The Most Common Human Challenges

The most common human challenges highlighted by Stephen R Covey in the 7 habits of highly effective people.



The Most Common Human Challenges

  • Fear and Insecurity
  • I Want It Now
  • Blame and Victimisation
  • Hopelesness
  • Lack of Life Balance
  • What’s In It For Me
  • The Hunger To Be Understood
  • Conflict and Differences

One of the most profound learnings of my life is this: if you want to achieve your highest aspirations and overcome your greatest challenges, identify and apply the principle or natural law that governs the results you seek. How we apply a principle will vary greatly and will be determined by our unique strengths, talents, and creativity, but, ultimately, success in any endeavour is always derived from acting in harmony with the principles to which the success is tied.

Many people do not think this way, at least consciously. In fact, you will increasingly find that principled solutions stand in stark contrast to the common practices and thinking of our popular culture. Allow me to illustrate this contrast with a few of the most common human challenges we face.


So many people today are gripped with a sense of fear. They fear for the future, they feel vulnerable in the workplace. They are afraid of losing their jobs and their ability to provide for their families. This vulnerability often fosters a resignation to riskless living and co-dependency with others at work and at home. Our cultures common response to this problem is to become more and more independent. “I’m going to focus on me and mine.” “I’ll do my job, do it well, and get on to my real joys off the job.” Independence is an important, even vital, value and achievement. The problem is, we live in an interdependent reality, and our most important accomplishments require interdependency skills well beyond our present abilities.


People want things and want them now. “I want money. I want a nice big house, a nice car, the biggest and best entertainment center. I want it all and I deserve it.” Though today’s “credit card” society makes it easy to “get now and pay later,” economic realities eventually set in, and we are reminded, sometimes painfully, that our purchases cannot outstrip our ongoing ability to produce.

Pretending otherwise is unsustainable. The demands of interest are unrelenting and unforgiving. Even working hard is not enough. With the dizzying rate of change in technology and increasing competition driven by the globalization of markets and technology, we must not only be educated, we must constantly re-educate and reinvent ourselves. We must develop our minds and continually sharpen and invest in the development of our competencies to avoid becoming obsolete.

At work, the bosses drive results and for good reason. Competition is fierce; survival is at stake. The need to produce today is today’s reality and represents the demands of capital, but the real mantra of success is sustainability and growth. You may be able to meet your quarterly numbers, but the real question is, are you making the necessary investment that will sustain and increase that success one, five, and ten years from now?

Our culture and Wall Street scream for results today. But the principle of balancing the need to meet today’s demands with the need to invest in the capabilities that will produce tomorrow’s success is unavoidable. The same is true of your health, your marriage, your family relationships, and your community needs.


Wherever you find a problem, you’ll usually find the finger-pointing of blame, society is addicted to playing the victim. “If only my teacher taught well… If only I hadn’t born so poor… If only I lived in a better place… If only I hadn’t inherited such a temper from my dad/mum… If only my kids weren’t so rebellious… If only we weren’t in such a declining industry… If only my wife/husband was more understanding… if only our people weren’t so lazy and without drive.” Blaming everyone and everything else for our own problems and challenges may be the norm and may provide temporary relief from the pain, but it also chain us to these very problems. Show me someone who is humble enough to accept and take responsibility for his or her circumstances and courageous enough to take whatever initiative is necessary to creatively work his or her way through or around these challenges, and I’ll show you the supreme power of choice.


The children of blame are cynicism and hopelessness. When we succumb to believing that we are victims of our circumstances and yield to the plight of determinism, we lose hope, we lose drive, and we settle into resignation and stagnation. “I am a pawn, a puppet, a cog in the wheel and can do nothing about it. Just tell me what to do.” So many bright, talented people feel this and suffer the broad range of discouragement and depression that follows. The survival response of popular culture is cynicism- “just lower your expectations of life to the point that you aren’t disappointed by anyone or anything.” The contrasting principle of growth and hope throughout history is the discovery that “I am the creative force of my life.”


Life in our cell phone society is increasingly complex, demanding, stressful, and absolutely exhausting. For all our efforts to manage our time, do more, be more, and achieve greater efficiency through the wonders of modern technology, why is it we increasingly find ourselves in the “thick of thin things” subordinating health,  family, integrity, and many of the things that matter most to our work? The problem is not our work, which is the sustaining engine of life. It’s not the complexity or change. The problem is that our modern culture says, “go in earlier, stay later, be more efficient, live with the sacrifice for now – but the truth is that balance and peace of mind are not produced by these; they follow the person who develops a clear sense of his or her highest priorities and who lives with focus and integrity toward them.


