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       The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens, p.1

           Sean Covey
The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens

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  What teens and others are saying about

  “From one mother to another, I highly recommend that if you want a better future for your teens, you must have them read this book!”

  —CANDACE LIGHTNER, founder, Mothers Against Drunk Driving

  “This book is perfectly written. I want all 74,000 students in our district to read it, as well as their parents and all 6,000 teachers. I am trying to figure out how to make it required reading for all teens in Nashville.”

  —PEDRO GARCIA, Ed.D., educational administration; superintendent, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

  “Sean Covey once told us, Success or failure in life is too often traced back to key decisions and we could not agree more. This informative and fun book outlines the six big challenges you will face as a teen and then provides plenty of stories and compelling evidence to help you make the right choice. Read it! We promise you’ll love it.”

  —BLAKE NEMELKA and BO NEMELKA, authors of The Middle School Student’s Guide to Academic Success

  “It wasn’t so long ago that as a teenager I was faced with some of these big decisions and I know how tough it can be. My advice to you is to give this book to a teen in your life. It will give them the tools they need to make smarter choices.”

  —CHELSIE HIGHTOWER, actress, and dance partner, trainer, and choreographer on Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You can Dance

  “The game of life is full of choices, especially in the teenage years. This book will give you the guidelines to help make something great out of it!”

  —STEVE YOUNG, former San Francisco 49ers Hall-of-Fame quarterback, founder of Forever Young Foundation, and author of QB: My Life Behind the Spiral

  “I went right to the chapter on dating and sex, of course. And this chapter has completely changed my mind on the question of sex before marriage—I mean it: a complete 180 degrees! Thank you, Sean Covey.“

  —DANNY MCFADDEN, age 16, Dublin, Ireland

  “In this delightful and compelling book, Covey achieves two remarkable feats: he grasps the world of ambiguity that teens face and brings order and clarity to their major challenges. His penetrating, humorous, and engaging style grabs hold of your attention and won’t let it go!”

  —JOHN T. CHIRBAN, Ph.D., Th.D., Harvard Medical School, author of True Coming of Age

  “Finally, a book has been written that equips our youth with the tools they need to make the right decisions! Sean’s genius lies in his ability to connect with the hearts, souls, and minds of teenagers. As a parent and as an educator, I feel strongly that every teenager should be required to read The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make. My own two teenagers summed this book up in one word: ‘AWESOME.’ ”

  —MURIEL THOMAS SUMMERS, principal, A. B. Combs Leadership Elementary School, National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the National School of Character 2004

  “How we live our lives is based on the values we choose. This book will help teens choose their values today in order to make the decisions that create a better tomorrow.”

  —A. C. GREEN, founder of A. C. Green Youth Foundation, former Los Angeles Laker and NBA “Ironman”

  “This is brilliant! Having teenagers put their input into this book has a great effect. I was thinking wow! These are people I can relate to, teenagers like me with the same problems. Maybe I am not so alone.”

  —KRISTI MARCHESI, age 15, Queensland, Australia

  “In a world where our teens are bombarded with mixed messages about sex, drugs, and image, Sean Covey’s ability to ‘tell it like it is’ is a rare blessing. I highly recommend this book.”

  —RICHARD PAUL EVANS, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Christmas Box

  “This book helped me understand that I have the power to decide for myself who and what I want to be and do.”

  —ALEXANDER IAN KENNEY, age 16, Copenhagen, Denmark

  “Sean Covey has done an outstanding job of understanding the complicated and dynamic needs of today’s young people. Sean is one of the leading authorities in writing to teens. It is a pleasure to know and support Sean in this great work.”

  —STEDMAN GRAHAM, author of Teens Can Make It Happen and founder of AAD Education, Health and Sports

  “Sean Covey has a genuine understanding of the challenges and needs of teenagers. He demonstrated it in his first book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and he demonstrates it again in this terrific new book. What a valuable guide and resource for our young people! I hope every teenager in the world reads it.”

  —HAL URBAN, Ph.D., education/psychology, author of Life’s Greatest Lessons

  “The timing of this book could not have been better. I have a fifteen-year-old son, and Sean Covey advises with the expertise of a friend who cares. Any teenager willing to listen just might find her- or himself inspired to be greater and do better.”

  —ANSON DORRANCE, soccer coach of the eighteen-time National Champion University of North Carolina women’s soccer team

  “I love the way this book deals with the important things that matter to me and my friends.”

  —DANIEL ARIAS, age 13, Costa Rica

  “There are a hundred good reasons to read this book—great stories, inspiring quotes, tons of tips on how to take ‘the high road’ in everything you do—but the chapter you’re likely to read first and remember most is ‘Dating & Sex.’ Covey shows us how to make the choices that will protect our health, heart, and happiness.”

