, but I am persuaded that it will help most people, 7 Habits familiar or not, become more consciously aware of what principle is operating.

In the postscript I will often mention the Habit again, perhaps with another twist or angle or experience. Remember, the purpose of the book is to help you, the reader, deepen your understanding and commitment to the principles that are embodied in the Habits. Don't allow word symbols to turn you off. The key thing is the principle that exists in nature and governs the consequences of all actions.

Remember, also, that these are self-evident principles. I am only using language that identifies some of the truths you already know deep inside. I'm trying to make them explicit so that they affect the way you think and decide and act. Therefore, the very words of the 7 Habits are only symbols of a world of principles. They are like the key that opens a door to meaning.

These are all true stories and, in most cases, in the actual words of the storyteller. In some cases there needed to be some editing, but every effort was made to preserve the original meaning and intent, the tone, and the spirit of the storyteller. Most of the names of people in the stories have been changed to preserve their anonymity. The exceptions are those who are identified by name in the title of the story.

The Inside-Out Struggle

As you read these stories, notice that, most often, the people take an Inside-Out Approach, usually requiring personal struggle and sacrifice of pride and ego, and often a significant alteration of life and work style. The alteration almost always requires painstaking effort, patience, and persistence. All four unique human gifts or endowments — self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will — are usually exercised and magnified. Almost always there's a vision of what's possible and desirable. And almost always, marvelous things result. Trust is restored. Broken relationships are redeemed. Personal moral authority to continue the upward change effort is evident.

You'll identify with some stories more than others. Ponder the visuals. They were carefully selected to reflect the uniqueness of the stories. As you pay the price with each story and come to see the underlying universal principles involved, your confidence will grow in your ability to adapt and apply the 7 Habits framework to any difficult situation or challenge you may face now or in the future. You'll also begin to see an opportunity in your problems so that your creative powers are released. When we solve problems, we get rid of something. When we create, we bring something into existence. Ironically, the creative mind-set solves problems better than the problem-solving mind-set. You'll see this again and again in these stories. Enjoy them, learn from them, reflect on them. They will inspire hope and increase faith in yourself and in your own creative powers.

Copyright © 1999 by Franklin Covey Co.

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Table of Contents

Contents

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THIS BOOK

INDIVIDUAL

Courage to Change

How Could I Waste My Life?

Moving Out to the Country

It's Never Too Late to Change

Living for Today

My Flower Shop

My Living Nightmare

You're Successful...but Are You Happy?

A Prisoner's Story

Seeking Life Balance

Room 602 of the Oncology Critical Care Unit

Daddy, I Want You to Be Healthy

Wednesday Evening: My Time with Mom

I Looked in the Mirror and Saw a Control Freak

The Surprise Visit

Stephanie's Recovery Plan

FAMILY

Raising Young Children

Because...

The Head-Butt

I Can Choose My Life

Our Family Poster

I'm Not Going to School Ever Again

Daddy, I Gotta Go Potty

Off to Bed!

Grandpa's Lap

The Journal

Raising Teens (Or Is It Being Raised by Them?)

My First Broken Heart

Wrestlemania

Silence Is Golden

The Worst Game of My Life!

Soft-Spiked Golf Shoes

The Destructive Teen

The Heart-to-Heart Talk I Almost Missed

You Always Say "No"!

Ever Tried Communicating with a Sixteen-Year-Old Who Talks in One-Word Sentences?

Raising Boys on Lawns

You'd Really Do That for Me, Dad?

Marriage: Valuing the Differences

Celebrating the Differences

SportsCenter

Love Is a Verb

The Greenhouse

My Free-Spirited Husband

Merging Missions

Miss Superwasherwoman

COMMUNITY AND EDUCATION

Building Community

Brenda Krause Eheart, Founder, Hope for the Children Foundation

Stone

The Rabbi

Leaving a Legacy of Service and Humility

Synergy of a Coach

Saving a Historical Treasure

South Bend, Indiana: Reaching Across Generations to Better a Community

Back to School

Sharlee Doxey-Stockdale, Sixth-Grade Teacher,

Monte Vista Elementary School

Facing Tragedy

Just Cut Through the Bull

Students: The Customer?

