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Dr Stephen Richard Covey, the acclaimed author of the bestselling motivational book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, passed away due to injuries he suffered in a bicycle accident.

As a young man, he had an ailment that caused his thigh bones to deteriorate and left him dependent on crutches for several years. Perhaps this experience shaped his philosophy, which emphasises that you will flourish by focusing on the aspects of life that you can control rather than by reacting to external forces.

Learning from some oft-quoted words of Covey, we can devise an approach to life that works well in professional situations:

1. We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.” You are not limited by the accomplishments of your parents or confined to the achievements of your peers. You are the creative force of your life, and if you use your imagination without dwelling on the past, you can accomplish your goals. You can’t progress very far looking out of the rear view mirror of life; use your imagination to look ahead.

2. Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” Your habits determine your character and your character will determine your life. Your character is the foundation for your life, so if you want to change your life, you must first change your character.

3. There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.” You can either decide to play the victim, or you can decide to change your life by aligning your choices with principles that produce success. Just trying harder isn’t the answer; setting goals for yourself and working towards them is.

To sum it up, what is most resonant of Covey’s philosophy is a quote from the foreword of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

– Fauzia Kerai Khan

The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training,
eLearning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 29, 2012.