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This Iconic Self-Help Book Proves That Spirituality Has A Place In The Business World

By: for The Huffington Post on April 11, 2014
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Stephen R. Covey (1932 - 2012)

With our notions of success being so often defined by the two metrics of money and power alone, it's no surprise that stress and burnout are rampant in the corporate world. But what if a leading business expert came along and told us there was another way -- that spirituality and self-renewal play critical roles in helping us reach our highest potential?

That's exactly what Stephen R. Covey did with his iconic 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the best-selling nonfiction business books of all time, it highlights personal renewal and spiritual connection as essential to achieving one's greatest potential. And twenty five years after its initial publication, the lessons of the book still ring true -- perhaps carrying even greater potency in our increasingly fast-paced world.

Covey's first three habits deal with what he calls "private victories": Be proactive; begin with the end in mind; and put first things first. Habits 4-6 are "public victories": think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; and synergize. But it's the seventh habit, self-renewal, that really stands apart from and above the more conventional language of the business world.

'Sharpening the saw' is a metaphor Covey uses for renewing oneself. Only a sharpened saw will efficiently cut down a tree, he explains, as only a rested and renewed spirit has the strength to pursue real transformation. The German novelist Hermann Hesse wrote, “Whether you and I and a few others will renew the world someday remains to be seen. But within ourselves we must renew it each day, otherwise we just aren't serious. Don't forget that!”

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