Discussion: Covey’s 7 Habits and personal growth

Hi Friends.

Recently I’ve had reason to revisit the book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’ It occurs to me that the observations and thoughts presented by Stephen Covey in this book are something that all of us who seek to have better relationships [with our family members, schoolmates, colleagues in the workforce, management. . .well with anyone we spend time with] could benefit from some discussion about Coveys points.

In general structure, there are some habits that are about your personal internal growth. . .and there are some that are about interacting with others.  The first habit is about personal internal growth.  You must reach a level of personal maturity before you can have successful interactions with others.

The first habit Covey describes is “Begin with the end in mind.”  If we interpret this on a personal level, the importance of this habit is know yourself.  Know what is important to you.  Know how you want to be perceived by others.  Create a vision of this.  Then you can work to unfold the vision.  When you are gone from this earth, how do you want to be remembered?  What is the one single thing which is most important to you, for which you’d like to be remembered?

By narrowing down to the most important characteristic which you’d like to express, you can create a mission statement much as organizations do.  A mission statement is direct and serves as a compass for decision-making.  If you know yourself, and you create a mission statement that is consistent with your highest priority, and you live your life making decisions according to that mission statement. . .the likely outcome is that you will be remembered for the thing which you most highly valued.

My Mother always told me she hated nothing more than a liar.  I grew up with that message playing in my head.  Still, I told my share of lies growing up.  If I said or did something for which I was ashamed or even embarrassed, I felt compelled to lie about it, rather than face the shame or embarrassment.

But there came a point when I evaluated the pros and cons of lying.  I realized that if I made a commitment to never lie, I would then not do things for which I might feel embarrassed or ashamed.  Think about that.  So I did make that commitment and took control of my decision making in a way that required me to think about the consequences before I said or did that which would shame me.

Creating a mission statement works in much the same way.  It gives one a consistent direction for their decisions.

I was fortunate to have taken a class based on the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  In that class we did an exercise to create a personal mission statement.  That required a great deal of soul searching.  It is not easy to recognize the single thing which you value most.  I finally came to this.  When I pass from this earth, I want people to say about me:  “She was always there for me.”

Knowing that was my highest priority changed everything.  It changed my perspective on work and on what I felt I had to do to help others in that environment.  It changed my perspective on career. . .which never totally went away but became less and less significant over time.  It changed my perspective on responding to others in need in some cases.  It expanded my commitment to my children. . .to others.

We humans are limited.  We cannot do everything for everybody. . .nor should we.  We should want everyone to be empowered to take care of their own needs.  But all of us experience times when we reach a limit.  If in those times, I can offer anything helpful, I hope I do so.  At times, the only thing I have to offer is prayer and perhaps that is the greatest gift I can give to those in need.

I find it interesting that this topic has returned to my life.  I have been invited back to Rogers Park Presbyterian Church to meet with young people in their summer program.  The theme of their program is ‘Peacemaking.’  Pastor Paton believes the book “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” can be the basis for giving these young folks the message that you must know yourself first, know your relationship with God, know the gifts you have been given, in order to be a peacemaker.

So now I am reflecting on how knowing yourself, enables you as a peacemaker.  It seems to me the very process of coming to know yourself is required to understand others.  Not necessarily to agree with them, but to understand where they are coming from. . .what they value most highly. . .and how they came to that perspective.  And this is the beginning of meeting people where they are and connecting with them in a real way. It is the start.

I hope that many of you will give this topic some thought and share your ideas in comments.   Perhaps the next blog will expand on “Begin with the end in Mind” and I will be able to share your thoughts and observations.  Dialogue is a 2 way street.

“The Star. . .” Newsletter 6, June 18, 2013

Hi all!  Two cool things happened this week!  Wait!  Make that three cool things.

#1.  First, I went out to Amazon and looked up “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”   I haven’t done that since it was published.  Was I surprised and delighted to see that there were three reviews all from strangers. . .and all very positive.  In fact, all were 5 stars!  Here’s a link to that page if you’d like to read what strangers have to say!  Scroll down to “Customer Reviews.”

If you have purchased or read the book, you can help advance the cause by going out to any of the sites in the bulleted sites below and provide an assessment there.  Please join me in starting the snowball. . .so we can make the missions I hope to help get started in central Illinois. . .a reality.

Now, if any of you are qualified as editors, note that there are options for editor reviews as well!

#2.  While I was working on getting introductory fliers printed at home to mail out, my cell phone rang.  It was Pastor Debbie Paton of Rogers Park Presbyterian Church.  You can read about my visit to this church in newsletter #4.

Pastor Debbie has invited me to come back to Rogers Park Presbyterian Church to present to the children who will be attending the summer program!  The theme for their session is “Peacemaking.”  Pastor Debbie believes we can weave the story of the Star into the message that you have to know yourself first . . .and know that God loves you and provides you with gifts.  I will work out a 40 minute session for 2 different age groups.

You know I love to gather ideas from my friends so. . .if you think of ways of tying this story and the message of love it brings to the art of peacemaking please feel free to reply with your thoughts.  We can all help children mature into responsible loving adults!

