Monday, March 04, 2013

BookPastor >> "Everyday Greatness" (Stephen R. Covey)

TITLE:  Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life
AUTHOR: Stephen R. Covey, with articles compiled by David K. Hatch
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 2009, (464 pages).

Three everyday choices help us make our day and shape our lives. Firstly, there is the choice to act rather than to be acted upon. Secondly, it is the choice to be purposeful in what we do rather than to be tossed and turned by the waves of activities. Thirdly, it is the choice for contending for principles. This book attempts to accomplish all three and that readers will learn to do the same. While the commentary and some insights are from the late Covey, the compilation of stories and quips are done by Hatch, a consultant in leadership and organizational matters. In the style of the Seven Habits that Covey has introduced to the world, 'Everyday Greatness' is about the Seven Choices that individuals can make in order to be inspired toward everyday greatness. The choice to:
  1. Search for meaning through giving via contribution, through sharing in charity, and through paying attention.
  2. Take charge by taking responsibility, be courageous, and to be disciplined
  3. Change oneself from the inside out, through integrity, humility, and gratitude
  4. Create the dream through vision, innovation, and quality work
  5. Work as a team, through respect, empathy, and unity.
  6. Overcome adversity by learning adaptability, magnanimity, and perseverance
  7. Blending the pieces of balance, simplicity, and renewal.
The stories are compelling. The ideas are challenging. The many different kinds of stories of different lengths ensure that at least one or two can touch most readers. Even the short quips and quotes from various people can cause one to pause and to reflect on life and the choices we can make. We are what we choose. That is the mantra throughout the book. I find myself coming back to this book time and again in my writing and my speaking. It is inspiring and thought-provoking, challenging and yet non-assuming. It brings out the best of people and is a powerful resource to help move the uninspired to being inspired, the motivated to motivate others, and the desire to be the best that one can be.  Some of Covey's insights show us again how powerful they are.

  • "We may feel we have nothing to contribute. But the lessons of history are full of examples of the power that can come from the daily choices of a solitary individual." (20)
  • "Core to the principle of charity is the principle of sacrifice. Sacrifice involves giving up something of personal value in exchange for something that is of benefit to others......" (30)
  • "Charity is more than giving money to the poor. It is the giving of our hearts, time, talents, and energies to lighten the lives of others, rich or poor." (37)
  • "Of course the highest form of giving attention is to accept and love a person for who they are." (57)
  • "When problems arise, the easy route is to play the blame game or make excuses. But the most successful people avoid scapegoating, choosing instead to accept responsibility when the responsibility is theirs to own." (77)
  • "Happiness in life comes from the inside. It does us little good to sit back and wait for it to come from outside sources." (78)
  • "The largest opponent to courage is fear - fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of others. Successful people acknowledge fears, but work to conquer them." (98)
  • "Integrity includes consistency and an unwavering adherence to values and beliefs." (136)
  • "Though humility is not a tangible commodity, we know it when we see it and feel it when we hear it." (158)
  • "Vision helps us see the possibilities of tomorrow within the realities of today, and motivates us to do what needs to be done." (196)
  • "Creative people make the pursuit of knowledge a priority. They study the important questions of life, and compile a reservoir of knowledge for instant access." (216)
  • "Exploration is at the root of innovation. Serendipity is the unintended consequences, the happy surprises, or the synergistic blossoms that occasionally arise from exploration." (219)
  • "When we treat people with respect, we help them gain confidence and reveal inner potential that otherwise might go untapped." (261)
  • "Adversity often brings out the true spirit and character within people and leads them to make the noblest of choices." (322)
  • Busy Signals: "Life travels at a pace so fast that too many people end up bypassing that which matters most." (383)
  • Simplicity: "To get the most out of our life we may need to get some things out of our life." (402)
  • "Keeping life simple requires letting go of old baggage and things that are of no lasting value." (403)
  • "People who want to enjoy life over the long term must learn to tame their schedules and pace themselves." (423)
  • "Often nature and life's little detours bring fresh air and a renewal of energy in ways no other activity can." (426)
The book concludes with six suggestions.
  1. Begin with yourself
  2. Start Broad, then Focus
  3. Establish specific, realistic targets
  4. Start small, but get started
  5. Share with others
  6. Be patient

I find this book exceptional not only because of the touching stories and moving quotes. The commentary by Covey itself is worth the price of the book. The way I will use this book is to read slowly and reflectively. There is no reason to try to finish the book from cover to cover. Savour it when you need to. Read it when you have to. Buy it not just because you need it or may need it, but because you like to bless another person.


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