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Free course teaches seven habits common to effective teens

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

When author Stephen Covey released his number one best seller, the "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," its impact propelled many working adults to new heights of personal success and satisfaction.

Mr. Covey followed with other books, including "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens" and the Air Force recently adopted it as the workbook of a program being implemented at its bases to help teach teens the secrets of being effective in their life pursuits.

MacDill will be holding its second session of the free course tomorrow, June 30, at the Base Chapel. The first course was held in February and 13 teens in the eligible age group, 13 to 18, attended. Tomorrow’s was timed to help teens get on a winning track before the new school year.

Margaret Corder and Shirley Williams, training and curriculum specialists with the MacDill Child Development and Youth centers, will be presenting the program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They like to see willing attendees, but they also don't mind a little coaxing from parents who enroll their kids for their own good, said Mrs. Corder.

The philosophy essentially is the same as that put forward in the groundbreaking book for adults, she said. The focus is on character and the characteristics of highly effective people, foremost of which is personal responsibility for how one reacts and deals with what life may throw at them.

Since character is a hard thing to change, the process can be difficult and take time, but the rewards are many, she said. Fortunately, being from Air Force families, most teens at MacDill already have a "good foundation" and generally are well "polished" and disciplined in the way they manage their lives, she noted. That helps get things going in the right direction.

Mrs. Corder said the primary obstacle most teens face is overcoming bad habits, many of those stemming from failures to prioritize. A student who gets home from school and opts to get on the phone with friends before doing homework is on his way to making life more difficult by pushing back the important for the more trivial.

Mrs. Corder and Williams both attended training from a Covey associate at Scott Air Force Base before being certified to teach the course. Had such a program been around when she were younger, it would have been a big plus for her, said Mrs. Corder.

"I would have been able to use this information in my life and would have been able to cope and achieve much better and sooner," she said. "Once you are an adult, it is much harder to break old habits but when you are young you have a lot better chance to get on the right track sooner."

While the course outlines all seven aspects of success and effectiveness, Mrs. Corder said it isn't unusual for a teen to only to apply one or two at a time.

While there is much to Mr. Covey's concept and how to implement it, the seven habits he outlines start with being proactive rather than reactive. From there he encourages having a plan for where you want to go and to prioritize tasks. Habit four is to be positive and look for win-win solutions in personal or working relationships. Habit five emphasizes listening to others before attempting to have others understand you, followed by applying synergy in working with others toward mutual or respective goals. Finally, taking time to tending to your emotional and spiritual dimensions, physical and mental conditioning to be able to execute effectively.

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