Category Archives: What I’m reading

Sunday Salon 10-26-14

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Read But Still Unfinished

If you have been following this blog the last couple of months, you might have been wondering, “Are you ever going to finish that damned book?” The answer is yes, I have finished reading the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey. Here are a few of my thoughts on it:

In June for my birthday, I decided to read one self-help book a month for the rest of the year. I started with The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg and The Power of a Positive No: How To Say No and Still Get To Yes by William Ury in August, which I wrote about in a post mid-August. In September, I chose The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People after starting to use an app on my phone called My Effectiveness Habits that used the book as a basis.

While I didn’t find everything about the book applicable since I don’t work in a corporate environment, I did find one part in particular helpful. Under the section on Habit No. 3: Put First Things First, Covey presents what he calls Quadrant II thinking. Basically, Covey says there are four quadrants in our lives:

  1. Quadrant 1: Important and urgent, such as deadline-driven projects.
  2. Quadrant 2: Important but not urgent.
  3.  Quadrant 3: Not important but urgent.
  4.  Quadrant 4: Not important and not urgent.

The ideal is to be able to focus on Quadrant I and II first, especially Quadrant II, where often things that we do to better ourselves are placed. For example, at work one of the things I’ve been trying to do at the library where I work is “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (based on James 1:19 from The Bible) with my coworkers and the patrons there. However along with that, I have to focus on what Covey called “first things first,” those things that have to be done first, sometimes daily, sometimes once a week. So it’s not just about what you do at your job but how you do it.

I am learning also that those Quadrant II things, especially these three goals, are not something just to be crossed off daily. I can focus on one one day, focus on another another day. That doesn’t mean that I’m not attempting to keep all of them in mind daily, but that certain days I might focus on one more than another.

In practical terms, on Monday and Wednesday, I am focusing on being quick to listen, because those are my shortest days and I especially need to listen to what my coworkers are telling me about what happened earlier in the day. On Tuesday and Thursday, which are among my longer days, I focus on being slow to speak because I have a tendency to look for problems even when I arrive early. Finally on Friday, I focus on being slow to anger when I am dealing with more people, especially toward the end of the day.

As I mentioned in a post at the beginning of the month, unfortunately at the end of one week, on a Friday, I was tested  on all three actions with one “problem patron” in particular.  Although in the end, we both apologized to each other for our behavior, I “lost my shit,” fortunately not in front of the patron, but in a back room where I mouthed a few choice words and flailed my arms like a child in a temper tantrum. So while I didn’t completely fail, I learned that I still had (and have) work to do on that front.

Last week I was tested again with a patron but this time I think I passed. This patron wasn’t a “problem patron,” but again without going into details, I had to listen closely, speak slowly and not get mad with this particular patron. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t completely fail either – and didn’t get mad with the patron.

So yes, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but yes, I am still unfinished — with both it and myself. I allow what Covey calls concerns to bother me instead of focusing on what he calls influences and need to work on that. I also want to work on my own mission statement, and I am starting to see more clearly what that is.

I’ll leave you with a song, which although might not be my mission statement in total, it certainly reflects ideas (minus the language) that might make up part of it:

Of cookbooks, fashion, happiness…and more!

After a week off, I’m back to share some thoughts…but this time from others. Tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll share a few of my own, but for now, here are some thoughts from folks like you, maybe even you:

  • Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is “Checking Out Cookbooks” and this one caught my eye because I thought my wife would be interested in this.
  • Andi of Estella’s Revenge is talking “Personally: A Fashion Passion” and this one caught my eye because while I don’t have a fashion passion…yep, you got it, my wife does. Plus my wife and I can relate to losing weight like Andi has too.
  • Vasilly of 1330v: Thoughts of an Eclectic Reader is taking up a happiness project this week and since I recently finished a happiness project and still am working on productivity, I thought I would check this one out. See if you can’t relate too.
  • Stefanie of So Many Books – the agony and ecstasy of a reading life is “Celebrating Eleven Years” of blogging this past week. Sadly, I don’t always comment there like I should but I do attempt to keep up with her posts and when I do, I always am rewarded for it.
  • Florinda of The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness gives us “A Little Techy Talk: Which Device for What?” that made me think how much I miss my tablet which has been broken for a little while. I’ve been doing many things on my phone but it’s just not the same.
  • Tanya from Girlxoxo is starting her New Year’s Resolution planning early? What?!? Well, okay, I guess. ;) See what her goals are for 2015 and maybe it will inspire you too.
  • Erin Kurup writes on her personal blog about “What would happen if you wrote like nobody’s reading?” I’ll be honest I did think about y’all this time. That’s why I’m sharing, but still Erin has some good thoughts here on the writing process, that is applicable for authors and bloggers alike.
  • Last but not least, Andi of Andilit gives a shout-out for reading in the bathroom. As a fan of Reader’s Digest when I was growing up, I am with Andi in this. Go let her know what you think.

