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Sean Covey has come a long way...now he certainly stands taller than the old man with this new book!
on October 18, 2006
The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens
by Sean Covey
I have always been impressed by the published works of Stephen Covey, starting with his '7 Habits for Highly Effective People' which I read in the late eighties, followed by 'First Things First' & 'Principle-Centred Leadership' around the mid-nineties. I have yet to read his 'The 8th Habit'.
The most productive assimilative experiences for me from his success philosophies are essentially the first three habits (Be Proactive, Having the End in Mind, & First Things First) plus the last one (Sharpen the Saw).
Because of my work with teens, I came to appreciate also his son (Sean Covey)'s published works, mainly '7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens'.
In my strategy consultancy work, plus creativity classes with adult professionals & training in the schools with secondary students, I often recommend '7 Habits for Highly Effective People' & '7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens' respectively as mandatory reading. The feedback I get from them is always tremendously positive.
I have come to know about Sean Covey's new book quite by chance while surfing the net. I manage to grab a copy from my local bookstore.
The book is again targetted at a teen audience. In a nut shell, the principal theme of the book is how to make smart decisions for life's journey from teeny hopper to adulthood. The book starts off with a timely refresher on the 7 Habits as well as a fun & cool experiment, The Ten Year Time Travel Experiment. It covers the six critical areas:
- school: what are you going to do about your education?;
- friends: what type of friends will you choose & what kind of friend will you be?;
- parents: are you going to get along with your parents?;
- dating & sex: who will you date & what will you do about sex?;
- addictions: - what will you do about smoking, drinking, drugs & other addictive stuff?;
- self-worth: will you choose to like yourself?;
Personally, I enjoyed digesting the following three specific chapters, which I thought have been superbly crafted by the author. They correspond to the above critical areas.
Here, I find the '7 Secrets to Getting Good Grades' exposition, especially Secret #7: Developing Smart Study Habits, to be an excellent piece. I often like to recommend to students to read the author's '7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens' & Adam Robinson's 'What Smart Students Know' in conjunction with developing smart study habits.
The author goes beyond just schooling. I marvel at his graphic illustration of four important circles: each representing TALENT (what are you really good at?), PASSION (what do you love doing?), NEED (what does the world need that I can get paid to do?) & CONSCIENCE (what do I feel I should do?), overlapping each other as a process for finding your niche.
To me, finding your niche is doing what you love & loving what you do!
The 'Getting to Know You' Questionnaire, with one for teens & one for parents, is a marvellous idea for creating the opportunity for teens to talk to their parents & vice versa.
I also like the author's 'Getting to Synergy Action Plan', which is a five step process (with a built-in 'First Seek to Understand' & Think Win-Win') for teens who want to resolve disagreements in a mature manner with their parents & vice versa. This is really good!
The author makes a fine distinction between 'self esteem' & 'self worth'. He says, "self esteem is your opinion of yourself. It goes by other names, including self image, self confidence or self respect." He obviously prefers the term 'self worth' best because he thinks "it says something the other terms don't. What is your self worth? Get it?"
There is even an appropriate quote to go with the above argument:
"Although how you esteem yourself may rise & fall, what you're really worth never changes!"
The author even goes to the extent of using an inspiration from the L'Arc de Triomphe (The Arch of Triumph) in Paris to create his novel conception of 'The Self Worth Arch of Triump. Bravo! An inspirational masterpiece!
This is how it looks like: On one side, the left side, you have the foundation stones of character:
On the other side, the right side, you have the foundation stones of competence:
- talents & skills;
- physical health;
At the top you have the key stone, SMART DECISIONS or CHOICES, which holds the whole structure together. Wow! What a wonderful way to summarise the principal theme of the book & put all the pieces together at the end. The author argues, the smart decisions or choices you make will boost your self worth. Putting it in another way, self worth is the result of you being smart about the five earlier decisions (school, friends, parents, dating & sex, addictions).
I want to highlight this: This entertaining & inspirational book is jam-packed with incredible stories from teens all over the world, original cartoons, inspiring quotes, fun assessments, useful checklists & probing questions.
Best of all, each chapter is prefaced with The TOP TEN things you oughta know about...(the six critical areas) & ends with Baby Steps, i.e. small, easy steps that you can do immediately to help you apply what you have just read. Frankly, I really appreciate authors who take the trouble to incorporate reader-friendly textual & graphic aids in their books, thus making life easy for readers to follow their train of thoughts & then put all the ideas to work systematically. In this case, kudos to the author!
As an avid reader, I want also to highlight what the author writes at the end of the book:
"Keep reading books. It's brain food, you know. And never forget the words of P J O'Rourke: Always read stuff that will make you look good even if you die in the middle of it."
Let me conclude this book with a great quote from the book: "You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, & then do them as well that people can't take their eyes off you. (Maya Angelou)"
This book is definitely an indispensable guide for teens, as well as as for parents or any adult who influences teens.