The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 6

Jan 11 - 7 habits teenagers

Principle-Centred – The Real Thing

In the past issues, we have discussed numerous centres that have time and again failed. One wonders whether there is a centre that actually works. Yes there is! It is being principle-centered. I know it sounds boring, but here is another way of looking at it.

We are all aware of the effects of gravity. Throw a ball up and it comes down. It’s a natural law or principle. This is one of the many principles that rule the physical world. Also, there are other principles that govern the human world.

What are principles?

  • Principles aren’t religious.
  • They aren’t Pakistani or Somali.
  • They aren’t mine or yours.
  • They aren’t up for discussion.
  • They apply equally to everyone – rich or poor, king or peasant, male or female.
  • They can’t be bought or sold.
  • If you live by them, you will excel.
  • If you break them, you will fail.

A few examples of principles are: love, honesty, service, respect, gratitude, hard work, loyalty, responsibility, integrity, justice and moderation. If anyone knows our Prophet (sa) well, he would think that Sean Covey was actually describing the Prophet’s (sa) way of life.

Consider just one of the examples of the aforementioned principles, like hard work. The principle of hard work never fails. As long as you have paid the price by investing time and effort into something, you will eventually succeed. Someone might whiz past you without putting any or much effort but, in the long run, as they say: “you can fool someone all the time but you can’t fool everyone all the time”. At some stage in life, incompetent people, who might have acquired status or recognition wrongfully, are exposed. This is mainly because they are neither trained nor experienced to deal with the challenges required for a particular job.

A very apt example could be of politicians. Someone, who has studied commerce, is handed over a ministry of science and technology. How will he fare? It could be anyone’s guess. However, if someone has studied and excelled in his/her field of education by hard work, he/she is likely to meet the challenges posed by his/her career, because he/she has paid the price to excel in that particular field.

Principles Never Fail

It takes faith to live by principles. In today’s age of rampant evil and quick fix solutions, one might feel like a sucker watching others get ahead in life by manipulation and corruption. What we don’t see is the doomed end of such people who break away from principles.

Cecil B. DeMille, the director of movie “The Ten Commandments”, stated: “It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law.”

You will see that it eventually catches up to every wrong-doer, and the faker ultimately pays a penalty for breaking principles. How many liars and frauds do you know, who have earned anyone’s love, respect and friendship? And what kind of a life are they leading, in spite of having wealth and success? A guilty conscience seldom lets anyone live in peace.

What can principles do for you? According to Sean Covey, the benefits of principles are:

  • They will never talk behind your back.
  • They will never desert you.
  • They don’t suffer career-ending injuries.
  • They don’t have favourites based on gender, wealth or looks.

“A principle-centered life is simply the most stable, immovable, unshakable foundation you can build upon, and we all need one of those.”

Decide today to make principles your life-centre or paradigm. Whenever you land in a fix, ask yourself which principle will fit the key-hole? If you are feeling worn out and beaten up, maybe you need to apply the principle of balance. If you find people suspecting you, maybe it is the principle of honesty that will resolve the issue. In the following story by Walter MacPeek, we find the principle of loyalty being the driving force:

‘Two brothers, who were French soldiers in the same company, fought against the Germans. One of them was shot, while the other escaped. The one who was sound requested his commanding officer to go back and get his wounded brother. The officer politely explained that his brother was probably dead and that there was no point risking his own life.

After much pleading, the soldier was granted permission to bring back his wounded brother. When he did bring him back safely, he died just then. The commander said: ‘I told you that you were going to get nothing out of this. Your brother just died anyway.’ The soldier replied: ‘No sir, you are wrong. I got what I wanted. When I went back for him and picked him up in my arms, he said: ‘I knew you would come back for me.’ I did what was expected of me.’

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues, we will find out what each of the seven habits are connected and what powers these habits have. Be on the look-out.

What are habits?

Take them, train them, and be firm with them;

Your habits will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with them and they will destroy you.

So form them wisely!