Becoming an Effective Person

Recently I read a very popular book about personal growth: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Just like most books in this genre, the book had nothing new or revolutionary, but I do think Stephen explained it really well and gave some “easy” steps to attain all our goals. Easy to remember, but difficult to follow through with, which is still better than difficult to remember and follow through!

The book discusses a concept I’ve been thinking about pretty often these days. Two people can look at the same thing but see different things. Even when two people think they’re agreeing, they might not be and vice versa.

Check out the Habits below to learn a little more:


  1. Be proactivecirclesStephen talks about the concept of the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. Essentially everything that affects you is in your Circle of Concern, but within that circle is a smaller circle that is full of things you can actually influence: the Circle of Influence. The idea is that reactive people tend to focus on everything of concern instead of taking action in the bubble we actually have an influence on.
  2. Begin with the end in mind
    It is hard to drive to your location if you don’t even know what to type into the GPS. Envision your goals and dreams. He argues that individuals, families and organizations should all have a Mission Statement (essentially the address to type into the GPS that is your life). You can check mine out towards the end of this post. 🙂
  3. Put first things firstquadrants
    A lot of times we tend to put “Important and Urgent” and “Not Important and Urgent” as our top priorities simply because they’re urgent. But as the names suggest, we should focus on “Important and Urgent” and “Important and not Urgent” first. Keep in mind that importance is based on your Mission Statement. Some people might mean they’ll get fired because they don’t think emails or meetings are important, but Stephen argues that if someone who is important to you asks you to do something then the task is proportionally important to you. And if part of your mission statement talks about health or well-being of you or those in your life, keeping your boss happy might keep you on the right path! The main thing I got from this habit was scheduling time for your relationships and personal growth. Once you have those “Important and not Urgent” things scheduled you will be more able to say no to things that would get in the way even if they seem important just because they’re urgent.
  4. Think win-win
    A win-lose or lose-win attitude eventually results in a lose-lose situation every time. Instead, we should push for a solution that allows all parties to win. This is not always possible, which is when we will agree to disagree and not make a deal together. Lose-win and win-lose situations are worse than parting ways for the time being. This concept is not about being a push-over, but it’s also about not stepping on people.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
    Use empathetic listening to genuinely understand a person, which will likely lead them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This does not mean that the listening can be done just with the end goal of being listened to in mind. Genuinely caring creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.
  6. Synergize
    Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals that no one could have done alone. This is not about compromise, but instead about working together to accomplish all goals and then some.
  7. Sharpen the Saw
    This last habit touches on self-care and the fact that we cannot infinitely continue Habits 1-6 unless we continually improve and reinvigorate ourselves. This is when we realize how important it is to reevaluate your Mission Statement(s) on a consistent basis, to keep up with your physical health, and stay on top of your mental health.



A concept I greatly enjoyed that Stephen spoke about was the Abundance Mentality. He coined the idea of abundance mentality, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others. This is contrasted with what we see often in the professional world: fighting over happiness and success. People seem to think that by making someone else miserable will lead to more happiness coming their way which is much the opposite. Success and happiness are both increased when shared! We strive to be able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.

I wrote my Mission Statement assuming it will stay with me for the rest of my life, but also acknowledging that I am a living, breathing being so my Mission Statement will be a living, breathing document so it may change along the way!

My overall well-being is my first priority; closely following are my connections such as family and friends.

I don’t want to just listen; I want to hear.

I don’t want to heal the people; I want to teach the people how to heal themselves.

I don’t want to just band together to save the Earth; I want to do so much that the Earth will never need saving again.

I want to share so much and so much knowledge that when I leave this Earth I wouldn’t have any more to give if I stayed a second longer.

Do y’all have a mission statement? If so, what’s in it?

Books Worth Reading – Early 2018

These are the books I’ve read and enjoyed in the first three months of 2018. The majority of these books were for my American History or German Literature course, but they were enjoyable enough to share with you all!

I’ve been involved in classes, student organizations, activism, tutoring, and research so I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like to! Hoping to have a longer list for the next few months.



Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

simone bilesI was a gymnast for the majority of my life. It taught me so much from dedication to flexibility.

Simone Biles covers that and so much more. Her background is just as interesting as her experience in the Olympic Village!

Simone’s entrance into the gymnastics world started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but no one could’ve known that 19 medals were in store for her. In this book, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Her attitude along the way really inspired me to let negative comments roll off my back and put my dreams into action!

Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

steinbeckReading this really humanized the people on all sides of WWII. War is not something I understand as I am nonviolent in nature, but through reading this book, I’ve come to understand how people can be swept up in war.

This book is a collection of articles written by John Steinbeck while he was a special war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune from June to December 1943. Steinbeck’s articles include descriptions of life on a troop transporter, a description of how homesick US soldiers tried and failed to grow their native vegetables in the English gardens, and so many other narratives that would have been lost without Steinbeck.

Despite being nonfiction, this book reveals Steinbeck’s way of storytelling. He did not focus on individuals, but I still felt connected to the characters people. This is one of his less well-known works, but not for good reason! I definitely recommend reading this!

Semicolon Project: Your Story Isn’t Over

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 9.43.30 AM

Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them (you can see mine in the photo!).

Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages and all backgrounds talking about what they have survived. This book represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who are affected by mental illness. The stories in the book break stereotypes while also not excluding those who fit into the stereotypes, which is unusual for a campaign to be able to combine those two aspects.

Learn more about the project at!

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown’s classic  account of the systematic destruction of the Native American during the second half of the nineteenth century. As pointed out in the book, it is rare to hear the other side of the story that did not make it into the history books of my childhood. The information comes from council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions. The point of view is not limited to one tribe, but instead covers quite a few in depth and dozens are mentioned in the book.

Just as with Once There Was a War and Project Semicolon, this book shines light on narratives that would otherwise be lost.

I was very glad this was required reading in my American history course this year and think anyone learning about or interested in the western frontier in American history should read this.



I have been slacking on my fiction reading recently. Nonfiction is definitely what I am drawn to more, but I love fiction too!

The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt


The Physicists tells of the world’s greatest physicist, Johann Wilhelm Möbius, in a madhouse, haunted by recurring visions of King Solomon. He is kept company by two other equally deluded scientists: one who thinks he is Einstein, the other who believes he is Newton. The hunchbacked Doctor Mathilde von Zahnd is there psychiatrist, but she might be just as crazy as (if not more than) the rest of them.

This is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, but it did effectively show me not to trust anything I read or hear. (Not that the current American government has not taught me that already.)

When you think you know what is about to happen, you don’t.

Did some reading over spring break with my friend Marissa as seen in the picture at the top! Check out her blog!

Let me know if you read or have read these books and what you think! Let me know if you guys have any books I should check out!