Living the 7 Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration

Overview


To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change. 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. -- Stephen R. Covey

Featuring the Author

In the ten years since its publication, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has become a worldwide phenomenon, with...

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Overview


To live with change, to optimize change, you need principles that don't change. 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. -- Stephen R. Covey

Featuring the Author

In the ten years since its publication, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has become a worldwide phenomenon, with more than twelve million readers in thirty-two languages. The principles it teaches are more relevant than ever in today's uncertain world.

Living The 7 Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration captures the essence of people's real-life experiences, applying proven principles to help them solve their problems and overcome challenges. In this uplifting and riveting collection of stories, listeners will find wonderful examples of hope and encouragement as they are touched by the words of real people and their experiences of change -- change that got them through difficult times; change that solved family crises; change that mended broken relationships; change that turned their businesses around; change that influenced entire communities.

The listener's understanding is enhanced by the personal commentary and added insights of Dr. Stephen R. Covey, as he explains how the application of his principles aided each situation. Whether you have read his previous works or not, these touching and powerful stories will enthrall and inspire you with an energizing recognition of your own freedom, potential, and power.

"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

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.
From the Publisher
John Gray author, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Stephen Covey has touched the lives of many. This book offers hope and proves the "7 Habits" are truly worth LIVING.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684869810
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/1999
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey 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.

From: Back to School

Sharlee Doxey-Stockdale SIXTH-GRADE TEACHER, MONTE VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


As you study the objectives and methods of this outstanding teacher, notice how she encouraged her students not only to understand the 7 Habits, but to constantly refer to them in identifying different behaviors. A common social language is basic in culture building.


A couple of years ago, during an awards ceremony at Copper Hills High School in South Jordan, Utah, twelve students were presented with Sterling Scholar Awards for academic achievement and leadership. There was nothing unusual about the ceremony, except that one of the parents present noted that half of those students being honored had passed through the same sixth-grade teacher's classroom. They had all been my students. I hadn't been aware of that until the parent came to me and asked what my secret was for consistently turning out such high-achieving students. I told her it was no secret. It was simply the 7 Habits.

I recently put together a collection of letters handwritten by children from my classes, and while they are all very dear to me, there is one that will always strike a particular chord. It begins: "I came to Ms. Doxey's class one of the worst panikers [sic] ever. I have been proactive in learning to control my panic attacks."

This letter is from Heidi, who entered my fourth-grade class as a shy, withdrawn child whose intelligence nonetheless shone through her reticence. Still, the child was all but crippled by her fear of failure. Anytime she failed to respond correctly in class, she became distraught, crying and tormenting herself to the point that she often could not function for the rest of the school day. I have seen the situation many times in my more than thirty years in the classroom. I recognized Heidi's nervousness and emotional volatility as perfectionism. This little girl lived in great fear of failing.

Her paradigm was "I can't solve problems without help because I might make a mistake." She didn't trust herself, which is common with the gifted child. Perfectionism and fear of failure can seriously handicap bright children if they are not taught early that failure is part of the learning process. To help Heidi overcome her fears, I both modeled and taught proactivity. To help solve the problem of perfectionism, I have a poster on the wall showing the 7 Habits. This I present as "The Rules of the Room" and from the first day of class each year, I model the Habits and define what I am doing so that the students begin to understand. I go through the vocabulary and tell the students that these are the rules that govern our class. I also send a paper home to each of their parents explaining the Habits. The second week of school I ask the children to bring back examples from home for each Habit. In class, I consistently incorporate the Habits into my teaching by modeling them and by using examples in the curriculum. For example, when I identify a problem and begin to work on a solution, I tell them, "I am being proactive now" or "I am beginning this with the end in mind." I also have the children verbalize when they are being proactive or ask them questions such as, "If you were going to be proactive, how would you respond?" Students find proactive behaviors in stories, in history lessons — even in math! Every subject can model the Habits.

Heidi had to overcome her learned behavior, which was primarily reactive, so for the first few weeks of school she was often frustrated by these exercises based on the 7 Habits. When she discovered she'd left a book at home the second week of school, she panicked. When she burst into tears, I said to her, "Let's look at the problem together." I listened to her talk about it and then I asked, "Now, what Habit am I practicing?"

