The ‘7 Habits’ are 30 years old and still perfect for these difficult times: Sean Covey

The deeper our societal challenges, the more relevant the 7 habits become

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We are living in unprecedented times. Our economy is getting hammered, unemployment is soaring, and our nation has never been more divided.

Yet, these times of great instability call for stable principles and practices. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” written by my father Stephen R. Covey over 30 years ago, resonates today more than ever.

The late Stephen R. Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

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Why? Because the habits are based upon principles that never change. The deeper our societal challenges, the more relevant the habits become.

Like gravity, principles are natural laws that are universal, timeless, and unchanging, such as service, honesty, hard work, gratitude, integrity, loyalty, and responsibility. And if we stand by these principles during difficult times, they will provide the stability and direction we need for our lives.

Let’s explore how this works by delving into two of the seven habits:

Habit 1, Be Proactive, is based on the principles of responsibility and initiative. This habit teaches that we are not victims of our past, of others, or of a virus.

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We can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose what we will do about it. We can choose to let this pandemic discourage us and fill us with anxiety or we can choose to grow from the challenges it present and to find the silver linings.

Now is the time to reevaluate our lives, set goals, and write a personal mission statement.

In the year 1665, Isaac Newton was a student at Trinity College in Cambridge when the Great Plague of London struck the city.

He was sent home for a year to be quarantined. And it was while he was at home that he developed his early theories of calculus and optics. These discoveries transformed science and changed the world.

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Newton later referred to this time as his “year of wonders.”

I’m not suggesting that we need to invent something grand but I am proposing that the time and space allotted to us by this pandemic can lead to our own “year of wonders” -- if we take the initiative.

The 30th anniversary edition of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

Habit 7, Sharpen the Saw, is based on the principle of renewal. We should never be too busy driving to take time to refuel. As individuals, we have four dimensions: a body, heart, mind, and spirit; each part needs to be nurtured on a regular basis. At times like these, it is easy to get stressed out and to neglect ourselves.

One school superintendent recently shared with me that due to the pandemic she has never been busier and finds it tremendously challenging just to keep her head above water.

Times like these demand absolute resolve: we must put on our own oxygen masks first, before helping someone else with theirs.

Now is the time to reevaluate our lives, set goals, and write a personal mission statement.

Sean Covey, author, son of Stephen R. Covey

We must make time for exercise, quality sleep, good nutrition, reading inspiring literature, nurturing relationships, taking a walk in nature, serving someone in need, or doing whatever else we can do to enhance and refresh the greatest asset we’ll ever have—ourselves—so we can then be helpful to others.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” is a great example.

After working tirelessly for seven years to bring his first musical “In the Heights” to the Broadway stage, he finally made time for a vacation to Mexico.

He packed a little light reading for the beach: “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow—the exhaustive biography of a mostly forgotten founding father.

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2019 file photo, Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“The moment my brain got a moment’s rest, Hamilton walked into it,” Miranda said in an interview with Ariana Huffington. “It’s no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life—maybe the best one I’ll ever have in my life—came to me on vacation.”

From that seed of an idea, “Hamilton” went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and eleven Tony Awards!

You may think you don’t have time to exercise, talk with a friend, write in your journal, or take that vacation. In reality, you can’t afford not to.

Sean Covey is president of FranklinCovey Education, son of the late Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012), and bestselling author of “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” “The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make,” “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids,” “The Leader in Me,” and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” Having sold 40 million copies in 50+ languages since it was first released, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey has now launched its 30th Anniversary Edition (Simon & Schuster, May 19) featuring the book’s original wisdom of principle-based living, with Sean’s new insights following each chapter.    

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