Just Try Dismissing a Tenured Teacher

This Classroom Belongs to...Me!

WORKPLACE

Increasing Your Influence

Ninety Days

If Looks Could Kill

I've Tried for Months to Offend You

Do You Just Not Like Working Here?

Gossip Addiction

Managing: Think Win-Win

Fifty Years of Loyalty

Be Patient...They're Learning

The Million-Dollar Question

Shape Up or Ship Out

Closing Down the Plant

The Troubled Employee

Bill Phifer, General Manager, Cosmo's Fine Foods

The Deal Is Off

Finding the Third Alternative

Leading Organizations

Colin Hall, Executive Chairman, Wooltru Limited, South Africa

Doug Conant, President, Nabisco U.S. Foods Group

Pete Beaudrault, COO, Hard Rock Cafe

Chris Turner, Learning Person, Xerox Business Services

Jack Little, President and CEO, Shell Oil Company

Michael Bassis, President, Olivet College

Wood Dickinson, CEO, Dickinson Theatres

John Noel, CEO, Noel Group

SHARING YOUR STORY

QUESTIONS I AM OFTEN ASKED

MEASURING THE IMPACT

ABOUT FRANKLIN COVEY CO.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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First Chapter

Getting the Most Out of This Book Living the 7 Habits is a book of stories -- stories about people from all walks of life dealing with profound challenges in their businesses, communities, schools, and families, as well as within themselves -- showing how they applied the principles of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to these challenges, and the remarkable things that resulted.

What will these stories do for you? If you're already familiar with The 7 Habits, they will likely renew your understanding and commitment to the Habits and, perhaps more important, stir up new insights into other creative ways to apply them to meet your challenges successfully.

If you're not a 7 Habits reader, these stories will likely renew your faith in your own native abilities and wisdom. I believe these stories will enthrall and inspire you, as they have me, with a sense of excitement and with recognition of your own freedom, potential, and power.

But before I go any further, I should probably make a confession. I've not always been big on the value of stories. My main concern has been that the reader or listener might think I was prescribing the practice in the story rather than seeing the practice as an illustration of a principle. For more than forty years my wife, Sandra, has heard hundreds of my presentations, and almost inevitably, in giving me feedback, she counsels me to use more stories, to give more examples that illustrate the principles and theories I am teaching. She simply says to me, "Don't be so heavy. Use stories people can relate to." She has always had an intuitive sense for these things and,fortunately, has had absolutely no hesitation to express it!

Experience has taught me that Sandra was right and I was wrong. I've come to realize not only that a picture is worth a thousand words, as the Far Eastern expression goes, but that the picture created in the heart and mind of a person by a story is worth ten thousand.

I cannot fully describe the respect and reverence I have for every person who has contributed a story, for their willingness to share their inward struggles to live by universal and self-evident principles. You can tell that all of them are rich human beings who should be respected for what they represent, for what they are trying to accomplish, and for what they have accomplished. Their stories are splendid illustrations of profound change. I feel humbled by their humanity and profoundly grateful for their sharing.

But this is more than a storybook because there is a framework of thinking that permeates all of these stories. That framework is based upon the 7 Habits, which are in turn based upon universal, timeless, and self-evident principles. By universal I mean that the principles apply in any situation, in any culture, that they belong to all six major world religions, that they are found in all societies and institutions that have had truly enduring success. By timeless I mean that they never change. They are permanent, natural laws, like gravity. By self-evident I mean you can't really argue against them any more than a person can argue that you can build trust without trustworthiness. (A diagram of the 7 Habits and a brief definition of each Habit can be found on the inside of the front cover of this book for quick reference.)

It may sound presumptuous, but I believe that all highly effective people live the principles underlying the 7 Habits. In fact, I'm convinced that the 7 Habits are increasingly relevant in today's turbulent, troubled, complex world of change. To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change. Let me reason with you for a moment.

First, let's define effectiveness as getting the results you want in a way that enables you to get even greater results in the future. In other words, success that endures -- sustainable and balanced success.

Second, the Habits are embodied principles, principles that are lived until they become habitual, almost second nature. Principles are simply natural laws that govern our life, whether or not we know them, like them, or agree with them -- again, like gravity. I didn't invent the principles. I simply organized them and used language to describe them.

