Share a book – Reading Summary
There are 2 parts – please do both
Name__AngelaLarner__ Date Read__10/08_
Title of Book_The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People______
What caught your interest to start the book?
In my master’s classes we were “forced” to read this book. After having read it I decided I was “fortunate” to have read this book.
What parts were helpful or useful to you?
Stephen Covey is known for his ability to motivate and challenge people to be successful.
What parts were helpful or useful for your classroom?
The 7 habits can be used sequentially or individually to create positive influences for yourself and your students.
Why are you recommending this book to others?
Definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in improving themselves and making themselves more effective as a person or teacher.
Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, presents his professional insight of seven habits demonstrated by effective people. As he describes the seven habits, he stresses that each habit is a building block for the next. Convey also identifies three growth stages that people go through to becoming an effective person. Covey also explains how all of the seven habits collectively allow for a successful transition through the growth stages to becoming an effective person.
Covey begins his approach by examining personality and character ethics. Covey (1989) states that “Character Ethic taught that there are basic principals of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.”(p. 18) Covey (1989) referred to Personality Ethic as success in becoming “more of a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction.” (p. 19) He describes a situation with he and his wife and the overly positive encouragement of their son. They were so wrapped up in the self gratification of having a great son that they did not notice the uniqueness and the needs of their son. The son was being denied individuality. However, once Covey and his wife realized their mistake, they were able to develop a new attitude and began to be able to enjoy him and value their son for his uniqueness instead of comparing and judging him to others. This is apparent in the school system with administrators wanting to run the best schools and wanting the praise of having a great school, meanwhile they do not give back to their faculty and students the praise that celebrates their own individual uniqueness and greatness.
Covey’s seven habits of effective people are: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win/win, seek first to understand then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw. As a person practices these habits they progress through the three stages of personal growth which Covey defines as dependence, independence, and interdependence. Dependence is the stage when we rely on others to take care of us, independence is when we take care of ourselves, and interdependence is the point in time we work and cooperate with others to achieve similar goals. Covey believes that if we change our behaviors we are more apt to achieve interdependence.
The first three habits Covey discusses involve making changes within yourself to attain independence. Covey first looks at the social mirror. He believes that there are three determining factors that explain the nature of man. Genetic determinism is the theory that “your grandparents did it to you.”(Covey, 1989, p. 68) Covey believes that through generations you have inherited traits for your behaviors. Psychic determinism means, “your parents did it to you.”(Covey, 1989, p. 68) Covey feels that the way you are raised as a child and the incorporation of your various childhood experiences influence your basic character. Environmental determinism means, “someone or something in your environment is responsible for your situation.”(Covey, 1989, p. 68) Covey feels we are like the company we keep. Whether it is work or family, we are greatly influenced by the circumstances we place ourselves in. Administrators in schools need agents of change. If they wish to see change in others then they themselves must model change. True change can only come if it is first initiated and then monitored by administrators for success.
The first habit is to be proactive. For a person to be proactive they must take responsibility for his or her own life. A proactive person must manage courage, perseverance and responsibility as they continue to institute change within their power of influence. Covey’s second habit, begin with the end in mind, builds upon his proactive habit and embarks on instituting change. Covey feels that people have to understand the reasons for the change and be capable of visualizing the ultimate goal. Covey details the importance of developing a personal mission statement. Covey believes that every person, business, and organization should have a mission statement that incorporates the values and missions of everyone associated. A personal mission statement is necessary to effectively portray personal goals and philosophies. Administrators should develop a personal mission statement. By doing so, they can more clearly understand themselves and how they can effectively interact with others.
Most schools maintain a mission statement that is reflective of the goals and missions of the school. I believe schools that incorporate the thoughts and opinions of not only faculty and staff, but also students, parents; community and business leaders into their mission statement have a more dynamic mission statement. For example, the hotel described in Covey’s book, all associates felt a connection and a responsibility to uphold the mission’s goals and principles because they were involved in creating the mission statement. Our school holds two meetings involving faculty, staff, students, parents; community and business leaders. The first meeting places individuals into diverse small groups and asks them to identify and discuss the various missions of the school. The second meeting captures the details of the discussions and designs a carefully thought out mission statement for the school. I feel that this is a very effective method of generating a mission statement because the interests of all involved parties are incorporated.
Covey’s third habit is to put first things first. Covey describes this as spending time doing what fits into your personal mission statement. While practicing habit three you are accomplishing tasks that will contribute to your personal goal. Covey declares that in order to put first things first, you must maintain a balance between production and production capacity. He broadens the expectations to include identifying the roles in your life and being able to make time for each one. For example, an administrator might be a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, administrator, and colleague so she must maintain a balance of each of these roles and make time for each one of them.
In part four of Covey’s book, he describes habit seven, sharpen the saw. Covey communicates the importance of keeping yourself sharp. You are the saw and you must be sharp in order to be effective. He establishes that in order to stay sharp and maintain effectiveness you must practice rejuvenation techniques to include physical activity and formal education. For an educational administrator to be effective, he or she must be sharp all of the time. An administrator who wears his/her feelings on his/her sleeve or is one personality one day and a different personality another needs to regroup and refocus. I feel that administrators in schools must always be physically and mentally fresh because like a predator, students and others, know when the prey is weakest and that is when they make their move.
Covey writes this book to provide people with the insight to be effective. Covey relays that you must successfully attain one habit before moving on to the next. Since all seven of the habits build upon one another, Covey maintains that you first must find out who you are and what you want to achieve before you can reach out to others and be highly effective. This is a philosophy that should be embraced by educational leaders.
Covey, S.R. (1989).The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York. Free Press.