She said, "You are seeking to understand what the problem is."

Then I asked, "What Habits are going to help you solve this problem?" She couldn't identify how to proceed, so we talked about being proactive, and what the possibilities were for her in this instance.

In the following weeks, I walked Heidi and the other students in the class through similar scenarios dozens of times with the goal of making them second nature. This was very difficult at first because panic was so ingrained as her response, but little by little she began to transform from a problem spotter to a problem solver.

To help the students understand the 7 Habits more clearly, I set up an Emotional Bank Account system. I give out little printed points certificates to reward appropriate behaviors such as problem solving, prioritizing, or proactive behavior. I also award them when the children make deposits into each other's Emotional Bank Accounts by being kind or thoughtful. I use these points as a physical reinforcement for using the Habits. Students can use the points for privileges or as makeup for a late assignment or a low score.

I encourage students to analyze their behavior in terms of the 7 Habits and I emphasize that students are expected to live the principles in my classroom. In social studies or math we find examples of the Habits being used. I integrate them into every lesson. The students quickly learn.

If a student says that his homework isn't done because his mother made him go to bed early, I call that "mommy dumping" and tell him it is an unacceptable solution. They pick up on that and become quick to identify the mommy dumpers and the proactive problem solvers.

To build self-awareness, I conduct role-playing sessions in which the children act out scenarios — playing the role of historical figures, novel characters, parents, and children — and identify behaviors that are not in alignment with the 7 Habits. It doesn't take them long to figure out that the problem wasn't that Mom made them go to bed, it was that they didn't put first things first and do the homework instead of playing.

I also have a problem board that students can sign. It entitles them to a private conference with me to resolve problems. If they left their homework at home, we work out a win-win solution but I require them to have evidence, such as a note from a parent saying that they did the work but forgot to put it in their book bag. If they come up with the evidence and a solution then there is no late penalty because they have been proactive. But if they don't have the assignment, and they don't have evidence, a zero is earned. They learn to be proactive, and also learn that there are negative consequences as well as positive ones for decisions.

Through this daily exposure to proactive behavior and the 7 Habits, Heidi slowly began to understand that she had a choice to rise above circumstances and to apply her intelligence in far more beneficial and satisfying ways.

One day six or seven weeks into the school year, she came to me with a solution instead of a problem. When she dared to take that risk, to come to me with her solution, I knew she had experienced a breakthrough. I witnessed many such moments since with her and hundreds of other children. I had the pleasure of working with Heidi again in sixth grade. She still uses the Habits!

Usually about halfway through a school year, the students will look at their own behavior and say, "I didn't put first things first when I played instead of doing my homework." They reach a level of awareness where they can identify the behavior that caused the problem; to me, that is an incredible step. I've even had parents tell me that students go home and scold their brothers and sisters for not synergizing enough or for not seeking to understand each other! They have internalized the Habits.

The letters my students have written offer the greatest testimony to the effectiveness of modeling and teaching the Habits. Here are a few more samples from those letters from my fourth-grade class:


I SOUGHT TO UNDERSTAND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD WHEN WE WERE DOING COMPREHENSION CARDS AND MY PARTNER WAS BEING SLOW. I ASKED HER WHY SHE WAS BEING SLOW DOING THE CARDS. SHE SAID THAT SHE JUST READ SLOW. THEN I UNDERSTOOD.


I BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND WHEN BEFORE I PLAY I CLEAN AND DO HOMEWORK.


I HAVE BEEN PROACTIVE AT DOING MY HOMEWORK. I WAS ONE OF THE KIDS WHO NEVER DID IT. I HAVE GOTTEN REAL GOOD SCORES NOW.


THINK WIN-WIN. WHEN I PLAY I ALWAYS THINK I'LL PLAY A GOOD GAME, I DON'T CARE IF I LOSE.


SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD. I HAVE STARTED TO SEE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WANT TO DO, IT'S NOT JUST WHAT I WANT TO DO.


