Max is running late. He hurries out the door of his apartment, holding a cup of coffee. Then he sees his bus. “It’s leaving!” he cries. Max starts to run, but he trips over a rock and falls. His coffee flies out of his hands and spills all over his white shirt.
In pain, he looks up. But the bus is gone. As Max gets up, he starts talking to himself. “I think the bus driver hates me. The rock tried to trip me. And my coffee wanted to make my shirt brown. Anyway, the next bus doesn’t come for an hour, so I guess I will be late for work, again.”
As he walks, the sky begins to fill with dark clouds, and it starts to rain. Max reaches in his bag to get an umbrella, but it’s not there. “Oh! I forgot my umbrella!” he sighs. “Not again!” He walks on, and the rain begins to fall hard. When he arrives at work, Max is all wet.
He walks past his co-workers, hoping that they will not see him. He finds some paper towels, and he dries himself. Then he sits at his desk, turns on his computer, and he looks at his list of things to do. He keeps looking and looking, but does nothing.
“Impossible!” he says. “I can’t do this. I don’t even know where to start.” So instead of working on his most important tasks, He checks his email, and he spends the rest of his morning doing things that have little value.
In reality, Max is like all of us, at least a little. We all experience trouble: office workers, business people, teachers, students, mothers, fathers, young people, and old. And trouble moves us to ask a simple question. How can we live a better, more successful life?
Fortunately, there is good news. Success is possible. With good thinking and hard work, all of us can become more successful. Many writers and teachers have studied “success.” And they show us why and how we can succeed.
One famous teacher of success is Dr. Steven Covey (1932-2012). Covey wrote many books, including “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” First published in 1989, the Seven Habits has been translated into over 40 languages, and it has sold over 25 million copies.
But the book is not just a best-seller. It is endorsed by many important leaders in business, sports, politics, and the arts. For example, marketing expert Seth Godin says that the Seven Habits is “a landmark achievement that has touched the lives of millions of people and has helped businesses, churches, and families worldwide.”
Swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of 22 Olympic medals says, “The lessons outlined in the [Seven Habits] are an important guide to success.” And Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winning economist, says this: “Dr. Covey taught us that the key to changing our lives is to change [our] mindset about ourselves.”
The Seven Habits is a special book. It is not about simple techniques for success. It is also not about ideas that are new or popular now. The Seven Habits is about timeless rules that create success. We call these rules, “principles.”
In Covey’s thinking, we can make habits of these principles. When we do this, we are not only “achieving success.” Instead, we are “building character.” That is, we don’t just reach for success, but we try to become the kind of person who creates success.
The Seven Habits are easy to understand, but we need to work in order to put them into practice. The following simple summary can help us begin. The first three habits are about taking control of our lives and growing in self-control. The second three habits are about working with others and learning to cooperate. And the last habit is about always growing.