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‘Book Reviews’ Category

  1. The death of a leader – Dr. Stephen Covey

    July 25, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    I was so saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Stephen R. Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book was the first personal development-type book I ever read and I still regard it as one of the finest books in its genre of all time.  The only book that ever had more eye-opening impact on my thinking was The Bible.

    I picked up the book a lot of years ago, when I was working as a legal secretary in downtown Baltimore City.  I wandered into a bookstore on my lunch hour, spotted the book and was intrigued. I still recall how revolutionary the very first habit appeared to my early-20’s young self.  Habit One is “Be Proactive.”  Stop acting as though everything and everybody else directs your life. You direct your own life.  It seems very elementary now, but at the time, that was a complete lightbulb moment. Maybe when you’re only 2o years old, you’re still so used to childhood where most things depended on somebody else that some of us are a little late to this epiphany.  That was me – late to the epiphany. But at least I had one!

    I truly began to see that a large amount of what happened in my life was inside of my “circle of influence”; they were things I had power to change. Covey says, “The Circle of Influence is filled with the be’s – I can be more patient, be wise, be loving.  It’s the character focus” (Covey, 1990, p.89). I was in a not-terribly-healthy relationship in my late teens. Covey’s book revealed to me that it wasn’t just how I was treated by That Guy, but how I was allowing That Guy to treat me. My demeanor, my responses, my permission – I invited the behavior I did not like.*  I wish I hadn’t wasted that part of my life, but I’m glad I learned a better way pretty early on.

    The other six habits are certainly worth learning, too. I re-read that book from time to time. One would do well to live with integrity through the additional six habits – Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw.

    Goodbye Covey. You were an outstanding example of a life well-lived.


    *Don’t misunderstand this as though I am saying battered women “ask for it.” I was not physically abused by That Guy. But there is an element worth considering here if you’re in a relationship that is unfair and imbalanced.

  2. Serendipity

    June 18, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    It’s weird when things dovetail. When they just fall out of the sky and land joined together, right in your lap. I like it and at the same time, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a little.

    I was thinking of doing a book review on here for a great book I recently read called The Power of Story, by Jim Loehr.  This is a fascinating form of self-help (I hate that term), personal growth book. It’s very oriented towards the corporate world, but the application is relevant to anyone.  The gist of the book is that our lives are stories, stories with multiple threads, such as fitness, spiritual life, relationships, work, etc.  The author continues the story metaphor throughout and towards the end, urges you to physically write one or more “new stories” for yourself in whatever area needs a new story. Being a writer, I am intrigued by this form of exercise. And yet, the 240-page book is sitting with a bookmark inserted at page 233, where I balked and hesitated about actually writing a new story or two. It is inexplicably hard to actually write a new story, especially when you know you’re writing it because you plan to make that story yours. The copy sitting on my nightstand is a library copy, due tomorrow, and I’m out of renewals. I think a secret place in me wanted the book to go back before I made myself write a new story.

    So, there I am, ignoring story, even while I’m telling myself in the back of my mind that that’s a great idea, a worthy goal, definitely something I need to do. I stroll into Barnes & Nobel, killing time (and clearly, needing another book to read about as badly as I need a side of bacon, having a wanna-read list as long as my arm and about 6 kindle books in the queue already). I meander over to the Christian section, thinking I want to read Seven Sacred Pauses. I spot a few books by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, which I loved.  He has a book out called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, so I flip through and impulsively decide to buy it.

    Here’s where it gets weird. By page 39, Don says this, “…I wondered whether a person could plan a story for his life and live it intentionally.”  What you need to know is that is the exact premise of the book The Power of Story. The exact premise. Don continues to use this story metaphor in speaking about areas of his life he wants to get straightened out. He even has a chapter where he spoke to a friend of his about the story happening in this man’s family and the man abruptly decided to go build an orphanage in Mexico. Helping orphans. There’s a story I’ve had nibbling at the edges of my brain for about 10 years. More serendipity. Totally goes with Jen Hatmaker’s 7 as well.

    Someone Higher Up wants to tell some stories with me, I think. It’s weird and fascinating when coincidences line up this way. I feel like I have a sixth sense turned on, like I’m getting the “feelies” about something about to happen. It makes me excited, even as it scares me to death. I’ve followed these sorts of trails before and they haven’t always gone well. But then, maybe that was just Part I of a good story. I just need the courage to write the rest.