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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!

Self Worth:

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:

- integrity;
- service;
- faith;

On the other side, the right side, you have the foundation stones of competence:

- talents & skills;
- accomplishments;
- 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.
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on May 17, 2007
"The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make" is a very informative book. It give great insight to teenagers who are facing hardships. The book is directed towards young individuals and is formatted with an interesting style. The book will help you to deal with problems in your life.

Sean Covey believes there are 6 important decisions that you will make in your life. They are decisions about school, parents, friends, dating and sex, addictions, and self-worth. Each section goes into great detail to explain each area.

Throughout the book, there are hilarious cartoons, graphics, famous quotes, and thoughts from other teens. Sean Covey did not just use his ideas and opinions. The book is filled with statistics, experimental studies, and professional reports which show that it is a quality book. The book never seemed offensive, and would not turn away teenagers who are facing problems that are talked about in the book.

I thought the specific examples of struggling teenagers was something great to use. Each section had multiple stories, positive and negative, about teenagers and how they have dealt with the 6 decisions in their lives. It really makes the decisions seem real and makes you think about how you have made those decisions in your life.

I thought it was very interesting to see that one of the teenage stories was about a student from my school in Ohio. My principal was also acknowledged in the thank-you section of the book. This book is widely published and having my school mentioned in the book made me feel connected to the book.

I would recommend this book to students in junior high. I think this would be very beneficial for students to read prior to high school. Although I did not read it until my Senior year in high school, it was still worthwhile and gave me good advice to use for the rest of my life.
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on April 11, 2007
I got this book for my 14 year old brother, and flipped through it before giving it to him. I was impressed with the style of writing, and the pictures/cartoons, which are fun and enthusiastic, but don't seem childish. I bought several other copies to give to other teens that I know. My brother said that he really enjoyed the book. I wish I would have had a copy of this book when I was a young teen...there's great information to help teens in any situation.
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on January 11, 2007
My mother bought her 4 teenaged grandchildren this book for the holidays. I think this is the best book I've ever read. The best gift my child has ever received. Most of the parents spent those first days reading it and asking "Where was this when we were teenagers"!! Now, I notice all of the children sitting around reading the book! It is Wonderful!!! My daughter loves it and can relate. I am so in love with this book that I am purchasing it as gifts for her friends.

Thank you. We love this wonderful book!

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on July 26, 2014
Perhaps the age group is off for some teens?

I read this book AFTER my daughter returned from A teen STEAM camp where they used it as a focus item in group. She is 12, and for her I felt it was a bit detailed, particularly the discussion of STDs and oral sex. Those were questions I wasn't quite ready to answer, and didn't feel for all teens, this was an appropriate read.

Three stars only so folks will consider all the content and understand there is very little this book misses ... be ready :)!
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on November 26, 2006
This is the best book for young people I have ever read. Sean has shown amazing insite and has a unique way of relating to our young people.

For the last few weeks I have gathered my family and spent time reading this book to them and everyone has enjoyed it.

Thank you Sean for writing something that is helping kids and parents throughout the world

Sam Bracken
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on May 21, 2007
Sean Covey writes another help book that focuses on teens. Being a teen myself, I can see he knows what he is talking about (I among others fell into the trap in the Relationship section he set, knowing we would turn to that chapter first). The book is well written and comes from someone who is really in tune with the feelings and thoughts of teens. A+.
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on May 30, 2012
I bought this book for a friend's daughter as an 8th grade graduation gift. I read it (from the library first). I can only say that everything the author addresses is almost exactly what I as a parent would want to tell my teen--but we parents know that teens don't always (OK hardly ever) want advice from us. The fact that the author interviewed so many teens who made both good and not-so-good choices and shared their consequences after the fact was brilliant. Teen-to-teen advice.In the chapter on maintaining a good relationship with your parents, I particularly liked one teen's take on parental insight. The teen used a math equation: Mom's age + Dad's age - my age = years of life lessons and experience they have more of than me. If you asked an 8th grader if they could help a 5th grader avoid a bad decision, like not doing their homework for a certain teacher, most likely they would say ,"Sure, I've already done 5th grade.I KNOW Mrs. So-and-so will fail you if you turn in your work late because it happened to me." The author helps them sometimes see that their parents have "already done" high school.
Also, the chapter on choosing friends and how they influence you was especially well done. I would recommend this highly for all kids going into 9th grade as mandatory summer reading!
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on January 22, 2014
My 9th grade twins needed this for a required reading. I am only giving it four stars because I didn't see them "glued" to the book and reading it cover to cover. However, it has such great advice for kids and is written in their language. They happened to be reading it when my husband and I announced that we were divorcing, I found one of the boys laying in his bed reading it that night with a few tears in his eyes and it helped us start a conversation. I think it has helped them deal with what life brings.
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on January 13, 2013
The book was well written but when I talked to my teen about it they said there wasn't anything new in there. There wasn't anything to make them think. It is all common knowledge they already have learned. This might have a better impact on teens that do not have parents in their life that tell them to not do drugs, not to smoke and get their homework done.
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