Personal Growth in the Book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
For my lst Quarter Independent Reading Project, I chose to read the personal growth book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. The book focuses upon 7 habits that contribute to the personal growth of individuals, in both the personal and professional setting. Through Covey’s use of the rhetorical triangle by means of establishment of his own credibility and personal stories through Ethos and Pathos along with an uplifting tone created through carefully selected diction he establishes a level of trust that clearly gets his points across to the reader. Covey begins the first chapter of his book by establishing his credibility as a writer for this particular topic. By doing so he is able to build up his own ethos in order to show the reader his background in this field and why his opinions can be taken seriously. He begins by saying. “In more than 25 years of working in business, university, and marriage and family settings”.
Through this Covey not only establishes his professional experience but also his experience as a husband and a father. This addition of his experience as a family man alludes to how he plans on not only covering changes in the professional setting but also personal. He also reveals how these two very different aspects of life are ultimately connected. As the first paragraph goes on he says,”| have come in contact with many individuals who have achieved an incredible degree of outward success. but have found themselves struggling with and inner hunger. a deep need for personal congruency and effectiveness”. Through this he establishes a second reason why he is credible. He reveals to the reader that through his own experience and knowledge of other people he has found what they often lack; the ability to achieve an inner drive to be a more effective person. No matter how successful a person becomes there will always be an inner drive for improvement. As the book continues Covey reveals 7 habits he has established to create a more effective person. Often he looks to enhance these point by using personal examples from his own life.
To further establish the points he is making Covey uses the rhetorical triangle yet again. This time in the form of pathos. By using pathos he is able to make a personal connection to his readers through stories of his own experiences in establishing the 7 habits in his own life. In doing so he is able to be more effective in getting his point across to different audiences. A perfect example of this came in a section titled “What It Takes to Say No”. This section is concerned with saying “yes” to priorities first while simultaneously being able to say “no” to less important matters. To further enhance this point Covey gives a personal example involving his wife. He begins by telling the reader that his wife had once taken on a role as a “chairman of a committee in a community endeavor”.
She didn‘t particularly want to join due to a number of other activities she was involved with but eventually was pressured into it. She later invited another close friend to join who graciously declined by saying, “For a number of reasons, [won’t be participating myself, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your invitation”. This story helps apply his message for this section to a real event. His wife made a poor decision by joining this committee when she had other more important priorities to deal with. By saying yes she hindered her ability to be a more effective individual. Oppositely her friend politely declined when asked to join. By saying no she was able to concentrate more on her priorities in order to make her a more effective individual.
The third element Covey uses to get his points across is his use of diction to motivate his readers. Throughout “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Covey constantly uses diction to enhance his arguments. He does this by using positive words and statements to create a tone that is able to motivate his readers to apply the 7 Habits to their daily lives. In a section concerned with the consequences of mistakes Covey writes the. ”proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it”. Instead of putting blame on those who fail he instead describes it as an experience necessary to grow. By “correcting” these mistakes people can “learn”.
He further expresses this in the next line in saying, “This literally turns a failure into a success”. As opposed to looking at a mistake as a failure it ultimately becomes a success as it allows us to grow as individuals. This sense of honesty and positive thinking helps him to clearly express such complicated ideas in a way that is more achievable for his readers. He looks to connect on a more personal and accepting way. In doing so the reader is more likely to apply the ideas that they’ve learned creating a success for both Covey and the individual.