I've often been asked, particularly by the media, for examples and evidence. I've shared both extensively. But I find that the best examples and evidence come when I propose, and even challenge the questioners with, this task: "Think of any successful person or family or project or organization you've come to admire for his/her/its enduring success and there is your example and evidence." Whether the admired people are aware of the 7 Habits or not is irrelevant. They're living by proven principles. I've never had anyone seriously argue against one of the underlying principles. They legitimately may not like the language or the description of the Habits. That's okay. They may not relate to the stories at all. In fact, in their situation they may think of an opposite example of the same principle. But the principle of responsibility (Habit 1) is self-evident. So also are having purpose and values (Habit 2) and living by them (Habit 3). So are mutual respect and benefit (Habit 4), mutual understanding (Habit 5), creative cooperation (Habit 6), and the need for renewal and continual improvement (Habit 7). Principles are like the vitamins and minerals found in all kinds of foods. They can be concentrated, combined, time-sequenced, and encapsulated into a food supplement. So it is with the 7 Habits. The basic elements called principles are found in nature and can be expressed in many forms. Millions of people all over the world have found the time-sequenced encapsulation of the balanced set of principles in the 7 Habits useful. The "why" and "how" are shown in some of these stories. Give God or nature the credit for the source nutrients.


My Two Roles

I will try to play two roles throughout this book, guide and teacher. First, guide: If you were a tourist, say, going up the Nile River, you'd probably want a guide to give you an idea of what to look for and of its significance. On the other hand, if you'd been there several times before or had prepared in your own special way for the experience, you might prefer to guide yourself. So it is with these stories. You decide if the guide is helpful or not. if not, ignore the preface.

Second, teacher: There's a short postscript to each story emphasizing a particular point or angle or an entirely new way of thinking that may enhance your understanding and/or your motivation to act in some way. Again, you decide. You may choose to come to your own conclusions or learning and to pass by the postscript. Great.

I've come to believe that repetition is the mother of learning and that if you really want to help people become consciously competent, you should repeat similar words and ideas again and again in fresh ways and from different angles. That's what this book attempts to do. Since it is a book about people trying to live the 7 Habits, the language of the 7 Habits will be found continually throughout the book. The storyteller has often identified the Habit being lived right in the middle of the story. Where he or she hasn't identified it specifically, where it is an important insight, and particularly if I don't mention it in my comments before or after the story, I have occasionally inserted the name of the Habit being practiced in brackets, such as [Habit I: Be Proactive]. If for some reason this annoys you, just forget it and move on, but I am persuaded that it will help most people, 7 Habits familiar or not, become more consciously aware of what principle is operating.

In the postscript I will often mention the Habit again, perhaps with another twist or angle or experience. Remember, the purpose of the book is to help you, the reader, deepen your understanding and commitment to the principles that are embodied in the Habits. Don't allow word symbols to turn you off. The key thing is the principle that exists in nature and governs the consequences of all actions.

Remember, also, that these are self-evident principles. I am only using language that identifies some of the truths you already know deep inside. I'm trying to make them explicit so that they affect the way you think and decide and act. Therefore, the very words of the 7 Habits are only symbols of a world of principles. They are like the key that opens a door to meaning.

These are all true stories and, in most cases, in the actual words of the storyteller. In some cases there needed to be some editing, but every effort was made to preserve the original meaning and intent, the tone, and the spirit of the storyteller. Most of the names of people in the stories have been changed to preserve their anonymity. The exceptions are those who are identified by name in the title of the story.


The Inside-Out Struggle

As you read these stories, notice that, most often, the people take an Inside-Out Approach, usually requiring personal struggle and sacrifice of pride and ego, and often a significant alteration of life and work style. The alteration almost always requires painstaking effort, patience, and persistence. All four unique human gifts or endowments -- self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will -- are usually exercised and magnified. Almost always there's a vision of what's possible and desirable. And almost always, marvelous things result. Trust is restored. Broken relationships are redeemed. Personal moral authority to continue the upward change effort is evident.

