The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Final Part

7 habits

In the previous issue we discussed your personal bank account (PBA) of deeds and how three different types of small deposits can eventually enrich you in the long run. Now we will discuss the remaining three ways of meaningful deposits to build your (PBA). Similarly an opposite action would end up in withdrawal from your (PBA).

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Be honest with yourself and others

Honesty begins with self. When ever we lie or cheat it makes us unsure of ourselves. It casts a heavy shadow on our heart and is an immediate withdrawal from our (PBA). As they say you can’t do wrong and feel right.

Have you been fake or dishonest with your parents, friends or at work? We know that we all have a tendency to impress others even if we have to act phony. Next time be yourself and you will feel a lot more wholesome. It takes strength and courage to be honest with yourself as well as others.

Sean Covey shares a story of a teenager called Jeff. Jeff was smarter in mathematics than his other friends. He came up with an idea to start charging them for every test he helped them cheat on. Initially, he felt great making money and helping his friends get good grades. Later, he realized he hadn’t really been helping them at all. If they didn’t learn now, it would just get tougher down the road for them. So he quit his game and took a brave stand by being honest with himself and his friends. It was hard but it was the right choice, which served everyone’s best interests.

Honesty may not be a trend anymore. You will find people get ahead in life by cheating and lying. But remember – every act of honesty is a deposit into your (PBA) and will build strength eventually, because your heart will be pure.

You may begin by not exaggerating or embellishing your point of views. Or next time when your parents ask you to tell them about something, just factually narrate the complete story without misleading them or deliberately leaving out some information.

Renew yourself

We all think that only medicines and magazine subscriptions expire. Wrong! As human beings, we also sometimes feel low and need a place of refuge to re-energize our mind, body and soul. If we do not learn to relax and renew ourselves occasionally, we tend to lose the zest for life.

How you can do it depends on your daily routine. Some people like to relax by writing in a journal, painting, playing a sport, going to the gym, etc. Some like to retreat to a quiet place for some quiet thinking in their homes, such as in their bedrooms, terrace or the basement. Some like to head outdoors to a favourite spot, such as a park, garden, river-side, etc.

I know a teenager, who used to keep hitting his tennis ball on a particular wall to relieve tension and after half an hour of playing ball, he felt de-stressed and renewed.

Of course, if you can build a habit of listening to a soothing Qirat by one of your favourite Qaris, it works like watering a wilted flower. When done, you’re in full bloom!

So next time you end up in an argument with your parents or friends or are simply worried about something try to slip in to your favourite place of refuge and re-collect your thoughts and emotions. Once you have renewed yourself, you will feel much better, Insha’Allah. And that will work as a deposit in your (PBA)!

Decide on a fun activity and do it today. If you feel lethargic go out for a walk or run.

Let your talents bloom

Allah (swt) has gifted talents to every single human being on this Earth. Even people with certain disorders such as Dyslexia or Autism are greatly gifted and intelligent. The key is to tap into your talents and draw on the best. Try figuring out what pleases you most and what skill you are inspired to polish?

And if you haven’t figured out fantastic ways to make deposits into your (PBA) yet, try to find special interest and then develop it. Nothing is more rewarding. And we don’t need to be stereo-typical and traditional about it. Why just think of being a writer or an athlete? You can be good at anything and carve a niche for yourself.

Talents come in different packages. They are all about self-expression. One can be a great collector of leaves, exhibit leadership skills, be a patient listener to others, write backwards, etc. Don’t ever think that it sounds silly or small. People, who have believed in their ideas and pursued their dreams, are the ones who have ever achieved anything. Most importantly they found joy and an identity for themselves. Stuff they did or made equally benefited others, too.

Make a list of talents you want to develop this year and how to achieve them. Secondly, list the name of people you admire the most for their talents and maybe try finding out how they got there!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 8

July 11- 7 habits

The Personal Bank Account

You might be thinking that we are talking of your bank balance or your jewels in the locker. Actually, we are discussing something even more priceless and invaluable. We will be looking at some ways to build self-confidence and a strong character that will help you embrace the first three habits of highly effective teens, as suggested by Sean Covey.

