Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw – (Part 4 – It’s Me Time – The Mind) – Teens

The Mind is one of our most valuable body parts which we often take for granted. Covey says that reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. He gives a list of 20 examples on how to expand our mind on page 218 of his ‘Teens’ book.


  • To care for your brain is to sharpen the saw mentally. Make a list of skills or talents you enjoy or might like to learn. (E.g. chess)
  • What new skill can you commit to learn in the next month?
  • Interview someone you admire and would like to know more about. Ask about his or her life, challenges, successes, history, and interests. Make your own list of questions; e.g. “What made you decide to become a …?”
  • Share your interview with the class or a group of classmates. What did you learn from your interview?

Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw – (Part 3)

Sharpening the saw physically is not limited just to physical exercise. Think about the food you eat. Here’s a plan to help you sharpen your saw regarding nutrition. Answer each of the following questions, then your plan will be set and waiting for you to take action. (Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul) (Refer to p. 209)


  1. What foods did you eat last weekend that were not healthy for your body?
  2. How can you change your eating habits?
  3. Now, create a plan that will help you focus on good nutritional habits.

Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw – Teens (part 2)

The previous lesson on Habit 7, yesterday was about you understanding that Sharpen the Saw means continual self-improvement. Your activity was to make two lists, one, things you like to do to keep yourself physically sharp, and two, the things you’d like to do. In this lesson, we’d like to challenge you to choose a few items on your list and write them in the spaces under “Activity” on a chart with 3 columns. The second column is about you making a plan for when, where and how you want to do them, and the third column is about you deciding how long, the length of time you want to spend doing each activity. Once you have completed your chart, find an accountability partner, someone who you and the person partner to keep each other on task. Place your chart somewhere you will see daily as a reminder. (See page 208 – The 7 Habits of Effective Teens)


ACTIVITY.                      WHEN, WHERE, HOW.               LENGTH OF TIME

Habit 6 – Synergize – Together is Better – Happy Kids

Covey talks about how his family uses synergy every day for 15 minutes after a family meal, calling it the “15 minute program”. He says they each pitch in to clear away the meal. That’s what synergy is: valuing differences and then working together to create a better solution than what anyone could do alone. It’s when 1+1=3 or more. Covey’s story about soccer is an excellent example of synergy when the characters of the 7 Oaks gang agreed to Sophie’s idea to play the game based on each character’s unique strengths. I certainly see a benefit to teaching this habit to our students. Soccer is probably the number one sport that causes conflict on our elementary school playgrounds. Soccer seems to draw out the “bad guy” in our students even though they would all say that we should treat each other with respect.


  1. Write down 3 things that you’re really good at. Then write down 3 things someone else you know is good at. (Brother, sister, friend, classmate)
  2. Watch a sports team play a sport you like. Jot down all the ways you see “synergy” shown by the players.
  3. In pairs or 3’s, create a chart with a column for “Good Team Members” and a column of “Bad Team Members.”
  4. In groups of 3 or 4, create a plan for each of the your group members’ jobs when doing and presenting a project such as science, social studies, theatre, etc.

Challenges & Temptations

The Plum Village Children’s Manual shares a story of Buddha’s challenges and temptations when he wanted to accomplish something very important such as enlightenment and peace. Usually, whenever we want to do something that is very important in our life, we meet challenges. The story is about Mara, the bad guy, the force that pulls us away from what we want, from what we know is right. Mara is out there, but he or she is also inside of us. The ways that Mara tries to challenge us is through Distractions & Desire, Fear and Doubt. Some ways to resist the Distractions & Desire & Fear, that keep us away from what we want, is through the practice of mindfulness with 3 in-breaths and 3 out-breaths whenever each of these challenges appear. When you are distracted by Doubt, the worst weapon of them all, is to sit very still and put one hand down and touch the Earth. Put one hand on your lap, and one hand touching the Earth while breathing 3 in-breaths and 3 out-breaths. This story reminds us that the Earth is always there for us, ready to support us and help us when we have difficulty. So, anytime you feel upset, lonely, scared or confused, go to the Earth. Release your feelings onto the Earth and open yourself up to her support and healing energy.


Join both your palms and bring them to your forehead, then to your heart, in this way uniting body and mind, and then kneel down, resting our forehead on the earth (the child’s pose in yoga) with our palms turned up in a gesture of receiving, of openness, of resting, while we listen to and visualize what we want. When you hear the bell, you stand up and bow. We will touch the earth 3 times, first to Mother Earth, then to our parents, then to enjoy and appreciate who we are.

The Teacher’s Task

The teacher’s task is not to implant facts

but to place the subject

to be learned in front of the learner

and, through sympathy, emotion, imagination and patience,

to awaken in the learner

the restless drive for answers

and insights which enlarge the personal life

and give it meaning.  

Nathan M. Pusey