by Doyin Jaiyesimi
How can I ever forget the book that changed my life?
At a point in my life, when I was descending into a world of revenge and violence, Covey’s book was like a knight in shining armour; rescuing me from the dark world I inadvertently found myself in.
My parents had just separated in the strangest of ways. One minute we were a happy family and the next my dad just moved out. No explanation. Nothing. My nine year old self could not comprehend it. As I started secondary school, things only got worse; no thanks to the tumultuous relationship between my mother and I. I was bitter. I was angry and I sure wasn’t anybody’s best friend in the real sense of the word.
Then one day, my dad bought me a gift; one I would cherish for years to come. He knew that I loved to read and he wanted me to move beyond reading the likes of Sweet Valley High and Enid Blyton books. So while my friends got cosy with Mills and Boons, I was entangled in the ‘7 Habits’ world.
7 Habits for me was one of those books that you just couldn’t drop after reading the first page (I was later to discover that only my dad and I shared this thought). I felt as if Covey knew exactly what I was going through and he was out to help me.
I was introduced to the concept of a paradigm; that lens through which we view the world. In my world I only saw darkness, hence, everything I did always ended up being negative. I learnt that my paradigm could change. Everyone was not out to get me and there was more to life than I thought. Covey said everything depended on me. If I wanted to see changes in my world, I had to start with myself; work from the inside-out and that’s exactly what I did.
Although I finished reading 7 habits in a week, the principles it in it were permanently etched in my heart. I knew I had to make changes and this was not going to be another fad. It wasn’t my mother’s fault that I was a very angry child neither were my friends the reason for my ever-constant mood swings. I had to get rid of the words, “That’s the way I am, life made me this way”. So what did I do? I became proactive instead of being reactive. Never again was I going to let anybody or my environment determine my mood. Even though I was 11 at the time, I knew I had to take control of my life. I had to stop blaming people for my actions. I also promised myself that I will never be defined by my parents’ separation. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but I was committed. I learnt to appreciate and value people. I also began to laugh a lot and enjoyed the little privileges of life.
Soon enough, I was being transformed into a different being. I set goals and had a personal mission statement which I reviewed constantly. And when I achieved my goals, the sense of accomplishment was priceless.
7 Habits caused me to do a lot of deep soul searching and it made me wise beyond my years. I began to dissemble the walls I had built around myself. No; not completely but one brick at a time. I realised that the reason I felt so angry was because no one understood me but how could they understand me when I didn’t give them a chance? Worse, I didn’t even care to understand them. I began to invest in friendships and relationships. The recluse soon became a talkative and a good listener. When I opened the door of my life to others, I saw life in its true beauty. God didn’t create me to be locked up and alone. I knew I was taking a risk. What if my friends hurt me? What if I have a boyfriend that breaks my heart? Well it was a risk I was willing to take. Looking back, I’m glad I took that that risk.
It’s been a while since I last read ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, but I can never forget the principles I learnt from it. Stephen Covey may not have had me in mind when he wrote the book but he wrote it for me. I look at the woman I have become 11 years later and I am grateful to God for the day I decided to alter the course of my life; when I decided to be free from the trappings of a broken home.
RIP Stephen Covey.