Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review of a Best Seller from Stephen Covey

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Book:7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen Covey

I had first picked up this book a few years back , but probably wasn't ready for it back then and I was yet to develop the habit of reading. So I could never read beyond the second chapter. It's only when I started blogging about bestselling books that , my father recommended to try this book again and  I am glad that I listened to him . I started searching for a copy of the book and found a friend who was willing to lend me his  audio book.

Back when I had first started reading this book I was probably paying more attention to others opinion. Most of the time people say that books of this kind are motivational, it's nice to read them, it's nice to talk about them, it's nice to even think about them, but you can forget about implementing them.

Probably that's where this book comes in. It talks about habits that all of us can develop. These habits are built on principles and values. By aligning ourselves with these principles and values we can bring more efficiency in our work life and joy in our personal lives.
This book  teaches us how to develop the life skills and traits that all of us need to develop.

You see, habits, skills and traits are like muscles. We develop the muscles we use most often. Similarly the habits, skills or traits we have today are the results of the way we have done things in the past, repeatedly. Just like we can tone our bodies and build new muscles where we need them,we can build new habits or skills , which add value to our lives. And we all know, habits build character. This what this book is all about. It's not about some quick fixes, like smiling, nodding your head, or chanting some mantra in your head. It's about building a character which can bring sustainable success to us. Agreed this requires a lot of work, and we don't know how long is it going to take.That's where Covey likes to use the analogy of the Chinese bamboo,which stays like a small shoot above the ground for 5 years, while building it's roots underground and then grows 80feet in one night. Habits are like our roots, they help us stay anchored and face challenges that life throws at us. The result ,of this perseverance, is the success that comes eventually.

We can start with just one habit, say having a personal vision and mission, or empathic listening or thinking win-win. Once we start with any of the habits, we will find that the other habits come naturally and it becomes easier to adopt them one by one.

One of the benefits that I found is ,that the habit of empathic listening makes you treat people like people and not things ,or means to an end.Covey uses the word effectiveness as a synonym for success. Most of us want to be more efficient rather that effective. But we cannot be efficient with people, we need to be effective. In fact, as Covey puts it, with people, slow is fast and fast is slow. I think this is a very important principle to grasp, in this age of sms, emails , twitter , where we are spending less and less time face to face and giving less attention to peple who deserve it and becoming less effective with people. By empathic listening we try to understand the other person before we expect them to understand us (another habit).By truly understanding another person we can build synergies and have win-win solutions(another habit).

As we read the book you will also find that most of the habits that Covey talks about, are common sensical, and we are aware of them at some level. But it becomes easier for us to identify them and follow them when someone like Covey, puts them in front of us. Once we make it our life long mission to build and sustain these habits the results start showing up everywhere automatically. As a result, we can be more effective in our work, spend more time with our family and contribute more to the society.

So please go ahead and pick up this book and start reading it today. I would be glad to know what habits your have decided to adopt and the changes that they are bringing to your lives.

Thanks for visiting.

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