Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Sean Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens listed seven "good" habits that, while sometimes being difficult to master, assist teenagers in making good choices that they will not regret. Some of the habits are sayings and obvious truths written down in one convenient manuscript, whereas at least one comes straight out of the author's mind.

Possibly my favorite habit, perhaps because I was already a practitioner, was "Be Proactive." To sum the chapter up, Sean Covey said that our emotions and reactions are determined by us, not outside influences. For example, if two friends got into an argument, they could either get angry at each other and spend months recovering their relationship, or they could remain level-headed and reach a peaceful solution. Proactive people typically succeed where hot-headed, overly dramatic people do not. Difference even exists in the language used by proactive and reactive people. A reactive person may see a situation and list all of the negative circumstances, whereas a proactive person will search diligently for a solution. A reactive person may feel as though they must do a certain action, but a proactive person will choose to do the action in question. Being a cool, calm, and collected person (except when I am embarrassed, or when I am in a competition of sorts) for as long as I can remember, practicing this habit was merely acting as I always have.

Unfortunately, one habit proved (or rather is proving) outstandingly difficult to even begin to master. Habit four, "Think Win-Win" still challenges me everyday. Looking back on my past, I see exactly why, and actually Sean Covey mentions a similar story in his book. Since my early childhood I have hated losing. Perhaps because the losers, even second place, never received as much interest or as great a prize. Moreover, my hate of losing spawned an even greater love of winning, which infused me with a "Win-Lose" mentality. For years I have held to a, "Only one of us will win, whereas the other will lose," motto. Thinking that everyone can win seems a bit far-fetched and foreign to me. Even worse, I sometimes adopt a "Lose-Win" strategy when outnumbered in a discussion. For the record, that does not mean that I give into peer pressure! By that I mean whenever I am in a group working on something, and more members are for another idea than mine, I just choose not to defend my idea, or any similar scenario. Luckily I have never adopted the infamous revenge tactic, "Lose-Lose." Whenever I realize that I cannot win, I always help out the person who deserves to win most out of the people who stand a chance, and at anything really. Dragging people down with me really just does not sound that appealing.

Many habits I had a head start on because I practiced aspects of them in my everyday life. A couple are "Seek First to Understand Before Being Understood," and "Sharpen the Saw." Listening has always come easy to me, and with the ability, the responsibility of playing therapist for people. My problem comes with the "Being Understood" half. I have never a very open person, and only I speak openly to one or two people at maximum. At least the first half comes easy to me. Whenever I saw that there was a chapter on basically resting, I became exited! I thought, "YIPPEE! Finally, an excuse to laze around all day!" Then upon reading, I discovered that that merely covered about a quarter of the habit. Moreover, for renewing the body, exercise is recommended, not laying around all day. However, some parts, such as renewing the mind, heart and soul I would ace a test on, and luckily they are the other three dimensions of "Sharpening the Saw."

A teen wrote a comment for Sean Covey, and it said something like, "If The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens doesn't help you, you already have the perfect life." Honestly, I disagree. I readily admit that the book has assisted in some aspects of my life, but anyone who reads and does not put the habits into action is wasting their time. I reccommend this book to anyone who sees improvement to be made in their life and would love to improve their life, which I hope includes everyone.

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