WHEN I PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST...I GO TO THE STORE AND I GET THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS FIRST AND ALWAYS GET CANDY LAST.


THERE WAS A TEACHER STANDING AT THE FRONT OF THE ROOM. I COULD NOT SEE THE WHITE BOARD. SO INSTEAD OF ASKING THE TEACHER TO MOVE IT, I DID. THAT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF PROACTIVITY. ONE TIME WE HAD A PIONEER TREK AND OUR HANDCART FELL OVER AND WE SYNERGIZED AND CLEANED IT UP.


MY SISTER WANTED SOMETHING OF MINE AND I WANTED SOMETHING OF HERS. SO I MADE A DEAL WITH HER AND WE BOTH WON!


THINK WIN-WIN. MY FRIEND AND I WERE PLAYING BASKETBALL AND WE KEPT PASSING TO EACH OTHER AND WE WON THE GAME!


I've had a great deal of career satisfaction since I began using the 7 Habits in the classroom. I'm not always successful with every child, but my goal each year is to teach myself out of a job, to teach the youngsters to become independent so that they don't need a teacher, so that they are ready for life. It turns kids like Heidi, who was paralyzed by her fear of failure, into problem solvers and into functioning people who will take risks because they understand that failure is not a dead end. It gives the children the power to govern themselves, and if we teach them to govern themselves and expect them to do it, they will do it.

Incorporating the Habits in the classroom has produced classes that are delightful to work with all year long. No longer am I a stressed-out teacher trying to control thirty children. They are controlling themselves and synergizing with each other and with me. Together we are soaring! My work has become much more enjoyable because we synergize.

Instead of being the sage on the stage, I'm the guide on the side, and that is energizing. I don't have to know all the answers: my job is to help the students discover the answers for themselves and that gives us both a great deal more satisfaction. They are becoming problem-solving citizens of the world.


In his brilliant book A Guide for the Perplexed, E. F. Schumacher identifies four levels of being and their unique characteristics: the first level, rock, which is mineral; the second level, plant, which is mineral plus life; the third level, animal, which is mineral plus life plus consciousness; the fourth level, human, which is mineral plus life plus consciousness plus self-awareness, which is the ability to think about your thinking. Self-awareness is the least cultivated of the four unique human gifts (self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will). Yet the more it is cultivated, the larger the space between stimulus and response becomes. People are no longer a product of their genes, their parents, or their present relationships and circumstances. They are a product of their choices in response to these things. The more people train themselves in the language of self-awareness, the more it is cultivated. Words are symbols of meaning; they are tools for ideas. People cannot think outside of their vocabulary. Just try it and you will see how your thinking is confined to your language.

When this marvelous teacher trained her students in the language of proactivity, Emotional Bank Account, and other positive behaviors, both their awareness and their behavioral repertoire increased. Also, when people move from being unconsciously effective to being consciously effective they can teach the principles to others by both precept and example. Such conscious effectiveness increasingly cultivates independence, rather than continued dependence upon a teacher. It also deepens understanding of why a principle works and why a particular practice that is not based upon a principle does not work. It's no wonder that so many of Sharlee Doxey-Stockdale's students were recognized for their outstanding performance!

From Courage to Change

It's Never Too Late to Change


Observe in this story the basic elements of the change process: self-awareness, taking responsibility, authentic expression, group support, and accountability.


I am a teacher of adults. During the introductions of one of the seminars I was leading, when everyone was talking about why they were there, one gentleman stood up and said, "My name is Harry. I am seventy-six years old, and I am here because my wife sent me." Everyone started laughing, but he was very serious. He continued, "My wife told me that this is my last chance. If I don't straighten up, I'm out on my rear. You see, I've been a rascal all my life. Do you think it's too late for me?"

I answered, "It's only too late if you don't start now."