Just as you can deposit and withdraw from your personal bank account (PBA), you can similarly do so with the stuff you think about, act upon or do to others – they, too, impact your PBA. For instance, when you honour a commitment or keep a promise, it becomes an instant deposit into your PBA. Why? Because it makes you feel good inside and happy outside. It boosts your self-esteem and you feel in control of your life. On the contrary, if you break a promise or stand someone up, it’s a withdrawal because you feel disappointed. Later, you try to defend your wrong behaviour through excuses and justifications that nag you from the inside and make you miserable on the outside.

So, are you ready to evaluate your PBA, just to check, if you are loaded or bankrupt? Following are some signs, according to Sean Covey, of both conditions (sounds like a disease). Take the evaluation:

Signs of a poor PBA

  • You cave in easily to peer pressure.
  • You wrestle with feelings of depression and inferiority.
  • You’re overly concerned about what others think of you.
  • You act arrogantly to hide your insecurities.
  • You self-destruct by getting heavily into drugs, pornography, vandalism, etc.
  • You get jealous easily, especially when someone close to you succeeds.

Signs of a healthy PBA

  • You stand up for yourself and resist peer pressure.
  • You’re not overly concerned about being popular.
  • You see life as a generally positive experience.
  • You trust yourself.
  • You are goal-driven.
  • You are happy for the successes of others.

If your current personal bank account is low, don’t worry about it. Just start making small deposits right away. This will eventually win back your confidence. Small deposits over a period of time will make you rich.

Following is a list of some initial yet meaningful deposits you can make to build your PBA. Similarly, an opposite action would end up in a withdrawal from your PBA:

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Keep promises made to yourself

Have you been friends with people who say one thing and do just the opposite? They promise to pick you up for a party at such-and-such a time but never show up. How humiliating it is to deal with people who take their promises so lightly and habitually break them! You end up mistrusting them.

The same goes for commitments you make to yourself. I will finish my homework as soon as I get home. I will stick to my diet. And when you break a promise to yourself, you stop trusting yourself.

Start making small deposits into your PBA by keeping small promises to yourself, such as: I will eat healthy food for lunch; I will not answer my cell phone until I have offered my prayers, etc. You can make bigger deposits into your PBA once your self-trust is built and you feel more in control of your life. Then, ignoring a nagging brother or sister or sharing with them will be possible, too. These and similar bigger deposits will make you emotionally richer.

Initiate little acts of kindness for others

Psychiatrists state that if you ever feel depressed, try to do something for others. It will lift you up, maybe because you will focus outwards rather than inwards. When you serve someone else, it generates a natural feeling of goodness inside, as is the law of Allah (swt).

Sean Covey shares a personal example. Once, while travelling, he was upgraded to first class. He was very excited at the prospects of wide seats, edible food, courteous stewardesses, etc. Among the passengers, he noticed a lady travelling alone with a wailing baby. She was clearly in distress.

After battling inside his head for some time, Sean decided to swap his ticket with hers. She was quite surprised at his kind gesture and thanked him profusely. Throughout the flight, Sean kept on thinking how the baby and mother were doing. Unable to curb his curiosity, he went up to the first class just to check on them. The sight brought a smile to his face, and he immediately knew that he had made the right decision. The baby was warmly snuggled up to his mother, and they were both in peaceful slumber. Their peace meant a great deposit for Sean. Kindness always brings comfort that selfishness cannot.

Handle yourself gently

Rita Mae Brown once said: “One of the keys to happiness is having a bad memory.” Some of us are very self-critical. We expect perfection from ourselves; thus, when we make mistakes, we are least forgiving and most uptight.

Especially if we are late bloomers, we should not expect perfection the very next morning after making new attempts to improve. We should be patient with ourselves and give ourselves time to grow. We should also learn to laugh at our mistakes and not repeat them.

Sean Covey shares another example. A ship at sea for many years picks up thousands of barnacles that attach themselves to the bottom of the ship and eventually weigh it down, becoming a threat to its safety. Such a ship ultimately needs its barnacles removed, and the least expensive and easiest way is for the ship to harbour in a freshwater port, free of salt water. Soon the barnacles become loose and fall off. The ship is able to return to sea, free of its burden.

