The Warm-up

Sean Covey did a great service writing his book titled “The 7 habits of highly effective teenagers!” I don’t care about the over two million copies sold. What engaged me was the truth and sincerity it held for a retired teenager such as me. If only I could have had this publication, while I was the impulsive, emotionally charged and blatantly smug teenager I was then. I wouldn’t have had so many regrets. Qadar’Allah! It’s never too late to learn a few good lessons in life for old disasters such as me. (Allah (swt) always pulls me out of despair.)

So, coming back to you! If you are anything like a regular teenager, you might be thinking any of the following:

  1. Here comes another lecture. I can surely skip this one.
  2. My set of trials is unique! How can anyone even come close to understanding them?
  3. Advice? I know better.
  4. I am what I am. Take it or leave it! Nobody is gonna change me.
  5. I’ll only give it a try if it works like a magic potion. No sweating involved!

Well, your suspicion and skepticism is respected. But you would agree that for anything to work for you, you need to give it a shot wholeheartedly. Otherwise, it’s just not fair to you or any strategy advised.

For teenagers, life is no more a play ground. In fact, it’s a jungle out there. You might be familiar with some of the struggles faced today globally by the youth. Believe me – you are not alone:

  • I feel as if I am tied to a clock. School, homework, friends, social commitments! It just goes on…
  • I am all the time reminded that if I were smarter, prettier, richer, I would be happier.
  • Nothing works for me. I just feel out of control.
  • My parents seem to nag about almost everything and just do not understand me.
  • I know I do stuff that I shouldn’t be doing, but I can’t say no to my friends.
  • I am overweight and have given up a million diet plans. I just don’t have the will power to change, though I want to!
  • I get moody and depressed every now and then.
  • I am afraid I can’t get the grades I need to get me into a decent university or college.

This is not a movie that ends after a bucket of popcorn. We are talking about real life here. And to handle real life challenges, we need a set of strong tools to help us deal with them effectively. Well, this is what Sean Covey offers. It has been briefly laid down here and is open to discussion in our upcoming issues in greater detail:

  1. Be proactive: It’s your life. Take responsibility for it. You owe it to yourself!
  2. Begin with the end in mind: Ask yourself: what is the mission and goal of my life?
  3. Put first things first: Be wise and prioritize. Begin with the most important things.
  4. Think win-win: Strive for universal success. It’s far more delightful to share triumph, rather than just bask in glory, in solitude.
  5. First, seek to understand; then, to be understood: Use your ears more often than your tongue. Listen to people sincerely.
  6. Synergize: Be a team player. Work together for greater achievements.
  7. Sharpen the saw: Renew and improvise on a regular basis. Constant learning is the greatest way of life!

Another Angle

Sean Covey’s diagram of a tree will aptly help you understand the power of the seven habits of highly effective teens

  • These habits build on one another. The first three habits that form the roots of the tree are related to victory on a personal basis. They deal with self mastery. Our plan of action must begin with private victory on a personal level.
  • The next three habits bring success in the public arena, forming the trunk of the tree. They are all about relationship building and team work.
  • The last habit, which represents the fruit and greenery of the tree, is the habit of renewal. This habit feeds all the other six habits.

The above mentioned habits are sequential in nature, and for optimum benefit must follow the sequence suggested by the author. Also, they might just seem ordinary, but in order to assess their real power, we can look at them from another angle. This will tell us, what these habits are not. So the following are the opposites – the reverse of an effective teenager!

Seven habits of highly defective teenagers:

Habit 1: React

This is like playing the blame game. When something goes wrong in life, blame the parents, teachers, relatives, neighbours, system, government, even strangers. Think like a victim, who has no control over anything, hence, take no responsibility. Act like an animal, who eats when hungry. Do wrong, in spite of knowing it is wrong.

Habit 2: Begin with no end in mind

Do not believe in a plan. Avoid goals at all costs. Live for the moment. Eat, drink, party, be merry, get wasted. Today is all that you have, and who has seen tomorrow? For tomorrow may never come. You just may die today. So make the most of it. Live for instant gratifications.

Habit 3: Put first things last

Whatever matters most, delay it as much as possible. Do stuff that can be done later, or better off not being done at all, such as chatting on the phone endlessly, watching TV like a couch potato, lounging around, etc. Always put off your homework until tomorrow, cram in studying for your exams right the night before.

Habit 4: Think win-lose

Always look at life as a vicious competition. Anyone, who even comes close to overtaking you in the rat race, is your staunch enemy. They are all out there to get you. Try to beat them, and if you can’t, try to drag them down with you. No one else should win at any cost.

Habit 5: Seek first to talk, and then pretend to listen

Consider taking your birth right. Always ensure that you dominate the conversation with anyone. Begin it and end it with you having the final say. Only after others have heard your views loud and clear, pretend to listen to them. While they talk, look distracted, nod occasionally not taking their views seriously.

Habit 6: Don’t cooperate

Be your own island. Worship your own ideas and think of others as weird, because they are different. Since they are different, what is the point of getting along with them? Do not believe in team work. That’s for the weak people, who wish to survive on other people’s creativity.

Habit 7: Wear yourself out

Be so occupied with your life, that you never find time to improve yourself. Do not believe in changing for the better. Don’t learn anything new. Avoid anything that may sound healthy for the body or inspiring for the soul. Stay away from exercise, good books, nature, etc.