Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Club: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

I made it to the end! I'm patting myself on the back. I'm really inspired by Covey's idea of independence. He says we are truly independent when we can make and keep commitments to ourselves. He goes on to say that we can't be truly interdependent until we're able to depend first on ourselves.

Deciding to read and then finishing all 318 pages--one chapter a week--has been a good exercise in making and keeping commitments to myself. I won't lie, however; it truly helps to make a public declaration on this here blog. Promising something to myself in front of thousands of people is a powerful motivator.

I enjoyed reading the last habit about the importance of Sharpening the Saw. He argues that we should spend at least an hour a day working on ourselves physically, socially/emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. About exercise, he said, "Most of us think we don't have enough time to exercise. What a distorted paradigm! We don't have time not to!" I think the same thing holds true for all the other areas of self-development.

He talked about how watching too much TV can infringe upon one's self-development time. It was good for me to reconnect with that idea because I've been wondering if Matt and I should put a TV in our living room when we move to our next house. Right now, we only have it in our bedroom, and it's not connected to any sort of cable. We simply use it to watch movies. We sometimes use the computer to watch TV shows on Hulu, but we honestly don't spend too much time watching it.

I think I'd like to keep the TV out of the living room--the center of our family life--and instead fill that space with books, music, crafts, and games. It's not that I want to completely deprive Henry of screen time (which would make him want to spend all his time at friends' houses!); it's that I want to show him so many other possibilities.

While reading this chapter, I also came up with a better plan for cultivating my physical self. The past couple days, I've been reluctant to take Henry and Hoss on our daily walk through the neighborhood because it has been excruciatingly hot. This chapter inspired me to come up with an inexpensive solution. I decided that we will drive to the arboretum every day. It's not too far away (sorry I'll be driving more, Environment!) and it's very shady. Also, the trees, smell of pine, and solitude are so good for my spiritual and mental development. I truly feel like a happier person when I make time to be in that kind of environment.

It reminds me of this quote from the chapter: "Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values." Daily walks in beautiful nature would give me the time and space to think about my principles and values. I also need to start rereading A Year of Living Consciously while I'm going to the bathroom (sorry if that's too much information!). It will be good for my spiritual development.

This chapter also inspired me to throw away the pint of ice-cream I had been dipping into all day. Usually, I'm pretty good about not buying that stuff. However, if I do buy it and bring it into the house, then I have very little willpower. Moderation flies out the window! Perhaps that's because I don't let myself buy it often enough? I don't know. I think it's much better for me to surround myself with healthy foods at home and to save my indulging for when we go out.

There was lots of random goodness in this chapter, like:
  • This quote from Goethe: "Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be." What a powerful quote, especially for educators!
  • I loved, loved, loved the anecdote about Covey's sabbatical in Hawaii with his family. I was so inspired by the mental movie of their daily trips to the ocean and the time they set aside to focus on deep communication as a family and then as a couple. I really want to make more time to deeply communicate with Matt on a daily basis.
  • This excerpt from George Bernard Shaw: "This is the true joy in life--that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one."

And then the closing idea that self-development is a continual process of Learning --> Committing --> Doing. Love it!

I really do think that The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a classic in the self-development genre. I'm really glad I read it from cover to cover!

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Allyn said...

It's been a few weeks since I finished the book, so I am going off of memory and the notes I took on the chapter. Two things really stood out for me:

1. The interconnectedness of out physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. Right now, I feel like I am doing fairly well in the mental and spiritual well being, but lacking in the physical (yikes!) and seriously lacking in the social/emotional. This probably comes from the fact that I am working in Washington DC this summer while my husband, friends, and dogs are in Knoxville. The nice thing about washington is that there are amply opportunities to walk in new neighborhoods and see lots of museums and gardens and while I have been doing some of that, I need to commit myself to doing more of it every day.

2. The daily private victory. I do think that part of an hour daily could be used for increasing our physical well being, so I would like to spend around 45 minutes walking more often and another 15 gathering my thoughts, brainstorming, or outlining how I am actually going to get everything done that I want to do.

As a graduate student, I have to admit that I am pretty blessed with a low key life, but the downside of that is that pretty much everything I do (especially in the summers when I am not taking classes but just pushing forward on my research agenda) is definitely Quandrant II. Must stay focused. Perhaps I need to break down my big goals (write a paper on how political ideology in the White House affects Yucca Mountain policy), into smaller goals (investigate public opinion data, set up an initial database, etc.)

Brenna said...

That Goethe quote is my mantra as an educator. I sign every email with it, so I see it all the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Lisa said...

I never had a tv or video games for the kids. Surprisingly, they didn't the time they were old enough for serious tv watching, the habit just wasn't there. They read instead, and we always had books and more books.

Julia said...

I went to a charter high school, and that Goethe quote was the school's motto :)

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