Are you carrying barnacles in the form of mistakes, regrets and pain from the past? Perhaps you need to let yourself soak around in fresh water to rid yourself of the barnacles, too. Letting go of your burden may just be the deposit you need.

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues we will discuss the remaining three ways to deposit into your emotional bank account and build self-esteem. Be on the lookout…

The 7 habits of highly effective teenagers – Part 7

Apr 11 - 7 habits

The Man/Woman in the Mirror

Sounds like the title of a novel, doesn’t it? Well here’s what it means:

Sean Covey states: “Before you’ll ever win in the public arena of life, you must first win private battles with yourself. All change begins with you.”

He shares an interesting incident from his life. Sean wanted to be a quarterback footballer. He had been playing in high school and accordingly chose a university that could help him realize his dreams.

Once Sean stepped on the field, he didn’t do as well as he wanted to, and his coach was not pleased with his performance. He was clearly told that if he didn’t improve, he would be removed from the team.

He had to make a hard decision: either to quit football or triple his efforts and commitment. Over the next few weeks, Sean waged a war inside his head, coming face to face with his fears and self-doubts. He soon understood that he was scared of competing, being in the limelight and, perhaps, of trying and failing. That was holding him back from giving his best. In other words it was like: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Sean decided to brace himself for his one supreme effort: to stretch his full capacity and stand his full stature. He stopped holding back and gave his best. He didn’t know if he would be the number one, but at least he would have done his very best.

Once he made up his mind and set his heart to it, he managed to change a lot. He began to show improvements, and his coach noticed it. He led his team to victory at a national football event. It didn’t happen in a day but over weeks.

This in no way means that he stopped being scared or wasn’t nervous before the final game. Everyone congratulated him for his victory. Sean knew that he hadn’t won on the football field that day. He had triumphed several months back, when he decided to look his fears in the eye. Back then, there was no applause or reward at the victory he had achieved in the privacy of his mind. He believed in Siedah Garret and Glen Ballard’s statements: “I’m starting with the man/woman in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Inside Out

Have you ever met anyone who has graduated from university before being enrolled in the kindergarten? If you have, I would like to meet that person, too!

Generally speaking, we crawl before we learn to walk. We master arithmetic before we learn algebra. We fix OURSELVES before we fix others. If you want to change your life, the point to begin at is yourself and not your parents, teachers, friends, fiancé, etc.

You have absolute control over your thoughts, actions and feelings. But you cannot control the others with the same power. This is also termed as Tazkiya-e-Nafs or self accountability, ownership and taking responsibility. Heavy stuff, huh?

A bishop once wrote the following about learning from his life:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world;

As I grew older and wiser, I realized the world would not change.

And I decided to shorten my sights somewhat and change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.

As I entered my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I sought to change only my family, those closest to me, but, alas, they would have none of it.

And now here I lie on my death bed and realize (perhaps for the first time) that if only I’d changed myself first, then by example I might have influenced my family, and with their encouragement and support, I might have bettered my country, and who knows – I might have changed the world.”

You can almost taste the regret and helplessness this poor man feels. It’s fortunate for you that you are still young and eager. Allah (swt) has still given you a chance. Leap forward and embrace the change. Change is always inside out – not outside in. Remember, it begins with you!

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues, we will talk about what we have termed as one’s ‘personal bank account’, from where the first three habits of highly effective teenagers stem from. They are all about personal victory and manageable tips to build self-confidence. Be on the lookout!

The 7 habits of highly effective teenagers! (Part 2)

Jan 11 - 7 habits teenagers

Sean Covey smartly proves how intelligent people of his time, who are also supposedly experts in their fields, have sounded ridiculous with the passage of time and new discoveries. Some statements are given below:

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

(Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977)

“Man will never reach the Moon, regardless of all future scientific advances.”

(Dr Lee De Forest, inventor of the Audion tube and father of radio, 1967)

“For the majority of the people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect.”

(Dr. Ian G. Macdonald, L.A. surgeon, 1969)

Likewise, teenagers make similar statements:

“I know I can’t go to the university. I just don’t have the brains…”

“It’s useless talking to my parents. They just don’t seem to understand me!”