You'll identify with some stories more than others. Ponder the visuals. They were carefully selected to reflect the uniqueness of the stories. As you pay the price with each story and come to see the underlying universal principles involved, your confidence will grow in your ability to adapt and apply the 7 Habits framework to any difficult situation or challenge you may face now or in the future. You'll also begin to see an opportunity in your problems so that your creative powers are released. When we solve problems, we get rid of something. When we create, we bring something into existence. Ironically, the creative mind-set solves problems better than the problem-solving mind-set. You'll see this again and again in these stories. Enjoy them, learn from them, reflect on them. They will inspire hope and increase faith in yourself and in your own creative powers.

Copyright © 1999 by Franklin Covey Co.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Getting the Most Out of This Book

Living the 7 Habits is a book of stories -- stories about people from all walks of life dealing with profound challenges in their businesses, communities, schools, and families, as well as within themselves -- showing how they applied the principles of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to these challenges, and the remarkable things that resulted.

What will these stories do for you? If you're already familiar with The 7 Habits, they will likely renew your understanding and commitment to the Habits and, perhaps more important, stir up new insights into other creative ways to apply them to meet your challenges successfully.

If you're not a 7 Habits reader, these stories will likely renew your faith in your own native abilities and wisdom. I believe these stories will enthrall and inspire you, as they have me, with a sense of excitement and with recognition of your own freedom, potential, and power.

But before I go any further, I should probably make a confession. I've not always been big on the value of stories. My main concern has been that the reader or listener might think I was prescribing the practice in the story rather than seeing the practice as an illustration of a principle. For more than forty years my wife, Sandra, has heard hundreds of my presentations, and almost inevitably, in giving me feedback, she counsels me to use more stories, to give more examples that illustrate the principles and theories I am teaching. She simply says to me, "Don't be so heavy. Use stories people can relate to." She has always had an intuitive sense for these things and, fortunately, has hI believe that all highly effective people live the principles underlying the 7 Habits. In fact, I'm convinced that the 7 Habits are increasingly relevant in today's turbulent, troubled, complex world of change. To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change. Let me reason with you for a moment.

First, let's define effectiveness as getting the results you want in a way that enables you to get even greater results in the future. In other words, success that endures -- sustainable and balanced success.

Second, the Habits are embodied principles, principles that are lived until they become habitual, almost second nature. Principles are simply natural laws that govern our life, whether or not we know them, like them, or agree with them -- again, like gravity. I didn't invent the principles. I simply organized them and used language to describe them.

I've often been asked, particularly by the media, for examples and evidence. I've shared both extensively. But I find that the best examples and evidence come when I propose, and even challenge the questioners with, this task: "Think of any successful person or family or project or organization you've come to admire for his/her/its enduring success and there is your example and evidence." Whether the admired people are aware of the 7 Habits or not is irrelevant. They're living by proven principles. I've never had anyone seriously argue against one of the underlying principles. They legitimately may not like the language or the description of the Habits. That's okay. They may not relate to the stories at all. In fact, in their situation they may think of an opposite example of the same principle. But the principle of responsibility (Habit 1) is self-evident. So also are having purpose and values (Habit 2) and living by them (Habit 3). So are mutual respect and benefit (Habit 4), mutual understanding (Habit 5), creative cooperation (Habit 6), and the need for renewal and continual improvement (Habit 7). Principles are like the vitamins and minerals found in all kinds of foods. They can be concentrated, combined, time-sequenced, and encapsulated into a food supplement. So it is with the 7 Habits. The basic elements called principles are found in nature and can be expressed in many forms. Millions of people all over the world have found the time-sequenced encapsulation of the balanced set of principles in the 7 Habits useful. The "why" and "how" are shown in some of these stories. Give God or nature the credit for the source nutrients.


MY TWO ROLES

I will try to play two roles throughout this book, guide and teacher. First, guide: If you were a tourist, say, going up the Nile River, you'd probably want a guide to give you an idea of what to look for and of its significance. On the other hand, if you'd been there several times before or had prepared in your own special way for the experience, you might prefer to guide yourself. So it is with these stories. You decide if the guide is helpful or not. if not, ignore the preface.

Second, teacher: There's a short postscript to each story emphasizing a particular point or angle or an entirely new way of thinking that may enhance your understanding and/or your motivation to act in some way. Again, you decide. You may choose to come to your own conclusions or learning and to pass by the postscript. Great.