Our culture teaches us that if we want something in life, we have to “look out for number one”. It says, “Life is a game, a race, a competition and you better win it”. Schoolmates, work colleagues, even family members are seen as competitors – the more they win the less there is for you. Of course we try to appear generous and cheer for others successes, but inwardly, privately, so many of us are eating our hearts out when others achieve. Many of the great things in the history of civilization have been achieved by the independent will of a determined soul. But the greatest opportunities and boundless accomplishments of the Knowledge Worker Age are reserved for those who master the art of ‘we.’ True greatness will be achieved through the abundant mind that works selflessly – with mutual respect, for mutual benefit.


Few needs of the human heart are greater than the need to be understood- to have a voice that is heard, respected, and valued- to have influence. Most believe that the key to influence is communication- getting your point across clearly and speaking persuasively. In fact, if you think about it, don’t you find that, while others are speaking to you, instead of really listening to understand, you are often busy preparing your response? The real beginning of influence comes as others sense you are being influenced by them- when they feel understood by you- that you have listened deeply and sincerely, and that you are open. But most people are too vulnerable emotionally to listen deeply- to suspended their agenda long enough to focus on understanding before they communicate their own ideas. Our culture cries out for, even demands, understanding and influence. However, the principle of influence is governed by mutual understanding born of the commitment of at least one person to deep listening first.


People share so much in common, yet are so magnificently different. They think differently; they have different and sometimes competing values, motivations, and objectives. Conflicts naturally arise out of these differences. Society’s competitive approach to resolving the conflict and differences tends to center on “winning as much as you can.” Though much good has come from the skilful art of compromise, where both sides give on their positions until an acceptable middle point is reached, neither side ends up truly pleased. What a waste to have differences drive people to the lowest common denominator between them! What a waste to fail to unleash the principle of creative cooperation in developing solutions to problems that are better than either party’s original notion!

Excerpt from Stephen R Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People




Creating your Lifes Misson Statement

Do you often feel confused and lost in life, do you struggle to find your purpose or feel that you have no purpose, do you see everyone else succeeding and feel like you are the odd one out? Many of us have been or are going through these life phases, however, it’s what we do to get out of these confusing moments that matters. Below I have attached a mission statement worksheet by Stephen R Covey. Covey is one of my favourite authors, his works speak volumes in self-fulfilment, his books are a guide to leading a successful life, whether that’s in relationships, family life or business. I highly recommend everyone to purchase a copy of Stephen Coveys 7 habits of highly effective people. It helped me and I believe it will help others

MISSION STATEMENT WORKSHEET Adapted from Stephen Covey, First Things First, 1994

By following the suggested six steps, you will begin writing a personal mission statement that will inspire you and will provide direction and guidance for your life. Remember that a personal mission statement is as much discovery as it is creation. Don’t rush it or set rigid timetables for yourself; rather, go slowly through the process, ask yourself the right questions, and think deeply about your values and aspirations.

A meaningful personal mission statement contains three basic elements:
1. What you want to BE?
a. What character strengths you want to have?
b. What qualities you want to develop?
2. What you want to DO?
a. What you want to accomplish?
b. What contributions you want to make?
3. What you want to HAVE? What possessions, money, and so forth you wish to have? For many of us, the third list might be the longest. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that legitimate power and the highest levels of human happiness and fulfillment originate from the be’s.

Step One: Identify an Influential Person
An effective way to focus on what you want to be and do is to identify a highly influential individual in your life and to think about how this individual has contributed to your life. This person may be a parent, work associate, friend, family member, or neighbor. Answer the following questions, keeping in mind your personal goals of what you want to be and do.

Who has been one of the most influential people in my life?
Which qualities do I most admire in that person?
What qualities have I gained (or desire to gain) from that person?
Step Two: Define What You Want to BE, DO, and HAVE?
What I’d like to BE?
What I’d like to DO?
What I’d like to HAVE?

Step Three: Define Your Life Roles
You live your life in terms of roles – not in the sense of role-playing but in the sense of authentic parts you have chosen to fill. You may have roles in work, in the family, in the community, and in other areas of life. These roles become a natural framework to give order to what you want to do and be.
You may define your family role as simply “family member.” Or, you may choose to divide it into roles, such as “wife” and “mother” or “husband” and “father.” Some areas of your life, such as your profession, may involve several roles. For example, you may have one role in administration, one in marketing, one in personnel, and one in long-range planning.
Here are a few sample roles:
• Wife/Mother, Manager – New Products, Manager – Research,
Manager – Staff Development, United Way Chairperson, Friend
• Husband/Father, Salesman – Prospects,
Salesman – Financing/Administration, March of Dimes Regional Director, Friend

Roles Statements

Define up to eight life roles and then write these roles in the boxes provided. Next, project yourself forward in time and write a brief statement of how you would most like to be described in that particular role.
By identifying your life roles, you will gain perspective and balance. By writing these descriptive statements, you will begin to imagine your highest potentialities. You will also identify the core principles and values you desire to live by.