“Me? Lose weight? It’s like thinking of snow in mid June in Karachi!”


Don’t you think that the above two lists have much in common? First, they are the perceptions of the people who have made these statements. Second, time has proven that these statements are either incomplete or inaccurate.

Paradigms, pronounced as ‘pair-a-dimes’, is another word for perceptions. Paradigms mainly refer to the way you look at something, your belief, your point of view or your frame of reference. It is also worthy to note that if our paradigms are incorrect about something they can become our limitations to progress. We focus on them so much that it becomes next to impossible to explore other possibilities.

Consider the teenager, who thinks it isn’t worth trying for higher education, because he/she is not smart enough. Or the one, who believes he/she can never have a healthy communication with his/her parents. What is likely to happen? Their perceptions will always hold them back from trying otherwise, because they have made up their minds to behave only in one manner.

Sean Covey explains: “Paradigms are like glasses. When you have incomplete paradigms about yourself or life in general, it’s like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription. That lens affects how you see everything else. As a result, what you see is what you get.”

If you believe you are ugly, that very belief will make you ugly. If you believe that everybody hates you, you will look for evidence to support your belief and you will remain a victim in your eyes. On the other hand, if you believe you are smart, this belief will cast a rosy hue on everything you do.

You can understand it better by thinking that you took a trip to the beautiful valleys and mountains of North Pakistan. Upon reaching there, you realized that it was hardly worth it, because all you could see was smog and haze. You began to think that all the praises tourists sang about the places were nothing but a pack of lies. When you came home, you discovered that your eyesight needed to be checked. That’s when the doctor told you, how bad your eyesight had become and that you had been seeing through the wrong lenses all along. When you finally got your lenses fixed, you realized how you could see the finest details of everything. And finally it dawned on you that you had missed much of the beauty of life, because you were looking through the wrong lenses!

When we discuss the paradigms of life, think about your own life – what does it centre around and how does it impact you?

So what do you think of yourself?

Paradigms of self

Sean Covey shared the story about the son of King Louis XVI of France. When King Louis had been dethroned and imprisoned, his enemies decided to frame his young son, who was heir to the throne. They took him to a far away community and exposed him for six months to all sorts of moral degradation, dishonour and distrust. But not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Giving up their intensive temptations, they finally asked him, why did he not fall for the pleasures and lusts offered to him? He replied, because he was destined to be a king!

Prince Louis held on to the paradigm of himself so tightly that nothing could shake him. This is the most pertinent question you should ask yourself: are my paradigms of myself helping or hindering me?

Sometimes our poor self-image stops us from even trying to be a success. I remember having a team member in my organization, who was just not bothered about what others thought of her. When they talked behind her back, she didn’t seem to care. When they made fun of her before her, she simply laughed along. But she never stopped for a second to feel self-pity for herself. As a result, in spite of an average education and inter-personal skills, she achieved much at work – simply because she realized her true worth and focused on her goals.

Similarly, another shy girl, who could not get up to utter one sentence before class without stuttering, was once asked to give a presentation before the entire faculty members gathering. You could very well imagine what her plight must have been coming face to face with her greatest fears and low self-image. She tried to wiggle out of the situation but just couldn’t manage to. At last, she made great efforts to survive the presentation. And she did. She didn’t score spectacular marks or anything, but that day was one of the most memorable days of her life, mainly because she was able to overcome the greatest fears she had about herself. She got up and did it!

If you feel that you need to re-adjust your paradigm about yourself, the first step should be to spend time together with someone who believes in you, someone who can build you up, someone who can clean your glasses for you and tell you: “Of course, you can do it! You should absolutely enter that contest!”

Don’t be afraid to lean on this person for nourishment and advice. Try to see yourself the way he/she sees you. Every successful person has had someone who truly believed in him/her. It could be your parents, or one of them, a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a grandparent, a guardian, an uncle or an aunt. It only takes one person and it doesn’t really matter who it is.

If you feel you don’t have anyone in particular to lean on, pay special attention to part three that will give you tips on building your self-image.

What are habits?

They are completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to your habits and they will be able to do them quickly and correctly.

So form them wisely!