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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey is an influencing guide to how today’s teenagers should act in their day-to-day lives. This book shows teens how to first win their own private battle, next to confront the public, and finally how to renew themselves. Personally, this book has influenced plenty of my decisions and changed the way I act towards myself and others. Covey starts off by describing a habit in the preface. These seven habits are truly a game-changer in the way that they affect the reader.

The beginning of the book regards to how to take a step forward towards being your best self. He writes about how habits can be your greatest strength of largest weakness. In the introduction, Covey writes about the adversities that humanity faces and how it should react. In part one, he writes about how to set up your habits and start them. The next section of the book is about paradigms and principles. A paradigm is a general perspective or view of something that affects everything else you see. Covey uses a comparison to glasses to describe this. On page thirteen, he says, “Paradigms are like glasses. When you have incomplete paradigms about yourself or life in general, it's like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription. That lens affects how you see everything else. As a result, what you see is what you get. If you believe you're dumb, that very belief will make you dumb. Or, if you believe your little sister is dumb, you look for evidence to support your belief, find it, and she’ll remain dumb in your eyes.” There are three paradigms: self, others, and life. Paradigms of self are how you think of yourself, paradigms of others are how you judge others, and paradigms of life apply to what you center your life around. There can be numerous centers, but if you are principle-centered, you can excel and succeed in life because they have an influence on several of your life choices.

The next section of the book talks about how to win the battle against yourself, The Private Victory. The PBA stands for personal bank account and it is how you act towards yourself. You can add deposits by keeping a promise to yourself, being honest, helping someone, being kind, and various other ways. But you can also ruin the relationship with yourself by taking withdrawals, which is the opposite of deposits. This is like a game, wherein the end you want to have a rich relationship with yourself. This has definitely encouraged me to do the best that I can.

The first of the seven habits is to be proactive. The Greek stem pro- means forward, or simply just for. Being proactive means to be responsible and take action. And as page forty-nine said, “make choices based on values.” Choices made by one will drive the direction to progress or failure. One comparison made in this chapter was comparing proactive people to reactive people. Covey uses a soda bottle to depict reactive people and a jug of water as proactive people. This representation shows that reactive people are full of carbonation and explosiveness while proactive people are calm with, as the author states, “no fizzing, no bubbling, no pressure.” Proactiveness means self-control and maturity in your actions. I once met a kid in third grade who always wanted to be alone. Some people even mustered the courage to ask him to sit next to them. He refused their proposal with great attitude and anger. He was a marvelous example of a reactive kid. I also like that the book uses an abundance of emphasis on the fact that you can control how you react. You can choose to become angry about losing a card game or you can smile and say, “That was fun, how ‘bout another round?” When someone calls you a name, you just shrug and say, “Nice to meet you, too.” This habit can tremendously affect the way you act and can change the way you live. Being proactive can make life less miserable and more enjoyable.

The next habit is Begin with the End in Mind. There is a nice dialogue between Alice and the Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll that I liked at the beginning of this section. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat where to go because she is lost. The Cat then tells her that it depends on where she wants to go. Alice says that she didn’t care, but then the Cat interrupts her and says that it wouldn’t matter which way she walked. The dialogue has significant meaning behind its words. It is impossible to reach a destination without knowing it’s location. Imagine your future and plan how you will get there. I imagine myself living in San Francisco as a cardiovascular surgeon. The book also states that if we don't control our own future, someone else will. Next, Covey writes about mission statements. Mission statements are a personal guideline on how to live your life and what your purpose is. Covey says, “[A personal mission statement] is like the blueprint to your life. He discloses a couple of tips on how to start writing a mission statement. My mission statement is simply a quote from the legendary Vince Lombardi. He said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” It means no matter how many adversities slap you in the face, you will never give up on whatever you are doing.

“How am I ever going to finish that persuasive essay that’s due tomorrow?”

“Well, you had a week to write it.”

“Then how was I supposed to check my Instagram?”

Habit three, called Put First Things First, is about time management and prioritizing. Covey uses a chart on page 107 to show how most people complete their work. There are four quadrants each labeled The Procrastinator, The Prioritizer, The Yes-Man, and The Slacker. They are categorized by the type of work they have to do, important and not important; and the urgency of their work. In this chart, I am probably somewhere in between the Procrastinator and the Prioritizer. I am now working towards becoming more and more of a Prioritizer and to do that, I will need to start planning ahead.