Step Four: Write a Draft of Your Personal Mission Statement
Now that you have identified your life roles and defined what you want to be and do, you are prepared to begin working on your personal mission statement.
In the following space, create a rough draft of your mission statement. Draw heavily upon the thinking you’ve done in the previous three steps. Carry this draft with you and make notes, additions, and deletions before you attempt another draft.

Step Five: Evaluate
It is important that you do not let your personal mission statement become outdated. Periodic review and evaluation can help you keep in touch with your own development and keep your mission statement in harmony with your deepest self. Continually ask yourself these questions:

Is my mission based on timeless, proven principles? Which ones?

Do I feel the mission statement represents the best that is within me?

During my best moments, do I feel good about what this mission represents?

Do I feel, direction, purpose, challenge, and motivation when I review this statement?

Am I aware of the strategies and skills that will help me live the values and accomplish the goals I have written?

What do I need to start doing now to be where I want to be tomorrow?

Step Six: Write a Permanent Draft
We recommend that for a while you keep a rough draft of your mission statement to revise and evaluate. Be sure it inspires the best within you.
When you do have a permanent copy, review it frequently. We strongly recommend you commit your personal mission statement to memory so that you keep your vision and values clearly in mind.

Material from (15 July 2011):

How We Started A Successful Online Store Selling Wedding Linens by Steve Chou

The year was 2007 and my wife and I were victims of a dreaded condition known as complacency. If you’ve never heard of this terrible condition before, it’s a disease that leads to spending 10 hours a day at a job that you don’t particularly like.

It’s an illness that stops you from pursuing your personal goals and aspirations because you can never find the time.

It’s a debilitating condition that causes you to trudge through each day doing the daily grind as life quickly passes you by.

Back then, my wife and I used to get up early in the morning, go to work, eat dinner, sleep and then wake up again the next day to repeat the cycle.

Days quickly faded into weeks, weeks dissolved into months and months soon became years of the same routine.

Even though we both made a pretty good salary from our day jobs, we were coasting our way through life like lifeless zombies. After all, we weren’t challenging ourselves. We weren’t trying new things and we stayed within our comfort zone when making important decisions. We had no sense of purpose and we were unmotivated and stagnant.

It sounds harsh, but my wife and I were lazy pieces of !@#$. Even though we had a lot of free time, we always ended up wasting it on empty activities. For example, our day consisted of working from 9-6:30pm, eating dinner and then watching television until it was time to go to bed.

Days and weeks went by quickly and we didn’t have anything to show for it. Even when I try really hard, I am unable to recall any specific memories during that period of my life. The only thing I remember is that I watched a hell of a lot of television and that my wife was terribly unhappy with her day job.

In fact, the only memory that stands out in my mind was how much she dreaded having to go to work each and every day. Every morning she would kiss me goodbye and then say

Okay, Honey. I’m off to the hell hole I call my job!

It was particularly painful for me because I had to watch her drag herself out of bed and witness her suffer every morning.

Even though she changed companies several times during her career, she never felt fulfilled working at any of her jobs. What’s ironic is that my wife and I had always wanted to start a business and be our own boss but we never got around to it. We talked about opening an online store many times but never took any action until it happened….

My wife became pregnant! I still don’t fully comprehend how peeing on a stick could stir up so many emotions, but my wife and I became excited and terrified at the same time. For one thing, I got a sudden injection of motivation and enthusiasm.

All of a sudden I felt like I needed to get off my ass and become a better person. I felt like I needed to be more responsible and to take charge of my life. I felt like I needed to get my act together and provide for my family.

As millions of thoughts swirled through my head, my primary concern became financial security. We needed a bigger house. We needed to live in a better school district. We needed to start a college education fund. We needed an emergency fund so large that we could survive even if I lost my job or got laid off.

As for my wife, she wanted to quit her job so she could take care of our child full time. She didn’t want to miss a single minute of our baby’s childhood. The only problem was that with the additional expense of having a child, she didn’t want to place a major crimp on our lifestyle or our finances. As a result, we needed to find another way to make money and replace her six figure salary. Hence our online store, Bumblebee Linens, was born.

Even though things started out slowly, our online store managed to replace my wife’s salary of $100K within one year.

Having our own business allowed her to stay at home and take care of our child while running our online store at the same time.

The best part was that my wife didn’t have to put in nearly as many hours as her day job to make significantly more money and she was much happier too.
Continue reading

Finding Your Passion Through Self Discovery


Life motto – “It is fine to work for others but make sure you are creating a life for yourself, create something that you can own.”

Everybody wants to be successful, everybody wants to make an impact in life, but a lot of people struggle and live a mediocre life because they don’t know how to be successful or influential. Life is a constant journey of self-discovery, the life you create for yourself is based on the choices you make and your daily thoughts, your thoughts create your reality.