Well, as the workshop progressed, the group took him on as a personal project. Harry is a person that you hated to love, but you loved him anyway. He was just so cute, but he had this little impish way about him. You could see how his wife might have come to the end of her rope with him. The group could see that his wife's Emotional Bank Account was empty. He had made very few deposits and numerous withdrawals over many years. In fact, her Emotional Bank Account was so overdrawn it was close to bankruptcy. Through modeling and mentoring and teaching, he soon began to make deposits. At first his wife didn't believe he was sincere, and that was very frustrating for him. He was just so disappointed that she didn't automatically think, "Well look how this guy has changed!" He wanted to give up, but the group would not let him. The group said, "Your wife's bank account is so overdrawn, you have got to be consistently doing things."

So Harry started doing little household chores that he had never done before. He took out the trash, cleaned up after himself, took his dishes to the sink, and began to offer to help around the house. And that was a first for him. His wife apparently was so angry that she was thinking, "This is great, but it won't last." So he continued doing little things for her like making sure when she took the car out that he had it washed and filled with gas. If he came home and she was busy, he would ask, "Can I run to the store for you? Can I do errands for you?" and he consistently did this. He started taking her out to lunch, and doing all kinds of things. You could just see that love was being rekindled.

Our group was together two hours a week over an eleven-week period, so we would get a progress report each week. As the weeks went by, she began to trust him and feel like maybe he really was making a change. At the last session Harry walked into the room with a big smile on his face. He came to the front of the room and gave me a great big hug. Well, I kind of held him off at arm's length and I said, "Now Harry, this isn't some of your rascally behavior is it?" and he said, "Oh no, that hug is from my wife, and she baked cookies for the whole class. She wanted me to tell everyone that I could stay — she said I could stay!"


True group support, a lot of genuine expression, and a sense of accountability not only gave this seventy-six-year-old man the power to transform his life, they are elements common to most successful change efforts. One-shot events may begin a change process, but they are usually insufficient. Both a process and systemic reinforcement based on self-evident, universal, timeless principles are needed.

Many years ago, at the end of one of my semester courses in college, I remember asking a speech professor, "If you were to do your career all over again, what would you do differently?" In addition to teaching, he was also a speaker of international renown. His response to my question was both interesting and instructive, and I am convinced that, among other things, it unconsciously had a marked influence on my life. He said, "I would build an organization." I asked him why. He said, "So there would be follow-through and lasting influence — a process, not just an event." That very principle is what led me to leave a university many years later to start my own organization.

From: Increasing Your Influence

Ninety Days


Notice the metamorphosis this person goes through from fear to exercising some courage. See if it doesn't give you courage to take hold of your situation and improve it in some way.


When I came on board as director of human resources, I heard horror stories about what my boss was like. I was actually in his office when he lost his temper with an employee. If words had edges, the employee would have been standing in a pool of his own blood. I vowed then and there never to get on my boss's bad side. Nothing, not even the greatest frustration or biggest legal action, was worth running into him on a bad day. I made good on that promise. I spoke nicely to him in the hallways. I had all my reports in on time to his secretary. I made sure I wasn't one of the last people out of the office for lunch so he wouldn't single me out. I didn't even want to play golf with him in case I beat him.

A short time later, I started seeing myself in all my cowardly glory. I was consumed with things on the job that I had no control over. I'd spend precious creative energy devising solutions to problems that hadn't even happened yet. Because I was scared, I wasn't giving the company my best effort. I wasn't an agent of change. In fact, the only change I felt comfortable instituting was me changing to another company. I even had an interview scheduled.

Ashamed of myself, I canceled that interview and committed to focusing on my Circle of Influence for just ninety days [Habit I: Be Proactive]. I began by deciding I wanted above all to create a sound relationship with my boss [Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind]. We didn't have to be best buddies, but we did have to interact like colleagues. So with that goal in mind, I returned to the office thinking, "Just ninety days. I'll give it my all for just ninety days."

One day my boss came into my office. After some discussion and after swallowing and practicing the words in my head a few times, I said: "By the way, what can I be doing to help you be more effective here [Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood]?"

He was perplexed. "What do you mean?"

I forged bravely on. "What can I do to alleviate some of the pressure that you have in your job? It's my job to make sure your job gets easier." I gave him a big, sort of nervous, please-don't-think-I'm-weird smile. I'll never forget the look on his face. That was really the beginning point of our relationship.