So there you go: Some thoughts from her. I’ll be back tomorrow with Flashback Friday and then Sunday, The Sunday Salon. See y’all then.

Going where the river flows with my reading

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What a difference a month makes…or maybe it really doesn’t depending on how you look at it.

I started September with big plans, in fact, a new plan to schedule exercise on the very first day of the month, and by the second day of the month, I was gung-ho about a new routine.

I’ve been using an app called My Effectiveness Habits in conjunction with the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey to schedule my life and lessen stress in it. This also relates to a post from August in which I discussed trying to implement power from “Power of” books, specifically The Power of a Positive No: How To Say No and Still Get To Yes by William Ury and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

I’ve been getting signs throughout September that not everything can go according to plan. I was reminded of this not only by the wrench in the works, but also by my moments of Zen being interrupted two Wednesdays in a row: first by a zipper and then by a proselytizer. Then on Friday just as this month is beginning, I am reminded again that even the best laid plans…

To wit, one of the things on which I’m working, in addition to scheduling the routine things I do daily and weekly at work at the library, is how I do those things. This is something that dawned on me this week that Covey isn’t just talking about what we do but how we do those things. For example, I’ve added a goal of “To be compassionate” on the My Effectiveness Habits app with the following actions:

  • Don’t look for trouble.
  • Be slow to speak.
  • When speak, speak politely.

Yesterday, I set them up as reminders for different times of the day: the first for first thing in the morning because that’s when I have a habit of looking for what I call “problem patrons.” Then I set the other two for later in the day since those things become harder to remember as I encounter more people than when the day first started. Without going into details, unfortunately at the end of the day, I was tested on the overall goal and all three actions with one “problem patron” in particular. In the end, we both apologized to each other for our behavior but not before I “lost my shit,” fortunately not in front of the patron, but in a back room where I mouthed a few choice words and flailed my arms like a child in a temper tantrum. So while I didn’t completely fail, I learned that I still have work to do.

I am still seeking that balance between scheduling and not scheduling and scheduling the not scheduling too, if that makes sense. Even with my reading, which my Sunday Salon posts are supposed to be about and are in a roundabout way sometimes, I am attempting to find that balance between planning and not planning. On that note, I am wiping the slate clean with my reading as of Tuesday morning and, to mix metaphors (because I’m good at that, if nothing else), going where the river flows, as Collective Soul put it in the mid-1990s.

I’ve already cleared all my holds of ebooks from The Free Library of Philadelphia and will be taking back the few books I have out from our library, including Covey’s book and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, edited by Marjorie Maddox and Jerry Wemple. I also am taking back another book unread, because I’ve decided I don’t want to read it, at least right now, and whose title I’m not going to say so you don’t try to pressure me into reading it if you’ve read it. I’ll give you a hint: it’s a murder mystery, so that should narrow it down for you. ;)

By next month, of course, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled programming with books, meaning that I’ll have too many books on my hold shelf and too many books out from the library, more than three-quarters of which I’ll probably never get around to reading. But for now, I’m going off-roading on my reading.

As for the rest of my life, it’s not just about the scheduling and not scheduling, but also about the doing and not doing, a topic I’ll probably cover in an upcoming post, maybe for this Thursday’s Thoughts. Who knows maybe I’ll even do another 100 Days project? After all, I was able to complete one in 100 Happy Days. But we’ll see. We’ll see…where the river flows.