This is the first post in the Why You Should Read This Book blog series.
Imagine you have died and are now attending your funeral.
You have no control over who will attend or what will be said at your eulogy. What is it you would like to be said about you?
Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said: Have the end in mind, and live your life accordingly.
I remember the first time I read that principle in his book in 1989. I mention the year of publication because the book is still as timely as it was when Covey first wrote it.
As the title presents, there are 7 habits or principles that everyone can adopt as guidelines for human conduct. He identifies seven principles by which we could live by, on which can hold powerful impact on human capacity.
For example: Seek first to understand, then to be understood; think win/win; begin with the end in mind.
However, we can’t just read a book and then begin new ways.
Covey says that we must first understand ourselves, how we view the world and what ‘paradigm’, or what experiences and perceptions have shaped our understanding of life.
Here is a simple example of a paradigm.
Some readers might remember this timely experiment. Is this a picture of a young woman wearing a necklace? Or do you see a very old woman?
Spoiler alert: The answer is both. But only if you are willing to make a paradigm shift.
Unless you knew there was another way of looking at this picture, you would be willing to argue your perspective, only to be confronted with what someone else sees in the picture.
Here’s another paradigm shift from my own personal experiences.
When I saw the beginning of this video, I was sure, though it was on America’s Got Talent, the group was going to do some physical demonstration of something ‘gang’ related. Their intimidating appearance initially screamed something good is NOT going to happen.
Well, I was in for a surprise.
(By the way, you should check out our recent podcast interview with the group here for more insight on how they aim to shift paradigms and break barriers.)
Why You Should Read This Book
Top 3 takeaways from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
- “It’s a principle that all things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious design. In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our circle of influence to shape much of our lives by default.”
- Real success is success with self. It’s not in having things, but in having mastery, having victory over self.
- Change – real change- comes from the inside out.
How can social entrepreneurs apply this book to life?
The seven principles in this book are applicable in organizations and enterprises.
And you must begin with yourself. As Covey says: One of the immensely valuable aspects of any correct principle is validity in any circumstance.
In conclusion: why read this book?
The current state of US politics and the upcoming election blatantly demonstrate the power of paradigms by which people form their view of life.
How can we change our paradigms, or make a paradigm shift? How can we see the old woman when all we saw is the young woman?
The theory of change for ourselves is the same in social impact, summed as:
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”