The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with Diabetes

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By: Linda von Wartburg

Dr. Stephen Covey is a mesmerizing lifestyle guru who hasrevolutionized business management with his seven principles ofliving life effectively. When his wife was diagnosed with type 2diabetes, he was shocked to learn that four out of five people don'tknow how to manage their diabetes.

And he realized that his sevenattitudes could help those people gain control of their lives.

Together with Bayer Diabetes Care and the American Association ofDiabetes Educators (AADE), he has created a booklet melding hisseven management principles with the AADE's seven self-carebehaviors. It's a powerful little tome that aims to teach people tobegin with global principles of effective living and then use thoseprinciples to guide their responses to diabetes.

The first principle, "Be Proactive," teaches us that although wehave no control over what life brings us, our response to thosecircumstances is entirely within our control. It involves being"response-able," and is the opposite of being reactive, which leadsto a passive resignation and a demoralizing sense of powerlessness.In exercising this habit, you choose to respond to diabetesproactively and take the actions that will benefit your health.

The second habit, "Begin With the End in Mind," means that we needto articulate our ultimate purpose and then set goals that will leadto its achievement. Making decisions in harmony with our values, wecan take small steps that, together, will take us toward the endthat we envision.

The third principle, "First Things First," tells us to focus onwhat's really important, not just urgent superficialities that donot further our mission. Keeping our vision in mind, we can decideon whatever aspect of our self-care is most important and thenchoose to take care of it first.

Habit Four, "Think Win-Win," is an interpersonal principle. It'sabout creating the positive energy of cooperation that helps us workeffectively with our medical team and our loved ones.

Habit Five, "Seek First to Understand," transforms the process ofdiscussion by teaching us to really listen to others, allowing us tounderstand and then be understood by our healthcare team and ourfamily of support.

The sixth habit, "Synergize," encourages finding a solution that isgreater than the sum of the parts, a solution that flows fromunderstanding and is win-win. It helps us build relationships withothers that lead to progress as an effective diabetes self-manager.

And the seventh habit, "Sharpen the Saw," involves sharpeningourselves, taking time to engage in activities that make us moreeffective. A habit of sharpening the saw in the physical, mental,spiritual, and social realms will lead to the realization thatdiabetes does not change our lives; rather, we change our own lives.

Dr. Covey says that by incorporating the first three habits ofself-management and personal leadership, the next three ofinterpersonal leadership, and the last habit of self-renewal, hiswife transformed her diabetes from a negative into a positive forherself and their whole family. It's all about personalresponsibility and integrity, he says. "The heart of the whole thingis finding meaning to your travails, to have some sense of purposethat drives you on. I'm going to find meaning in it, and I'm goingto use it to bless not just my life, but other people's lives."

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People With Diabetes booklet isavailable at www.diabetes7.org. It's free. The AADE sevenself-care behaviors (Healthy Eating,
 Being Active, Monitoring,Taking Medication,
 Problem Solving, Healthy Coping, and ReducingRisks) can be found at the AADE's website at http://www.diabeteseducator.org.

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