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The Best Book I Have Ever Read - A Book Review that Might Change Your Life

Take a second to think back to the last memorable argument you had. I bet you wanted to say, or maybe even said, "You just don't understand me/what I'm saying at all!" However, chances are high that you don't understand them at all either. When they were talking, all you could think about were counterarguments to what they said or how their words proved they weren't listening to you instead of actually trying to understand their side. It becomes a game of ping-pong where the exact same ball is being bounced back and fourth, but neither you nor the other party actually examine what's on the ball. This can be fixed with one simple step. Simple, but not always easy. We are all human, we all have an ego, and we all want to be right. In wanting to be right, however, we forgo long-term benefits for what we feel to be a short-term win, and end up losing in where it counts - relationships. What if we could win in the short-term and in the long term?


We can! Just follow Stephen Covey's 5th habit: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Now take a minute to think of that argument again, but imagine yourself saying, "Hey, you know what? I don't think I am actually trying to understand your side. Can we start over? I think you are concerned about A and B. Am I understanding you correctly?" How do you think the other person would react? They would probably be caught off guard. They might say, "Yes, your'e right, I am concerned about those things," or they could say, "no, I'm actually concerned about C and D." If you don't fully understand, ask them to elaborate a little bit more if necessary. Now, you will be one step closer to solving the argument. And once you show that you truly want to understand their concerns and truly listen to them, they will want to understand your concerns, too.


Covey quotes Vikor Frankl's powerful realization that, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." We all have more power than we realize. Newton's third law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, doesn't have to hold true for interpersonal relationships. If we can learn to control our emotions, and seek to understand others instead letting our emotions control us and just reacting to words that are said, we can improve and deepen our relationship with those around us.


Some of you may be thinking that you have good relationships and others might thinking, "Why should I be the one to put all the effort in?" To those in the first group, great! You are probably a good listener! I have an important question for everyone, but especially for those in the second group. What is your life's purpose? As I read more books and talk to more people, I have come to realize something so powerful that stands out so brightly it is like giant flashing neon lights in the sky saying: The key to true SUCCESS and HAPPINESS is following one's life purpose. The problem is that we aren't, or at least I wasn't, taught how to find life purpose in school. When we are children, we are asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Our society focuses on people picking a job they like, or that suits them. But our purpose is much deeper than a job, and if we focus on the job, then we may end up feeling empty inside, and sometimes even depressed.


This is when we should follow Covey's second habit, which is to begin with the end in mind. While having a clear solid picture of where we want to end up is important, it goes deeper than that. What are our core values? What do we want people to remember us as? Covey has the reader go through a mental exercise that I would like to pass on to you. Close your eyes while performing each step of the mental exercise. Please take a minute to picture going to a funeral. As you walk towards the casket, picture your loved ones, friends and family, all around. Walk up to the casket. You look inside and see yourself. Now picture yourself listening to the eulogies of your family, friends, co-workers, bosses/employees. One by one, imagine what you would like each of them to say. What would you like your kids to say? Your siblings or cousins? What about your best friend? Your co-worker? Your boss or employee? What about a person who you didn't know well, but would have liked to know you better? If you just finished this exercise, you should have a better idea of the person you want to be. Now you just have to take the right steps to become that person. Do you want to be known as a good leader? Somebody who cared? Someone who was reliable? Or someone who was never there and was only around when they needed something? Only you know the person you want to be known as, and only you can make the choices in your life to be known as that person. Covey recommends making a life mission statement. Make it as detailed as possible that covers all the aspects of the person you want to be and the things you want to do. Do you want to be a person of integrity that succeeds in business and uses your success to help others in need? Do you want to be the most honest and hardest working person in the company you work for? Do you want to be a doctor who saves thousands of lives and helps people to live the best life they can be? Or do you just want to live an easy life, getting by on what you have, enjoying the simple pleasures and not getting in anyone else's way? The important thing is that you create a mission statement that is true to you and your life's purpose. If you do this, and live your life by this mission statement, then I truly believe you will live a meaningful life free from depression. I'm not saying it will be easy, but it will be fulfilling, exciting, and worthwhile to follow.


In order to live that life you want for yourself, you must follow Covey's 3rd habit and put first things first. Covey uses the 4 quadrants of things that are urgent and important (Q1), not urgent but important (Q2), urgent but not important (Q3), and neither urgent nor important (Q4) to help for organizing what daily tasks we should be putting our time and energy into. Q2 is the quadrant we want to spend most of our time in, as it is the quadrant that all the tasks furthering our long-term goals will fall into. Building up personal and business relationships, working out every day to keep our body healthy, learning every day to keep our mind healthy, and practicing daily gratitude are some of the tasks that would fall into Q2. Try writing down a list of everything you do, draw two perpendicular lines, label from left to right urgent and not urgent, top to bottom important and not important, and then start placing each ask where it belongs. Then, estimate how much time you are spending in each quadrant. For almost everyone, social media falls into Q4. We should all be spending as little time in Q4 as possible and as much time in Q2 as possible.


Lastly, I want to address the Win/Win mindset that Covey covers in habit 4. Many of us go back and forth between the Win/Lose or Lose/Win mindset. The Win/Lose mindset would be only focusing on what you want and disregarding the other party. The Lose/Win mindset would be focusing too much on the other party's wants and disregarding your own. The Win/Win mindset is where both parties work together to come up with a third option, one that neither party could come up on their own, that is not compromising, but where everyone wins. In order to do this however, both parties must take the time to truly understand one another and work together to come up with ideas and solutions that meet both parties needs. It is not always as easy, but the time and effort required result in an end agreement that is worth so much more and lasts so much longer without any resentment that comes along with feeling like you are losing out and compromising.


Stephen Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a book packed with extremely useful and practical knowledge that can truly transform all aspects life, including self-worth, family relations, and business relations. I only briefly touched upon a few of the 7 Habits. I cannot recommend this book enough, and I truly hope you go pick yourself up a copy of the book, whether it is in physical, electronic, or audio format. I personally have an audio-book copy in English and an e-book copy in Korean.


Thank you for reading my book review of Stephen Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.



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