I've come to believe that repetition is the mot her of learning and that if you really want to help people become consciously competent, you should repeat similar words and ideas again and again in fresh ways and from different angles. That's what this book attempts to do. Since it is a book about people trying to live the 7 Habits, the language of the 7 Habits will be found continually throughout the book. The storyteller has often identified the Habit being lived right in the middle of the story. Where he or she hasn't identified it specifically, where it is an important insight, and particularly if I don't mention it in my comments before or after the story, I have occasionally inserted the name of the Habit being practiced in brackets, such as [Habit I: Be Proactive]. If for some reason this annoys you, just forget it and move on, but I am persuaded that it will help most people, 7 Habits familiar or not, become more consciously aware of what principle is operating.

In the postscript I will often mention the Habit again, perhaps with another twist or angle or experience. Remember, the purpose of the book is to help you, the reader, deepen your understanding and commitment to the principles that are embodied in the Habits. Don't allow word symbols to turn you off. The key thing is the principle that exists in nature and governs the consequences of all actions.

Remember, also, that these are self-evident principles. I am only using language that identifies some of the truths you already know deep inside. I'm trying to make them explicit so that they affect the way you think and decide and act. Therefore, the very words of the 7 Habits are only symbols of a world of principles. They are like the key that opens a door to meaning.

The se are all true stories and, in most cases, in the actual words of the storyteller. In some cases there needed to be some editing, but every effort was made to preserve the original meaning and intent, the tone, and the spirit of the storyteller. Most of the names of people in the stories have been changed to preserve their anonymity. The exceptions are those who are identified by name in the title of the story.


THE INSIDE-OUT STRUGGLE

As you read these stories, notice that, most often, the people take an Inside-Out Approach, usually requiring personal struggle and sacrifice of pride and ego, and often a significant alteration of life and work style. The alteration almost always requires painstaking effort, patience, and persistence. All four unique human gifts or endowments -- self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will -- are usually exercised and magnified. Almost always there's a vision of what's possible and desirable. And almost always, marvelous things result. Trust is restored. Broken relationships are redeemed. Personal moral authority to continue the upward change effort is evident.

You'll identify with some stories more than others. Ponder the visuals. They were carefully selected to reflect the uniqueness of the stories. As you pay the price with each story and come to see the underlying universal principles involved, your confidence will grow in your ability to adapt and apply the 7 Habits framework to any difficult situation or challenge you may face now or in the future. You'll also begin to see an opportunity in your problems so that your creative powers are released. When we solve problems, we get rid of something. When we create, we bring somethin g into existence. Ironically, the creative mind-set solves problems better than the problem-solving mind-set. You'll see this again and again in these stories. Enjoy them, learn from them, reflect on them. They will inspire hope and increase faith in yourself and in your own creative powers.

Copyright © 1999 by Franklin Covey Co.

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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, June 16th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Stephen Covey to discuss LIVING THE 7 HABITS.

Moderator: Welcome, Dr. Covey! We are so pleased that you could join us this evening to discuss your new book, LIVING THE 7 HABITS. How are you tonight?

Stephen Covey: I am just great. I just had a satellite tour through 30 cities, so it has been quite a day!


Monica from Lakewood: It has been ten years since your landmark book was published. What convinced you that now is the time to assess THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE's impact?

Stephen Covey: I think that the book being out over a decade has created so much interest, and a lot of people not into the material are wondering if these habits really work. Where is the proof? This book is an answer. Not only do the 7 habits work, but they work marvelously, and they really transform individuals, families, and organizations, and these stories -- 75 in total -- are only the tip of the iceberg. We have thousands of stories, and you don't have to be 7 habits-friendly or familiar to get a tremendous amount from this book.


Tom from Singular: Do the 7 habits have universal application in different countries and cultures? The book is based on U.S. context/reality. Are there plans to customize it to other realities and needs in other cultures?

