“Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours.” My high school principal (with a P-A-L, cause he’s your pal) used to say this at the end of the morning announcements everyday. Finally, after so many years, I realized that this man speaks the language of truth. This awareness came to fruition during my first semester of grad school when I was assigned to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. This book changed my life. Here’s a brief synopsis of the habits:
HABIT 1: BE PROACTIVE. Your life is designed by you, so take responsibility for it. We may not have control over the actions and behaviors of others but we do have full control over our responses. Remove yourself from your circle of concern (things you cannot control. such as other people, terrorism, national debt, etc.) and work with the problems inside your circle of influence (things you can change and improve, such as your health, attitude, etc).
HABIT 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. Habit 2 suggests that all things are created twice, first with a mental creation and followed by a physical creation. It’s like creating a blueprint for your life and then building your character off of it. This is called your Personal Mission Statement. Begin each day or task with a vision of the end in mind and ensure you make the right decisions to achieve that result.
HABIT 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST. This is where the first two habits come together. This is about life management, priorities and realizing that it’s okay to say no.
HABIT 4: THINK WIN-WIN. In the game of life, winning doesn’t mean that someone else loses. This habit is about cooperation, not competition. The truth is, there’s plenty of pie to go around. Achieving the win-win attitude requires integrity, maturity and an abundance mentality.
HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. When you listen with the intent to reply, you are silently preparing how you’ll make your point and you will most likely misinterpret the conversation as you are filtering what is being said through your own life experiences.
HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE. This suggests that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Think of 9/11 and the genuine teamwork, cooperation and support that pushed us through what most would call the greatest tragedy in our nation’s history. That’s synergy.
HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW. Always continue to improve and refresh yourself. Whether it means taking a class, reading a book, going to a spa, becoming more physically active or whatever it takes to reenergize yourself and gain fresh perspectives. You are your greatest asset, don’t depreciate yourself.
I highly recommend this book and actually am surprised and bummed that I was not aware of its existence until about a year ago. That’s how great it is. Basically, what I learned from this fantastic read is that happiness, sadness and so many other emotions are up for grabs. It’s up to you to decide which cup of tea you’ll be sippin’ on by being proactive, “response-able” and gaining awareness.