Steven Covey passed away this past month and so I dedicate this newsletter to his teachings. Covey is most famous for writing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In addition to his 7 Habits, he spoke passionately about being a leader, private victories, and other topics related to the choices we make in our lives. One of the important teachings was a concept borrowed from Victor Frankel, in his words, “in between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lay our freedom to respond and our happiness.” (Click here for an inspirational Frankel Video). Covey then added that, “we have unique human endowments as humans—self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and imagination.” Further, he said “we are not the product of our past; rather, we have the power to choose.” So, in that space, we can apply these endowments. To listen to an entertaining psychologist’s perspective as to why we make bad decisions, watch Dan Gilbert.
With all of your competing demands, what are your priorities? What are most important tasks for you to complete? Everyone has demands on you—your boss, your children and spouse, community commitments. Covey would say that you are responsible for designing your life—“you are the programmer” (Habit 1), now write the program (Habit 2), and live the program (Habit 3). Regarding the writing of your program, listen to a smart Harvard psychologist speak about how making lists saves lives.
We have the ability to choose our priorities, our reactions to the past, and in the final analysis, we are, as Sartre has said, “condemned to freedom.” In your calendar, schedule dissertation time, family and work commitments, and exercise. Make appointments with yourself—and keep them!
As many of you will be graduating this August, I say congratulations! For those that are planning to finish soon, get the support you need and get that darn dissertation or thesis finished, I can be personally reached at: [email protected]. There is a whole lot of learning and joy that happens after graduation. I’ll leave you with a quote from Sartre:
“Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.”
To all the Covey’s lovers out there, keep practicing those Habits.
The best to you and your family,
James Lani, Ph.D.
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