Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review of Everyday Greatness by Steven R. Covey

Title: Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life
Author: Steven R. Covey, compiled by David K. Hatch
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, 2006
ISBN-10: 140160241X 
ISBN-13: 978-1401602413

Sixty three of the best stories from the Reader’s Digest archives, organized into twenty one chapters which address essential components of character are what’s inside Everyday Greatness.

What was the point of resurrecting and reprinting these stories? For David K. Hatch, who pulled the collection together, it began as a search for stories and anecdotes he could use in public speaking. For Stephen R. Covey, who introduces each chapter and links the stories with insights and observations, the book’s purpose is to help the reader understand what makes a person great – not only in public but also in private life.

Chapters titled Charity, Courage, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, etc. (21 in all) explore the topic subject with three stories, a few questions (called “Reflections”), and a section of quotes, all stitched together with commentary by Covey.

The stories themselves are by a variety of authors, new and old, from Henry David Thoreau to Reba McEntire. They’re short, easy to read, interesting, and illustrate the subject under discussion more efficiently than a lecture twice their length would.

If there’s one criticism, it would be that this everyday greatness is achieved by self-effort. Any mention of God or a new life in Christ or the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is absent. And so the book presents only a partial picture of how this everyday greatness is achieved, at least for the Christian. However, each quality discussed is something the Bible and Jesus emphasized as well. The difference is in how and to what end you achieve them.

Despite that quibble, the book offers a lot to think about. There’s enough good stuff here to overwhelm. The “Afterword” section at the end of the book helps dispel the overload by listing ways the reader can begin putting the principles explored into practice.

For a book that will encourage and inspire in literally hundreds of ways (there are around 600 quotes), Everyday Greatness is recommended.

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