  —THOMAS LICKONA, Ph.D., developmental psychologist and Professor of Education at the State University of New York at Cortland

  “This book is an investment in the future of the world and is essential for the success of your teen. I love this book!”

  —JULIE MORGENSTERN, author of Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens

  “Powerful stuff!! I have never seen some of the kids I work with so enthusiastic about a book—especially those who read little! There is no doubt that Sean’s material gets through to teens and has a real positive impact on their lives.”

  —LUISON LASSALA, youth leader at Anchor Educational Youth Centre and teacher at Rockbrook Park School, Dublin, Ireland

  “Through the inspiring and poignant stories of real teens and sound principles, this book brings wisdom and guidance to young people who face so many life-changing decisions and challenges. Written in a humorous and approachable style, this is a comprehensive handbook to life for the fortunate teens who read it.”

  —CHERI J. MEINERS, M.Ed., author of the children’s series Learning to Get Along

  “Parents, get your teens to read this! Nag them, pay them, or do whatever you have to. It is a simple and far-reaching message that can influence both today and tomorrow.”

  —DR. HENRY CLOUD, Ph.D. clinical psychology, cohost of the radio program New Life Live, and author of the million-seller Boundaries series

  “It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to read a book that mentions our main concerns, focused on our feelings.”


  “This bo
ok does not just only guide you but it makes you understand the true meaning of how teenagers live. After I finished the book I was not the same old me anymore. Not only has it changed my thoughts, it made me understand why these certain things are happening to me and how to overcome them.”

  —M. MANDAKH, age 19, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  “Sean Covey takes universal decisions and applies them individually. While teenagers will probably uncover many thought-provoking ideas and a wide variety of useful advice within the pages of this book, I’m sure the most important discovery will be within themselves.”

  —JON M. HUNTSMAN, Jr., former ambassador to China and Singapore

  “When I read this book, I felt like I was listening to advice from my best friend. By the time I finished this book, I could see that many good things will happen in my future if I listen to Sean’s advice and make the right decisions today.”

  —STELLA SAPUTRA, age 19, Jakarta, Indonesia

  “Any success I’ve had is attributable to the same guidelines Sean Covey lays out in this book. I’ve surrounded myself with the right people, people I truly want to be like, believers in me, not naysayers. My parents and family have been my biggest support system. For those teens that plain and simply just don’t have any real support system, I only hope they listen to Sean.”

  —ERIK WEIHENMAYER, blind climber of Mount Everest

  “I felt as if this book was made for me. It touched some nerves. It broadened my expectations and it gave me direction.”

  —SHERILYNNE WILLIAMS, age 17, Durban, South Africa

  “Sean Covey’s book provides an easy-to-read road map to a successful and fulfilling life where what matters most is who you are, not what you are or what you have. This book is engaging, interesting, and powerful. Dare yourself to read it!”

  —NORM DEAN, assistant regional director, Western Metropolitan Region, Department of Education & Training, Victoria, Australia

  “This book speaks directly to teenage concerns such as taking responsibility for one's life. I certainly wish I had learned to apply these principles when I was a teen. I have no doubt this book will be an absolute hit with me and my students.”

  —DR. HELEN EFTHIMIADIS-KEITH, life-skills coordinator, University of Limpopo (Turfloop campus), South Africa

  “Thanks to The 6 Decisions book, I am overcoming my identity crisis. I used to think I was just like everyone else. Now, I know I’m one of a kind.“

  —PENGUIN, age 2, Antarctica


  The 6 Big Ones

  The Choice Is Yours

  The 7 Habits Crash Course

  They Make You or Break You

  Decision 1: School

  I’m Totally Stressed Out!

  Sticking It Out

  Surviving and Thriving

  Off to College

  Finding Your Voice

  Decision 2: Friends

  So Fun…So Fickle

  Surviving the Everyday Ups and Downs of Friendships

  Making and Being a Friend

  Peer Pressure

  Decision 3: Parents

  How Embarrassing!

  The Relationship Bank Account

  You’re So Annoying

  Closing the Gap

  When You Have to Raise Your Parents

  Decision 4: Dating & Sex

  Do We Have to Talk About This?

  Intelligent Dating

  The Four Great Sex Myths

  Love Waits

  Decision 5: Addictions

  It’s Not Hard to Quit…I’ve Done It a Dozen Times

  Three Brutal Realities

  The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but

  Striking at the Root

  Decision 6: Self-Worth

  If Only I Were Better Looking

  The Social Mirror and the True Mirror

  Character and Competence

  Conquering Your El Guapo!

  Stick to the Code

  It’s Worth Fighting For!


  Help Desk

  Covey Classics

  About the Author

  About FranklinCovey



  To teens everywhere,

  who are striving to choose the higher road


  To my son, Michael Sean,

  who has shown great courage in hard moments

  Call me Sean.

