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First of all, welcome to my new blog readers – thank you for your interest, it makes blogging a more meaningful experience. Please ensure that you get at least as far as Paragraph 3 in this blog.

I have, as part of my Mission-oriented goals, chosen to spread the word about the 7 Habits and Three Resolutions, and as part of that project I have, over the past 12 months, serialised summaries of some of Stephen Covey’s lesser known works that were, in the main, written in his capacity as a church leader and for that specific audience. A lot of readers are put off when I identify that motive but with a singular exception the religious ‘element’ is easy to overlook, if you wish.

In my latest musings on his book ‘6 Events’ I chose to re-interpret these writings, seeking to remove the references to ‘God’ and instead using the word ‘Principles’ to see what difference it made, and the answer was – not a lot. So whether or not you are religiously spiritual there is a lot to be gained by perusing these works – particularly because some of them expand on that with which Covey readers may be familiar.

As I completed my last summary I was taken by a quote from one of his peers, and the quote was “Courage is the quality of every virtue acting at its highest testing point.”

This is a very profound statement, and if you apply it to the first of the Three Resolutions it is even more pertinent. My interpretation is that we demonstrate courage when we live in integrity with our beliefs at the point when it is hardest to do so. In other words, when life is a breeze and we are congruent we are nothing special, but when we are challenged to the utmost, living with integrity is the bravest thing we can do.

Self-discipline and self-denial are easy to execute when you are doing something you love, but when (as it is for many) that self-discipline or self-denial involves not doing something you love, or doing something you detest – that’s when courage is called for. I am conscious, always, that reminding myself to be courageous is often forgotten in the moment of choice.

Another ‘new’ Covey nugget I discovered yesterday was this: Covey readers will be familiar with his illustration of how changing habits is like a rocket launch. The rocket has to overcome the pull of gravity as it leaves the earth, but as it progresses its journey becomes easier. This metaphor shows how the early work in overcoming a bad habit is rewarded as the effort to change is lessened because, as Emerson put it, our capacity to ‘do’ it improves.

In ‘6 Events’ he went further, now describing the ‘gravity’ as being our own restraining forces, but then adding that the second force against the rocket – the atmosphere itself – represents the restraining forces of our environment and the people in it.

Do your environment and the people around you support your efforts to improve – or do they get in the way?