Wednesday, March 07, 2007

current bedtime reading

I'm reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Or, to be completely honest, re-reading, as I have also listened to it before as an audiobook. I'm currently on Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I wouldn't be re-reading T7HoHEP if I didn't think there was much wisdom in it, but it's sort of a starchy wisdom smothered in hokey gravy. Namely, for a book that trumpets the virtues of principle-centered living, the book has all these fake-o seeming anecdotes. They follow this basic dramatic structure:
1. Actor [person/organization/member-of-Covey's-family] has problem.
2. Actor tries standard expedient solution to problem, fails.
3. Actor decides to try way that uses T7HoHEP wisdom, even though it seems unlikely to work.
4. Success follows, often greater and more immediate than Actor could have anticipated.
The book is stories with that structure AgainAndAgainAndAgainAndAgain. So it was weird when I ran across a story that had this footnote (the only one in the entire book):
Some of the details of this story have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
And I thought, "Why would there be this footnote now? When various other stories seem clearly like they must involve embellishments of one sort or another, if they aren't entirely made-up..." Then I read on and the story begins:
I once had a friend who was dean of a very prestigious school. He planned and saved for years to provide his son the opportunity to attend that institution, but when the time came, the boy refused to go.
And, I thought, I wonder if he has that footnote because he was using this story and someone somewhere pointed out to him that a dean at a very prestigious school would be able to swing some kind of tuition arrangement for his child as part of the deal.


Anonymous said...

I think they tend to repeat basic examples that would be reflective in the types of people that would read that book. Keep it simple.

Lots of successfull disappointed business dads out there in the 80s when their privileged offspring decided to chuck the whole school and career route. Temporarily at least.

Probably it was a common example to the population who bought that book, and there's no incensitivized reason for including other than selling books. Interesting thought for minor authors looking to save a tuition buck or two!

Brayden said...

If the dean is from the school I'm thinking of, the son would have received free tuition anyway. So, perhaps he added that detail simply to add more weight to the story. It sounds better than "He planned and put a lot of hope in the idea of his son attending that institution..."

Anonymous said...

Remember when you gave me that book "He's Just Not That Into You" and the point of every single elaborate and seemingly unique story was the same... he's just not that into her. Brillant idea. Bad book.