Sean Covey:
7 Habits Just For Teens?

When I first picked up Sean Covey The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens I expected to read a reproduction of Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

I was impressed to discover that this book is more than Seven Habits "light".

Sean Covey remains true to the seven habits model first published by his father, Stephen Covey, in 1989. But to be honest this book actually adds to to the original model, and helps to make the model more accessible.

That's why I will be giving each of my children a copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens on their 13th birthday.

Sean Covey is currently Senior Vice President of Innovations and Products at FranklinCovey. He's written a number of books including:

Fourth Down and Life to Go: How to Turn Life's Setbacks Into Triumphs (1990)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Sean Covey: seven habits for teens book cover

Sean Covey avoids the academic writing style that you'll find in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and delivers the seven habits model in an easy to read, humerous style that does not lose any of the impact of the seven habits.

For this reason I believe that The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens is not a book that's just for teens!

I've met adults who've not read the seven habits because it looks like a long and serious book. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens is an excellent and easy to read introduction to the seven habits for both adults and teenagers.

Of course, Sean Covey wrote the book with teenagers in mind. And he's included many first hand stories written by teens to demonstrate each of the seven habits in action. The seven habits form a powerful model for personal change and provide a direction for what can be a confusing time of life.

Each of the seven habits is brilliantly explained using relevant examples and scenarios:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin With The End In Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize, and
  7. Sharpen the Saw.

The author also spends time explaining paradigms and principles, as well as building personal and relationship bank accounts.

This overview provides more detail of each of the seven habits.

Why this works

I really enjoyed the artwork, illustrations and cartoons that make this book a "visual feast". Most of all there's plenty of humor used throughout The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens - this makes it easy and fun to read.

Each of the chapters ends with a page of simple and practical "Baby Steps" - lots of ideas to help you get moving and put the habits into practice.

Covey doesn't shy away from addressing the important topics such as dating, sex and schoolwork. He doesn't tell you what you should be doing, but rather emphasises the importance of making your own decisions based on values that I believe many of us who are parents would subscribe to.

I thought the list of 50 reasons "you're not ready to have sex" was a hit. My personal favorite? You're not ready to have sex if...your idea of committment is a 3-day video rental!

Is there anything new?

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey reinforces the seven habits model as a model that provides strong values to guide responses to change, and for managing change in life.

Covey adds to the existing seven habits model by reinterpreting the material and using accessible language. His description of the 4-quadrant time management model that's part of habit 3, "Put First Things First", is a case in point.

To effectively manage time he emphasises that we need to aim to spend our time in the second quadrant. This is where you deal with things that are important to your values and goals, but that are not urgent. Someone occupying this quadrant he names the 'Prioritizer' and he gives each of the other quadrants equally self explanatory titles.

Sean Covey: "Move out of your comfort zone".

He also encourages us to be ready to move out of our "Comfort Zone" every now and then and learn to move in our "Courage Zone". This is where we deal with "new stuff" - things we might be afraid of or have never tried before.

Similarly, in habit 1, "Be Proactive", Covey does not go into great detail about Circles of Concern and Circles of Influence. Instead he describes a Circle of Control where we have control over our choices, responses and attitudes. He contrasts this to the Circle of No Control where there are parts of life over which we accept we have no control, such as skin color, the weather, and past mistakes.

I found these descriptions very refreshing.

If you are a teenager, or know a teenager, you'd do well to buy The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Equally, if you're an adult who can't quite get through The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I'd recommend this book. Sean Covey provides a solid model for managing change in life in a fun and highly readable format.

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