  I’m the author and I’m glad you’re here. Don’t worry. This won’t be another boring book. This one’s different. It’s written just for teens and deals with your life, your problems, your stuff. It also has a lot of great cartoons. (I had to hire several artists and pay them a fortune because I can’t draw worth squat.)

  This book is about one idea. I’ll get straight to the point.

  There are six key decisions you make during your teen years that can make or break your future. So, choose wisely, and don’t blow it.

  If you do happen to blow it, however, it’s not the end of the world. Just get back on track quickly and start making smarter choices.

  Being a teen today is tougher than ever. While your grandparents may have had to walk uphill to school in the snow, you have a different set of challenges to navigate: like media overload, party drugs, online pornography, date rape, terrorism, global competition, depression, and heavy peer pressure. It’s a totally different world!

  Although I still shoot spit wads, I’m no longer a teen, but I vividly remember the ups and downs I went through. Most of my problems began at birth. My dad said, “Sean, when you were born your cheeks were so fat the doctor didn’t know which end to spank.” He wasn’t kidding. You should see my baby pictures. My cheeks hung off my face like water balloons. You can imagine how often I was teased.

  Once I was with all the neighborhood kids jumping on our trampoline. We were playing a game of add-on and it was my turn. Susan, my neighbor, couldn’t resist saying what everyone was thinking: “Man, look at Sean’s bouncing cheeks. They’re so fat.”

  David, my younger brother, in an effort to defend me, said, “They’re not fat. They’re muscle.”

  His valiant effort backfired, and everyone got a kick out of my new nickname, “Muscle Cheeks.”

  My problems continued into junior high school. I hated seventh grade and have chosen to forget most of it. I do remember that I still had fat cheeks, and an eighth grader named Scott kept trying to pick a fight with me. I don’t know why he picked on me. I’d never met the guy. Maybe it was because he was confident he could pound me. He’d wait in the hallway with a couple of his friends and challenge me to a fight every day after my algebra class. I was petrified and tried to stay away from him.

  One day he cornered me.

  “Hey, Covey. You big fat sissy. Why don’t you fight me?”

  “I dunno.”

  He then slugged me in the stomach real hard, knocking my breath out. I was too scared to fight back. He left me alone after that. But I was humiliated and felt like a loser. (By the way, I’m bigger than Scott now and I’m still looking for him. Kidding!)

  As I began high school, to my pleasant surprise, my face grew into my cheeks, but a new set of problems arose. Suddenly I had to make a lot of important decisions that I wasn’t ready for. During the first week, I was invited to join a club with seniors who drank a lot. I didn’t want to join but I also didn’t want to offend them. I started to make new friends. Then, there were all these new girls. One even started liking me. She was pretty and aggressive and it was exciting and scary all at once. I had so many questions. Should I like this girl? Who should I hang out with? What classes should I take? Should I go to that party? How can I juggle school, sports, and friends?

  I didn’t realize it at the time, but these were some of the most important decisions I’d ever make in my life.

  The idea for this book started when I sent out surveys to hundreds of teens from all over and asked, “What are your biggest challenges?” Here’s what
a few of them said:

  “Stress. Trying to fit everything in is my number one challenge because I have a lot on my plate.”

  “Parents. I have to deal with them every day and it’s exhausting.”

  “School and grades. My mom screams at me.”

  “Preparing for college. It’s right around the corner and I haven’t really given it much thought. Every time I try to think about it, I just end up getting a huge headache, so I don’t.”

  “Dealing with sexuality. I have to be able to make the right choices now so that I don’t have to live with my mistakes later. It seems like if you’re not having sex when you’re a teenager, then you’re a prude or something.”

  “Divorce of my parents. They always fight over who gets visitation.”

  “High school drama. Who’s going out with who? Popularity. Best hair. Most athletic. Who’s got money? Who said this about them? It’s ridiculous!”

  “Money. Barely enough money to live.”

  “Peer pressure is a major problem. I give in really easy, with the right people.”

  “I worry about the safety of my family because you can walk the streets and get killed. Most people are not going to school just to do drugs. I fear for my lil’ brother and sister.”

  “Friends. They are just bugging the heck out of me. I don’t relate to them anymore. They ignore me and stay in their little cliques. I feel excluded, so lately I have just been staying away from them.”

  “Dating. l don’t date whatsoever and here l am 17. My friends dog me and make me feel like l’m not doing something l should.”

  “Body and appearance. I struggle with my weight all the time.”

  I carefully studied all the surveys I got back. I also interviewed numerous teens from various locations over a three-year period. And a pattern began to emerge. Out of the 999 different challenges that were mentioned, six stood out above all the rest.

  As I looked deeper, I discovered that with each challenge there was a choice (or series of choices) to be made. Some teens I interviewed had made smart choices; others, dumb ones. As a result, some were happy and some messed up. These challenges represented fork-in-the-road decisions and the consequences were huge. It became clear that what you do about these challenges are the six most important decisions you’ll ever make as a teen!

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