Stephen Covey: Great question! Interestingly enough, the book has become a bestseller in other countries, including Japan and Korea, and we have dozens of translations by interpreters who are trained in the language and the culture and the content, and this does involve some minor customization. I was just in China, Korea, and Japan, and I taught the principles of the 7 habits as they apply to Buddha and Hindi writings. Last summer I was in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, and taught the same principles partly out of the Koran. The year before that I was in India -- Bombay and New Delhi -- and taught the same principles from the Bagativi. The principles are universal. Not only are they in every major world religion and society that has endured, but they are in everyone's heart, and they are self-evident. Such as, you can't have trust without trustworthiness. Admittedly the practices are western and American, and people might not relate the stories but the principles they relate to. The pain is also universal. This new book has stories from all around the world.


Mindy from Boyton Beach, FL: What habit is the hardest for you to personally follow? The easiest?

Stephen Covey: The most difficult one is habit 5: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." When I am tired and convinced I am right, I don't want to listen. So I have to learn it the hard way sometimes that we have two ears and one mouth, and we don't use them accordingly. If we don't listen first, we will get in deep trouble. The easiest I guess is habit 7 -- "Sharpen the Saw" -- because I have the habit of exercising physically, spiritually, and mentally everyday. But I still have a long way to go on this habit as well.


Rich Cleveland from Huntington Beach, CA: Dr. Covey, how quickly could a person dramatically change their life? The assumption seems to be that important changes must take a long time and be very difficult to make. If change can happen in an instant, what is the formula?

Stephen Covey: The key is to have a paradigm shift, in other words to change how you see yourself and the world. The fastest way to do this is to change your role. When you first became a parent, didn't you see the world differently? When you became a manager or salesperson, you saw the world accordingly, and the change is often instantaneous but also evolutionary. The key is to work on your paradigms more than your behavior and attitude. When I thought the problem was in my son for doing poorly on some tests and came to realize it was in me, that paradigm shift changed my behavior and attitude, and he did well.


Kate from San Francisco: Was it difficult to choose the 75 people in LIVING THE 7 HABITS? How did they make the cut? I am sure there were thousands of stories to choose from.

Stephen Covey: You are right, Kate! It was extremely difficult. We wanted to keep the book relatively short to have each story represent an important category of life, such as personal, family, education, business, community, raising teenagers, etc. We wanted stories that would emotionally grab people fast and that would be a powerful vehicle to communicate not just a moral but also a framework of thinking so that every reader would say, "I could do that too." This was the toughest part of the whole book project. Barnes & Noble is a great bookseller because it also attempts to deal with social and psychological needs as well as intellectual and represents a strong emotional appeal to browse and enjoy other browsers.


Jan from LA: Why did you pick the magical number seven? Why not ten?

Stephen Covey: No particular reason. I have no hang-up on seven even though my wife thinks I do. The first three habits represent the private victory. The next three habits [represent] the public victory, and the seventh one renews the other six. People often ask what about an eighth one and so forth, and I respond by asking them, "What would it be?" They will talk about some other good qualities like patience or courage, and I point out that everything else they would come up with would go under habit 2, called "Begin with the End in Mind," which is where one's value system is expressed. Habit 3, "First Things First," represents the discipline and integrity to live by that value system. Habit 1, "Be Proactive," means you have the power to choose your value system, because you are not a product of your genes, your past, or your circumstances, but rather you are a product of your response to those things. Therefore you choose a value system which you use to make all other decisions by.


Laura from Greensburg, PA: How should parents instill the 7 habits in their children? What is the best age to start?

Stephen Covey: Before they are born, with your good consistent example in the way that you love and respect each other and eagerly look forward to their birth. The next important thing is to constantly give unconditional love and to set up systems that communicate their value and worth and the value and worth of the family, such as a family mission statement, family counsels, private dates, regular family meals, and family traditions. Finally, teach principles so that they become independent and are capable of doing these things to the next generation and contributing to society. Our highest and most important role in life is parenting. No greater contribution can ever be made than building a beautiful, strong family that contributes to society.


Amy from LA: What advice would you give to someone who has just begun studying 7 HABITS and attempting to incorporate those into his/her life? Do you begin with habit 1 or the one that is easier or more difficult for you personally? Each one is so important.

Stephen Covey: The habits are so connected that when you teach any habit you will essentially end up teaching them all. Therefore, I suggest the best way is to start with habit 1, and after understanding it, teach it to others. You will learn the most when you teach. Then go into habits 2 and 3 and so forth and keep teaching. Be patient and kind to yourself and to those you teach, because as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having the human experience."