At first, I was asked to do just little things, things I couldn't really screw up, like "Type this memo up for me" or "Do you mind making this call for me?" After six weeks of doing that, he came to me and said, "I understand with your background you know workers comp pretty well. Do you mind working on this aspect of insurance? Our rates are high, see what you can do." It was the first time he had asked me to do anything that had a significant impact on the organization. I took a $250,000-a-year premium and got it reduced to $198,000. Plus I got them to waive the fee for terminating midstream on our contract by negotiating over some mishandled claims. This was an additional savings of $13,000.

Once when we had a disagreement I proved to him that it stayed behind closed doors. He didn't hear about it later on from the marketing department. I soon discovered that my ninety-day test was paying off. My relationship and influence did grow by focusing on what I could do to change the environment in which I worked. Today, the trust between my boss and me is very high, and I feel I am making a contribution here.


Increasing your influence usually takes a lot of patience and persistence. As confidence in your competence and character increases, inevitably a larger trust is given. Ninety days is usually a good period of time to test something. Sometimes it can even be done in thirty.

From: Raising Young Children

Because...

In the following story notice how one's awareness expands and deepens through proactive initiative and human interaction. Notice also the amazing wealth produced.

My oldest daughter, Tina, who was about nine at the time, and I were driving to see her grandmother. I remember thinking that with Tina, building an Emotional Bank Account was a key. So I thought, "What can I do in the thirty minutes we have together to make deposits in her bank account?" You know, this took a bit of courage. By the age of nine, a child pretty much has a good idea of the kind of behavior to expect from each parent. I'm not much of a chatterer when we travel. I might comment on the scenery every now and again, but mostly I drive in silence. So I was a bit nervous suggesting the game I came up with.

As we backed out of the driveway, I said, "Honey, why don't we play a game. What we want to do is say 'I feel good about you because...' or 'I liked what you did because...' The 'because' is important because then we know why the other person likes us. Okay? I'll start."

So I started off. I said something about her. Then she paused and said something about me. After about three or four things, I really had to start thinking. This was quite shocking to me. I love my child so much, but I was having difficulty thinking of specific actions that I loved about her. I was really searching for things to say. Tina found it easier. After about five or six, she started to break through the normal responses. I could tell she was looking at my life, and seeing me and what I did. She was grateful for the work I did, the walks to the park, the basketball in the driveway, the way I woke her up in the mornings. She could see all of me.

I was still struggling. Then, as I looked at this little girl's life, really looked at her and what she did every day in our family, I started to see. I saw her hugs, her little words, her thank-yous. I saw how well she was doing at school and how polite she was. I told her I loved it when she came home from school and gave me a big hug. When we started digging and looking, we couldn't stop. This was only a thirty-minute trip. We got to twenty-two, twenty-three items and then I had to call it off. I couldn't think of anything else.

Frankly, I was stunned by the game. I felt good on one hand but discouraged on the other. Good that Tina could see so much (she wanted to carry on), discouraged that I couldn't find more. More importantly, the rest of the trip we spent chattering to each other. I think the game started a dialogue that I hadn't had with her before.

When we arrived, Tina jumped out of the car and raced into the house, and that's when my heart almost broke. "Grandma, Grandma," she shouted. "My daddy knows so many good things about me. I didn't know he knew so many good things about me."


The word "respect" comes from the Latin root specto, which means to see — to see another (Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood). The more we are self-absorbed, the less we see others as precious individuals with many layers of individuality, and with many facets to each layer. When we get out of ourselves, and truly listen to another, a marvelous journey of discovery begins.

Copyright © 1999 by Franklin Covey Co.

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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.

Read More Show Less

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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2000

    Too Hard Selling

    I read '7 Habits of Highly Effectively People' twice. It was great ! But I find 'Living the 7 Habits:Stories of Courage and Inspiration' is centred on '7 Habits' as a commercial product, not on humans or their emotions. There are touching parts. But there are much more hard selling on the '7 Habits' ... the contents focus more on the '7 Habits' but not on helping or sharing with the readers. Even the book's design shows you the book is for selling '7 Habits' and Franklin Covey's products.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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