SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- It was all about the numbers for a group of Division West Soldiers attending a Strong Bonds for Single Soldiers event here last weekend.

The 17 Soldiers learned the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" from the popular self-help book which has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages. The philosophy of the book closely relates to the five aspects of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.

"I especially like the '7 Habits' program because it focuses on the development of the whole person, not just one particular area. The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program also focuses on the complete person, helping Soldiers address their physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual needs," said Chap. (Maj.) Maury Millican, 120th Infantry Brigade chaplain. "The applications of the '7 Habits' can help Soldiers take control of their lives and achieve success in their military careers, their relationships with others and their personal lives."

According to author Stephen Covey, the premise of the "7 Habits" is taking an inside-out approach to create a plan to become a highly effective person. By living the seven habits, Covey has said, "You won't just be living your life, you'll be leading your life."

Out of the seven habits, Millican likes the last one, "Sharpening the Saw," best because it emphasizes the importance of refreshing and renewal.

"I think this is something Soldiers often neglect to do. They are so focused on taking care of others and completing the mission that they don't take time for themselves," Millican said. "While they consider themselves hard-charging, unfortunately, this can often end up having a negative effect on their relationships with their Families and friends and fellow Soldiers."

Several Soldiers agreed with Millican and expressed hope that the program would help them.

"I am definitely concerned that I am so wrapped up in the job. In fact, I almost didn't come on this retreat because I was worried about all the things I needed to do in the office. But my commander said I should go," said Spc. Joshua Castillo, 120th Infantry Brigade. "I'm glad I did. This has been helpful, as it puts it into perspective for me. It's all about balancing, not overdoing one thing and underdoing another."

Sgt. 1st Class Julio Marquez, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, was not sure what to expect, as this was his first Strong Bonds event.

"I heard from others that Strong Bonds retreats are pretty good. I figured it would be a nice break and maybe I would learn something, too," Marquez said. "This program was right on for me. It can help me in all aspects of my life. I really liked the second habit, 'Start with the End in Mind,' as it showed me that if I do this, it will help me overcome that and lead me to where I want to be."

Millican said he thinks Soldiers definitely benefit from the program. "All the habits are simple ideas but pack enough power to make significant changes in one's life," he added. "The trick, of course, is to stay committed, and put the practices in action so they become second nature, or a habit for you."

The "7 Habits" instruction is just one of the many self-development and enrichment programs offered by the various Strong Bonds retreats sponsored by Army chaplains for Soldiers worldwide.

"Strong Bonds do bring value to the Army. If you want Soldiers who are fit to fight, you have to do more than just look at the physical fitness aspect. Strong Bonds create a relational dynamic that makes Solders strong in mind, body and spirit," Millican said. "If a Soldier has failed relationships either with Family or at work, then they are not focused on being the best they can be. Soldiers will always have Soldier issues, and Strong Bonds retreats help them become resilient and ready."

Page last updated Tue July 24th, 2012 at 00:00