Everyday Greatness by Steven Covey is a compilation of stories taken throughout the history of Reader’s Digest with additional commentary provided by Steven Covey, writer of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Like in The 7 Habits, he uses a 7 step process to help readers learn values that if implemented, will help them obtain the goal of living a life of everyday greatness. Each step of the process teaches us 3 new values. He argues that it is in the choices we make and the actions we take on a daily basis that compound to create a great life. By using stories from Reader’s Digest to help emphasize each value, he provides real world examples that illustrate the importance of each if you want to live your life to the fullest.
My review will outline the 7 steps, list each value to be learned along the way, as well as provide an example of how each value can be implemented on a daily basis.
The 7 steps to living a life of Everyday Greatness:
- Searching for Meaning
- Taking Charge
- Starting Within
- Creating the Dream
- Teaming With Others
- Overcoming Adversity
- Blending the Pieces
Step 1: Searching for Meaning
The first part of the process requires us to determine how to live a life of meaning. Covey argues that this can be done by applying the following values to our life:
- Contribution – Finding work that allows us to provide value to the world
- Daily Greatness (DG): Giving your input at work or to a friend or family member who is looking for advice
- Charity – Doing work that allows us to provide benefit to those who may be less fortunate than ourselves
- DG: Donating your time or money to a worthwhile cause
- Attention – Being focused and providing our undivided attention to someone who may be in need
- DG: Putting your phone away when you get home and having an undisturbed conversation with your parents or loved one about how their day was
Step 2: Taking Charge
The 2nd step is to realize that although our exterior conditions do have an impact on our lives, it is our internal decisions that are far more important when it comes to what type of life we live. By implementing the following values into our life, we take charge over our situation:
- Responsibility – Realizing that we are in charge of our life and that it is not up to fate or luck to determine how we live and what we achieve
- DG: Just take action! Sitting around and waiting for someone else to do something will get you no where. Follow Nike’s advice and JUST DO IT!
- Courage – Being able to take action and stand up for what we believe in when faced with a difficult decision or task
- DG: If you are in a situation when you don’t know how to do something, realize that not doing it will only make it worse and if need be, simply ask for help
- Discipline – Being able to focus on what is most important and not being distracted by momentary urges or procrastination
- DG: Use apps to block distractions such as Facebook and email and set a reminder to ask yourself multiple times a day “Is this what I should be doing right now to help me achieve my goals or am I just procrastinating?”
Step 3: Starting Within
Starting within means that we need to work on ourselves if we ever want to be able to improve our exterior situation or have a positive impact on others. We can do this by living according to the following values:
- Integrity – Living your life the way you know you should. Following your own advice, being honest and treating others the way you wish to be treated.
- DG: Ask yourself before doing something “If there was a camera on me and my children and grandchildren would see it, would I do what I’m about to do?”
- Humility – Not letting your ego control your thoughts and actions. If you are in it for personal gain and fame alone, you are not living a life of Everyday Greatness.
- DG: Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on how you can help others
- Gratitude – To realize that nothing is achieved alone without the help or support from someone else.
- DG: Pick up the phone and call someone who has helped you in some way and genuinely express to them how grateful you are for their help
Step 4: Creating the Dream
Creating the dream is where the rubber starts to meet the road in terms of forming the life you wish to live. Do you have specific dreams and goals? If not, learning to live by the following values will help you get there:
- Vision – Taking time to imagine what your future will be like and using that as motivation to fuel your decisions and actions today
- DG: Create a “Vision Board” illustrating the life you hope to have and write down a list of all your goals with deadlines of when you hope to acheive them. Look at it every day!
- Innovation – Being creative is a skill that can be learned by broadening your horizons through studying varying subjects and traveling to new places and cultures
- DG: Reading magazines or articles online about things usually outside of your interests can help you think in a different way and see things from a different perspective. Also, take trips to nearby places that you haven’t been before.
- Quality – Not settling for “good enough”. Putting in the hard work and paying attention to little details that add up.
- DG: If you are prone to make mistakes, after finishing a task make sure you take the time to completely review it before calling it “done”
Step 5: Team with Others
You may be a superhuman, all star everyday greatness guru, but that won’t get you far in life if you can’t play well with others. Implementing these values will help at work, home and play:
- Respect – Showing others that you value their opinions
- DG: If someone makes a suggestion, instead of dismissing it right away stop and consider if it may actually be worth trying.
- Empathy – Truly taking the effort to understand another persons point of view
- DG: If someone on your team is lashing out or angry, they may just be having a bad day. Don’t let it get under your skin, stay calm and focus on a solution.
- Unity – Understanding that the value of teamwork is greater than the sum of each individuals effort
- DG: If you have someone on your team that you know is skilled in an area you may be lacking, don’t be afraid to go and ask them for help!
Step 6: Overcoming Adversity
Although we are in fact responsible for the majority of the outcomes in our lives there are inevitably times when the unexpected will occur and we are faced with giving up or pushing through. These values will help to overcome the adversity we face in our lives:
- Adaptability – Having a plan is important but being flexible with that plan when circumstance change is just as important
- DG: If you’re on your way home and find out a road is closed you don’t just stop and stay there all night. If you hit a road block on a task your working just look for an alternate route, even if it means backtracking a bit.
- Magnanimity – The ability to let the problems and insults we face roll off our skin and not disturb our inner peace of mind
- DG: When someone insults us personally or professionally, take whatever truth in the criticism there may be and act on it, then move on and do not dwell.
- Perseverance – Never give up!
- DG: We often times underestimate the time and amount of effort a goal will take to achieve. Instead of giving up or lowering the mark, give yourself more time and/or increase your efforts.
Step 7: Blending the Pieces
In order to live a life of Everyday Greatness we must be able to blend all of the pieces together in a way that will last a lifetime. Life is a long distance marathon, not a sprint. The following values will help build our endurance:
- Balance – Finding the right combination of work and play
- DG: This is different for each individual depending on what your goals and dreams are.
- Simplicity – Preventing yourself form over-complicating things to the point of inaction
- DG: If something seems too complicated to act on, try breaking it up into smaller pieces until each individual piece seems like a manageable task.
- Renewal – Taking the time to disconnect and focus on yourself
- DG: If you are starting to feel burnt out make sure you stop and step back. Pushing on with an empty tank will hurt your performance.
There you have it! All you need to know to live a life of Everyday Greatness! Now the hard part, actually doing it.
My advice to you is to determine 2 or 3 of these that you know you could use the most work on and focus on them every day for a few weeks or as long as it takes until you start to see improvements. Then move on to others until you become a well oiled living machine!