I will be making this presentation on July 18th!

Cool yes?

#3.  The third thing was a great surprise.  Shortly after I delivered this newsletter to the site, I received an email from a woman in a neighboring town. . .who also has had the idea to create a facility in central Illinois where developmentally disabled adults can live and work.  She in fact, has returned to school to prepare for this work.  She is currently working on a research project that will result in a marketing plan.

We will be meeting soon to discuss what each of us has done. . . what we believe needs to be done. . .and how we can work together  on our common goal.  This is exciting!

A final topic?  In keeping with my desire to keep you all up to date. . .

Fliers will be mailed out to Senior Pastors of churches in B-N and surrounding areas this week, and hopefully to Champaign and surrounding areas next week.  This first flier is a bit of a teaser.  I plan to follow up by sending a copy of the book for the church library along with an invitation to participate in the Star Gift Project.  I welcome your prayers for success.  Click the image below to open a copy of the flier, then click on the docx document at the bottom of the screen.

This retirement thing is fun.  Keep JOY in your hearts!

“The Star. . .” Newsletter 5, June 2013 – Retirement!

I am retired!  My last day at work was. . .May 31, 2013!  A couple of days prior to the event, I chopped my locks, punked them up a bit, and started adding bright colors like pink, blue and green to demonstrate ‘freedom’!  Mind you, I loved my job but a certain sense of freedom comes with knowing that if I don’t feel like getting up at 5:30. . .I don’t have to.  No, this was not a mid-life crisis [I guess we’d have to call that a past mid-life crisis anyway]. . .it was all done in the spirit of having fun.  I have temporary colors to go with anything now.  If I want to I can put some playful colors in.  If not, I don’t have to.  But that was last week.

I am now 6 days into retirement, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

First, I have meaningful contributions to make even in retirement.  I started planning for retirement over a year ago while I was home on medical leave recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  I had time to think about what I wanted to do with my time in retirement.

The answer?  Give back for all I have received.

But how?

The answer. . .two answers really:  Work to create two non-profit organizations in my community.

One for developmentally delayed adults and another. . .for would be students of higher education who are distressed by tuition. . .but who want to be challenged to be their very best.

I tried to narrow down to one choice but found it impossible for me.

Knowing what I wanted to do, led to figuring out how to start. . .and that led to the realization that even to get started will require funding.  So I turned to a children’s story I had written in 1965, a story that I had always thought could be a classic.  Long story short. . .it was published last October.  It was published early because I received a calling to ‘put this story in the hands of the children.’  The message could not have been clearer.

But you can read all about these events in the blogs called ‘Back Story’ and ‘The Missions.’

Moving ahead, I’ve been planning for months to create a third non-profit to help get this story to children who otherwise might not learn of God’s grace.  The story is published by WestBow Press but is the product of Spirit of Light studios.  The Authors profit from sales of the story will be shared with non-profit organizations that help to get the book distributed to children everywhere.  Another portion of the Author’s profit will be put into a Community Foundation fund for the express purpose of creating the two missions mentioned above.

So, now that I have retired I am starting the process to create an association of non-profits that choose to participate in distributing the book.   This involves building a support website where I can register non-profits for distribution, accept donations from the public to purchase books to be distributed, and provide a place to post pictures from distribution events, to post artwork or stories created by young people in response to reading the story or any kind of creative activity.  Making donations is only one way to contribute.  The public can also help by spreading the word, by making youtube videos around the book. . .or implementing any creative ideas they have to appeal to a wider and wider audience.  I have way too many ideas to bore you with them here.

Once I get far enough in this process, I’ll focus more attention on finding all people in Central Illinois with an interest in, or calling for, helping developmentally delayed adults realize their full potential. . .and then finally on to a tuition free institution of higher learning.

This is meaningful work!

Second, as a relative newlywed I will be making time to have fun with my husband.  On day 4 of my retirement we cleaned up my boat and got it on the water.  On day 5 we rode his Harley down to Arthur for an early dinner.  It’s a good start.

But I love dancing and all creative adventures.  Having been an Art Educator, I’m looking for space for an art studio so I can ‘make a mess’ away from home, and a place where friends who also enjoy art can join me and exercise their creative inclinations as well.

Today, I started making calls/writing letters regarding properties I might be able to rent at a reasonable price.  And in furtherance of promoting the story, I am contacting WJBC, which sponsors “The Sounds of Christmas” concert.  I wrote them to express interest in having a young flash mob to tell the story of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There”. . .and am following up to see if they have any response.  I have a similar request to the Baby Fold for the Festival of Trees.  They are interested but are concerned that the acoustics in their new location will not support such a thing.  I may even have to turn to the local Mall!  Or maybe this won’t happen until next year.

I love variety!  For the most part, I love being busy although there are times when I feel like a slug.

I have an online newsletter, a blog really, about all of this activity.  Readers who are interested can come to this site and follow my progress.  Or if you wish to supply an email address, I will notify you by email whenever I have a new blog posting.

Next task!  Design the non-profit web site. . .then redesign my blog site!

All in all, I think retirement is going to be a blast!