Pam from Reno, TX: THE 7 HABITS was published ten years ago. How time flies! Looking back, is there anything that you wished that you had included? Anything you would change or take out?

Stephen Covey: Fundamentally no, but we went deeper into habits 2 and 3 through the book FIRST THINGS FIRST. Then we applied the principles in greater depth to the family in THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE FAMILIES; then my son Sean applied it to teenagers in THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEENAGERS, which has sold over a million copies in less than a year. FIRST THINGS FIRST sold over two million, and the family book sold over a million. Now I am working on a book called FOUR ROLES OF LEADERSHIP, which will show how the principles and habits apply to organizations and societies, which is also illustrated in LIVING THE 7 HABITS.


Michelle from Florida: If someone wants to find out more about you and your workshops, is there a web site or an email address they can send away to? Even an address or 800 number would be great. Thanks.

Stephen Covey: All of that is in the new book. We have a web site, 800 number, email, et cetera, in the pull-out piece, as well as on the last page. In fact, it is in all of the books.


Pam from Detroit: What was the most exciting thing that you discovered when researching this book?

Stephen Covey: How universal and self-evident the principles are and also the power of the private victory in overcoming unhealthy competition, jealously and fear, and cultivating happy families, peace of mind, and relationships that value differences.


Beth from Trenton: Does one need to read THE 7 HABITS before picking up your new book? How are the two different?

Stephen Covey: No. People who are familiar with THE 7 HABITS will be thrilled with the many creative new illustrations in the storybook. People who are not familiar will learn them through the stories. Both the back and front cover have brief definitions that can be easily referred to. The first book was heavy on theory, and this book is heavy on practical, inspiring stories that illustrate the power of the theory and the principles. It is not just a book of good stories. It teaches a whole new paradigm that can transform unhappy lives and low-trust relationships into meaningful lives and high-performing fulfilling cultures.


Nancy from South Carolina: In preparation for your books, who or what writings have most influenced your thoughts?

Stephen Covey: The Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Emerson, Gandhi, Sadat, Nelson Mandela, Victor Frankl, and the holy scriptures of almost every tradition.

Stephen Covey: In a mountain cabin with about 55 children and grandchildren.


Mark from Chicago: I understand that your new book is a collection of first-person stories on how the 7 habits have changed lives. Do you have a favorite story in your book?

Stephen Covey: No, there are so many favorite stories based on the category. One of the most impressive is the story of the prisoner who, after being convicted of killing someone from drunk driving, was powerfully changed in his family by the material before he went to jail and had a learning and growth and significant, contributing, and high-trust experience in jail. Another one is the story of Hope Meadows, the creation of a community that saved the unadoptables so they too could contribute.


Pam from Philadelphia: Recommend three books that you have read lately and enjoyed.

Stephen Covey: I just spent an hour with the President of Korea, and he gave me an unpublished book of his personal letters to his family from prison where he stayed true to his principles and wouldn't cooperate with his enemies. Like Nelson Mandela, he forgave his enemies. I also enjoyed Mandela's book THE LONG ROAD TO FREEDOM and B. F. Schumacher's book A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED.


Cindy from Bridgeport, CT: If there is one thing that you want people to take from your new book, what is it?

Stephen Covey: Develop a personal mission statement that taps into your most noble impulses and conscience, then live by it. Also prioritize your family, because no one on their deathbed wishes that they spent more time in the office. Also one more -- rebuild one unbroken relationship you care about, and you will instinctively learn some of these habits. One more -- learn to apologize sincerely so that when you bow, you bow low. Humility is the mother of all virtues, courage the father, and integrity the child.


Moderator: Thank you so much for such an enlightening discussion this evening, Stephen Covey. Do you have any final comments for the online audience?

Stephen Covey: I admire barnesandnoble.com tremendously and believe that you will find this book can significantly impact an already marvelous culture and the quality of relationships with your customers, resulting in increased business and growth -- and by growth I mean in every way: financially, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Just keep blessing lives, and God bless all of you. Thank you for the privilege.


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