On my refrigerator, this is a little sign that has a triangle. The sides of the triangle read; “Happy Kid, Clean House, Sane Parent” and below the triangle it states; “You may choose two.” In life, it is important to strike a balance (Covey, 1989, p. 147). Knowing what is important in one’s life and how to make it a priority is the Habit of putting “First Things First.” Do I want a happy kid or is a clean house more important? Does my sanity come at the cost of the happy child? The well-balanced life will give time to what is valued. Health, Spirit, Mind, Emotions and Socializing are all part of the balance of life. How one places their attention and effort into these many facets is the trick. Ignoring one part of the life for the sake of another, throws life out balance and there can be consequences. Covey (1989) states, “Although renewal in each dimension is necessary, it only becomes optimally effective as we deal with all four dimensions in a wise and balanced way. To neglect any one area negatively impacts the rest (Covey, 1989, p. 155).
HABIT SEVEN: Sharpen the Axe
I am the ax. The antidote of the young lumberjack and the old lumberjack comes to mind. The story is set up to foreshadow the young woodcutter to win. When ironically the elderly lumberjack wins, the narrative begs us to find out why. The young lumberjack spent his whole time swinging his ax, while the old lumberjack took the time to attend to the axe. Therefore the lesson of the story is to remind us that we, the axe, need to be attended to. When need the grinding and the honing to make our lives more productive.
For myself, finding time to sharpen all parts of myself is tricky and at times can be challenging. I try to take a nice walk in the redwoods, with my family, at least once a week. This is an excellent way to address my physical, spiritual, and social/emotional needs. As I walk through these great trees, I am exercising my body. I find that a simple walk through the redwoods resets my spiritual compass, a very transcendental experience. I was walking with my wife, we plan our week, our month, and just share what’s on our minds. I watch my daughter run and skip through trees that have been alive since the time of Plato and Augustus. I am frequently humbled and renewed. If I sharpen my saw correctly, in any one given area, I sharpen all parts of my life. “Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. The things you do to sharpen the saw in any one dimension have a positive impact in other dimensions because they are so highly interrelated. Your physical health affects your mental health; your spiritual strength affects your social/emotional strength. As you improve in one dimension, you increase your ability in other dimensions as well” (Covey, 1989, p. 156).
TEACHING THE HABIT
Teaching the Covey’s (1989) Seven Habits to sixth graders might seem like a silly task. The life of a middle schooler is complex and confusing. This kids lack the self awareness that is need to reflect on their own behaviors. I feel that our weekly lessons on the Habits have been like little seeds. I have planted some ideas. I hope to water the seeds by revisiting my lessons. But the real trick is to create the opportunity for students to nurture their own habits. My plan is to show students how to use Google Calendar. This may not seem like an earth-shattering event and to be honest it isn’t. However, I know of no student who uses a calendar to plan for their day, week, or month. As we become familiar with the calendar, the students and I will create tasks that will allow for the students to plan for a balanced life. I will allow for weekly calendar updating, each Monday. This is a simple experiment, and I have no idea how this will turn out. I believe that if even one student uses the calendar, or uses it in the future, then my experiment will be successful.
Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster.