How to think win-win. Covey’s 7 effective habits, people

7 teen habits 2004

First published 28 July at 2200 hours with the title
“7 must-have-its. Sean Covey’s book for teenagers”

A good book is for sharing. At home, we have a good-size collection of about 1,000 books. I have read at least 500 of them, not to mention some other 500 I don’t see around anymore. At 69, either you have lost your books, or your balls.

I do book reviews every now and then when I’m able, or when I’m eager, whichever comes first. It sharpens the mind, not to mention it relaxes it. You’re never too old to read and appreciate what now you know and what yet you don’t. As a writer, I find reading productive if not also enjoyable. I have always been a wide reader. Often, I buy second-hand books to read, to add to what I already know, to gain new insights.

Not only our books. If your book happens to visit our house and I like it, I will review it too. When I review, I don’t consider the state of the book, or the year of publication, or the author. If I see that it can contribute to knowledge, revises current understanding, or challenges what we think we are sure of, I’ll review it.

Habits are for cultivating. A good habit is a must-have-it, but it’s hard to cultivate; a bad habit is easier. Consider 7 good habits and you’ll probably give up trying if you’re a teenager.

Not Sean Covey. His father Stephen Covey published one of the bestsellers’ bestsellers of all time, the self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989 that has since sold 15 million copies (Wikipedia). Based on Stephen’s book and Sean’s own experiences, the son’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, came out in 1998 and has since sold 3 million copies (barnesandnoble.com). I like the father; I like the son.

I read the father’s book a few years ago, at least 2 times; I read the son’s book recently, also at least 2 times. There’s exactly no difference in the 7 habits earlier proposed and propounded by the father and presented by the son (page 5):

1 - Be proactive. Take responsibility for your life.
2 - Begin with the end in mind. Define your mission and goals in life.
3 - Put first things first. Prioritize, and do the most important things first.
4 - Think win-win. Have an everyone-can-win attitude.
5 - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen to people sincerely.
6 - Synergize. Work together to achieve more.
7 - Sharpen the saw. Renew yourself regularly.

The difference lies in the presentation, Sean’s book being peppered and plastered with cartoons, anecdotes, quotes, quips and fun. Here are 3 examples of how deep and delightful Sean’s book is:

(1) Isn’t all-you-can-eat a win-win situation?
(2) Sean reproduces on page 17 the cartoon from FRANK & ERNEST by Bob Thayes that shows a newly cracked egg and the chick exclaiming, “Oh wow! Paradigm shift!”
(3) Baby Steps (page 242): Body - Eat breakfast. Mind - Subscribe to a magazine that has some educational value, such as Popular Mechanics or National Geographic. Heart - Go on a one-on-one outing with a family member like your mom or your brother. Soul - Take time each day to meditate, reflect upon your life, or pray. Do what works for you.

Title revised and this text added the next morning, 29 July starting at 0706 hours

On second thought, 7 is too many habits for me! Whether I’m speaking of the father’s or the son’s list (they’re the same actually), I like to simplify. So, if I were to choose which habit I like best to cultivate, and it’s also I like to cultivate 1st, it’s

Think Win-Win.

This must be the most difficult habit to cultivate, and so if I start here, the rest will be easy. In fact, I think the rest of the good habits will follow naturally once I have the win-win habit automatic in my heart, mind and spirit.

I have just realized that the win-win habit is a brilliant, very practical mode of applying the 2nd cardinal commandment of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” “Think win-win” is the first step towards the journey of a thousand miles called “love.” And of course, it’s the most violated commandment of all, a sin against your fellowman. How can I think win-win when I hate the fellow?

Think win-win – you can apply it anywhere for anything at all as long as there are 2 people involved in a would-be transaction. Remember that hate is loss-loss situation – you lose a friend, and you lose your peace.

Think win-win is certainly Christian. Ask God. But don’t ask like this: “Lord, give me an idea of a win-win in this one. Just don’t ask me to forgive him.” It won’t work. Not forgiving is a loss, on both sides of the equation.

Now I know why God doesn’t answer some prayers – those who are praying are not thinking win-win. Like, if you pray for a new car and not work for it, not save for it, only beg for it, God knows you’re thinking win-lose – your win is God’s loss, because you’re withdrawing from the bank when you don’t have a bank account, except on account of God. “God, please give me patience, and I want it now!” You’re thinking win-lose. Miracles don’t happen that way. God doesn’t play games. Thinking win-win is not a game; it’s a habit, and in the end it’s all about love.

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