Remember that success does not happen overnight, it is a life journey. And the ultimate success is happiness before anything else.

For most of life, we follow the ordinary path which is the general idea of how life is meant to flow, go to school, go to university, get a job, get married, have kids etc., a lot of people have this fixed mind-set in life with nothing in-between. Doing the usual things in life is perfectly fine, but what a lot of people don’t realise is, they are wasting their potential by not focusing on and growing the ‘self.’

It is crucial in life to focus on the self, because any journey in life starts ultimately with you, you need to learn yourself, love yourself and teach yourself in order to find your purpose and passion. My passion did not come to me straight away, for many years I was unsure and did not have a clue about what I wanted to do with life, I settled for the mediocre, I believed that success was in getting good grades and a good job. While I was in university, I discovered that there was more to life, and uni just wasn’t for me, luckily I finished my studies and graduated, and my experiences in university taught me a hell of a lot which I needed to learn about life and people. However, the biggest impact around this time was my discovery of ‘self,’ I really started to question who I was and what I wanted, I became more aware of what I definitely did not want and the kind of people I did not want around – the same people who would hold me back instead of helping me grow.

My journey of self-discovery didn’t stop there, it carried on and I’m still on that journey, the purpose of what I’m writing is that without self-discovery, without opening your mind you will be stuck in that mediocre life, you will struggle to find your purpose and passion. Sometimes you need to make that leap of faith and step out of your comfort zone, and be alone for a while to put life into perspective and to find your path, but there is no end to the path, it carries on throughout life with so many beautiful amazing things to see along the way and so many crucial life lessons to learn along the way.

The purpose is self-discovery and fulfilment in life, the journey to find our purpose leads us to our passions, the things we strive for, the things we are good at, and both purpose and passion combined make the best combination for a successful life.


“Exist at the same time or in the same place.”
“Exist in harmony despite different ideologies or interests.”

A few years ago I attended an anti-racism demo in London where thousands of people from all backgrounds, races and religions attended to show solidarity. I noticed a placard with the word ‘coexist’ drawn onto it, I had heard this word before but did not understand exactly what it signified. The sign features symbols of different religions or ways of life which are put together, side by side. This is what coexist represents, to live in harmony with one another.
“Every letter has a symbol that represents a system of thought: The crescent and star for Islam, the Star of David for Judaism, the Karma Wheel dotting the ‘I’ for Buddhism, the Tao symbol for Taoism and the cross for Christianity.”
Over the years there have been many variations of this popular image and people have recreated their own versions. Originally the coexist design was created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition.
Now more than ever, to coexist is crucial, we are living in times where divisions are rife, we have world leaders who only seek to divide us further. Racist attacks are carried out openly and shamelessly, people will not associate with you because you are of a religion which has been misrepresented and tainted by media and society, so many things divide us, and so few bring us together. The essence of coexistence holds a lot of wisdom and I believe that now more than ever we need to practice coexistence amongst ourselves. It needs to be communicated in everything we do, we need to practice coexistence especially in the times we are living in. it is easier said than done, but it is crucial. Since I saw the placard at the demo it has inspired me in many different ways, attending demos and being around so many different individuals is an act of coexistence in itself.

4hbPhoto by Aisha Mirza

Since launching the Henna Boutique I wanted to create something special around the word ‘Coexist,’ my aim was to produce something that would inspire many people and give us all a sense of hope and togetherness. As I am a henna artist I wanted to create something that had themes of henna with reference to the original design by Piotr Młodożeniec, my goal was to create a streetwear item that exemplified and communicated the goal of coexistence. The sweatshirt I have created will hopefully inspire many different individuals and will be a perfect wear for many demos and protests, I aim to inspire in everything I do just how the image created by Piotr Młodożeniec inspired me.

“Do not let your assumptions about a culture block your ability to perceive the individual, or you will fail.”
― Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance

“So little is actually worthy of belief or disbelief. Better to strive to coexist than seek to disapprove . . .”
― David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind
most of our colors are amazingly the same.”
― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love

“There is no envy, jealousy, or hatred between the different colors of the rainbow. And no fear either. Because each one exists to make the others’ love more beautiful.”
“God has given us many faiths but only one world in which to co-exist. May your work help all of us to cherish our commonalities and feel enlarged by our differences.”
― Jonathan Sacks

My message…

Art is something that makes you feel alive, it is important to pursue your passion or it is a waste of life and talent. My advice to people is its fine to work a 9-5, its fine to do a boring job for a while, or do absolutely nothing, as long as you also follow your intuition, goals and dreams. Do not neglect them or ignore them, work on them every day. It is ok to work for others but make sure you are working for yourself as well. Make sure you have something you can own proudly and say yes, I created that and it gives me so much happiness and a sense of achievement. I hope I can inspire you all with what I do, my goals are never ending and yours should be too.