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Posted March 23, 2005

From Effectiveness to Greatness
By Stephen R. Covey
NY, Free Press: 2004
ISBN 0684846659

Reviewed by: Lon Woodbury

It has been 15 years since Covey published his fabulously successful classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The 8th Habit is, in a very real sense, the sequel based on his experience and research during the last 15 years. Based on Covey's assessment of the changes in our society, he felt the need to add an 8th habit that is necessary for success in both the personal and business world of early 21st Century western society.

He explains that the original seven habits are still necessary for a person to be effective in his/her life and work, but with the changes in the world during the last 15 years, effectiveness is no longer enough to survive the challenges and complexities all of us face. He calls what we are now living the new Knowledge Worker Age, and to thrive and excel, a person must strive for "fulfillment, passionate execution and significant contribution." This new required mind-set he calls the eighth habit, which he sees as finding "our voice and inspire others to find theirs." He sees the eighth habit "as the answer to the soul's yearning for greatness, the organization's imperative for significance and superior results, and humanity's search for its 'voice."

With many examples and stories, the author sees the early 21st Century as an "Age of Wisdom," where people must develop an understanding of the whole person, and for an organization to thrive, let alone survive, all the people in the organization must strive to fulfill their own potential. Gone, he says, is the old industrial mind-set where those at the top make the important decisions with the rest simply carrying out orders. The author sees this view of people as seeing them as "fragmented parts," which will result in mediocrity at best, and is an enormous waste of talent, productivity and personal fulfillment.

He sees the world we live in as one of constant Change. Common terms reflecting this in the business world are "downsizing," "outsourcing," and "networking." In other words, the world is constantly reinventing itself and last year's solutions are frequently inadequate for this year's problems. The anchor a person must have to maintain their stability and perspective through all the changes are well grounded Principles, such as integrity, trustworthiness, consistent values and empowering others. And, Choice is your judgment as to how you apply your basic principles when faced with the complexity of challenges in life.

Several emotional growth schools and programs, and clinical programs with emotional growth maturing aspects, based a part of their programs on his earlier book, with good results in helping their students mature into responsible young men and women. The ideas in The 8th Habit will naturally be an extension of those efforts. I recommend that all professionals in this network become familiar with Covey's ideas. There is a reason Covey is referred to as one of the 25 most influential Americans. He seems to have his finger on the reality of the world for which students today are being prepared. This is especially true in this Emotional Growth/Therapeutic schools and programs network with its goal of turning lost and confused young people into responsible, mature and effective adults.

About the Author:
[Stephen R Covey is a self-help book author of such books as the 7 habits of highly effective people and his recent publication of the 8th Habit. Covey graduated from Harvard with an MBA and spent most of his career at Utah's Brigham Young University, where he was a professor of organizational behavior and business management.]

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Copyright © 2005, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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