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About Stephen Covey



Stephen.Covey (1932 – 2012) was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. His most popular book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Wikipedia

  

Stephen Covey (quotes)

Change from within

  • If you want to change your outer world, change yourself within  
  • If you want to change something without, change within. If you want a happy relationship, BE a person who generates positive energy. Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.
  • If you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it.  
  • Real change comes from the inside out.  
  • We immediately become more effective when we decide to change ourselves rather than asking things to change for us.
  • The “Inside-Out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. The inside- out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves recedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.
  • Private victories precede public victories. You can’t invert that process any more than you can harvest a crop before you plant it.
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Changing your paradigm

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Your paradigms create the lens through which you see the world  

  • Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world.
  • Paradigms are the mental images you have in your mind of the way things are which come from your background and experiences.  
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Your paradigms are deeply subjective  

  • All of us think we see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.  
  • Many of the “truths” you cling to are simply a result of one point of view—yours.  
  • We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.  
  • We all see things in different ways. We all have different paradigms or frames of reference—like eyeglasses through which we see the world. We see the world not as it is, but as we are—or sometimes as we are conditioned to see it. The more we are aware of our basic paradigms, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experiences, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, change them if necessary, and listen to others and be open to their perceptions.  
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To make lasting changes to your attitude and behaviour, you need to change your paradigms …  

  • To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
  • If we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant quantum changes, we need to work on our basic paradigms—the way we view ourselves and the world around us.
  • Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others.
  • We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.  
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… by bringing them into alignment with correct principles  

  • As we go deeply within ourselves, as we understand and realign our basic paradigms to bring them harmony with correct principles, we create both an effective, empowering center and a clear lens through which we can see the world. We can then focus that lens on how we, as unique individuals, relate to that world.  
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Adopt the paradigm of “we” (interdependence)  

  • Interdependence is the paradigm of “we”—we can do it; we can combine our talents and abilities to create something greater together. Despite independence being the avowed goal of many people and social movements, interdependence is a far more effective and advanced concept.
  • Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own efforts. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.  
  • Effective interdependence can only be built on a foundation of true independence.
  • Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.  
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Being principle centred

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Become principle centred  

  • I live my life by True North principles – the Laws of Life. I connect with the wisdom of the ages and the wisdom of the heart.  
  • Becoming principle-centred is a lifetime quest, but there is intense peace and satisfaction in the journey itself.
  • Effective people are guided by their own missions and manage their lives according to principles. Ineffective people follow other people’s agendas and manage their lives around pressing matters.  
  • Realise that to make a principle part of your life, you must pay the price by actually living it, rather than merely understanding it intellectually.  
  • You can’t live principals you can’t understand.  
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Principles are natural, timeless laws that govern the consequences of behaviour …  

  • Natural laws (like gravity) and principles (like respect, honesty, kindness, integrity, and fairness) control the consequences of our choices. Just as you get bad air and bad water when you consistently violate the environment, so also is trust (the glue of relationships) destroyed when you’re consistently unkind and dishonest to people.  
  • Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences.   
  • Principles always have natural consequences attached to them. There are positive consequences when we live in harmony with the principles. There are negative consequences when we ignore them. But because these principles apply to everyone, whether or not they are aware, this limitation is universal. And the more we know of correct principles, the greater is our personal freedom to act wisely.  
  • Principles are like a compass. A compass has a true north that is objective and external, that reflects natural laws or principles, as opposed to values which are subjective and internal.
  • Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken.
  • There are fundamental laws of life (Truths) that operate with unerring consistency – and you are better off to the degree to which you learn to live according to them.
  • There are principles that govern human effectiveness – natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.  
  • While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.
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… unlike values which simply drive behaviour  

  • While values drive behaviours, principles govern consequences.
  • Everyone has values; even criminal gangs have values. Values govern people’s behaviour but principles govern the consequences of those behaviors.  
  • Principles are natural laws that are external to us and that ultimately control the consequences of our actions. Values are internal and subjective and represent that which we feel strongest about in guiding our behaviour.
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Here are examples of principles to live your life by  

  • Examples of principles include the law of the harvest (You reap whatever you sow in the long term), thrift, industry, trust, saving for future needs, self- reliance, reaching out and helping other people, etc.  
  • If you look at all enduring philosophies, religions and thoughts, you will find principles such as integrity, compassion, trust, honesty, accountability and others at their core.  
  • Integrate these principles and habits deep within your nature; into your basic character: integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, simplicity, modesty.
  • Principles are universal —that is, they transcend culture and geography. They’re also timeless, they never change—principles such as fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service, contribution.  
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Being principle centred leads to happiness and peace of mind  

  • A person’s quality-of-life arises from living a life which is aligned with character traits and principles which have formed the foundation of every great person or society in history. This goes beyond values, practices or religion to the laws at the heart of happiness and quality- of- life.   
  • I believe that a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth. I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self- esteem is primarily a matter of mind set, of attitude—that you can psych yourself into peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
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Being principle centred leads to effectiveness and success  

  • 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 endeavor is always derived from acting in harmony with the principles to which the success is tied.  
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Being principle centred living requires humility and courage  

  • Humility is the mother of all virtues. Humility says we are not in control, principles are in control, therefore we submit ourselves to principles. Pride says that we are in control, and since our values govern our behaviour, we can simply do life our way.  Courage is the father of all virtues; we need great courage to lead our lives by correct principles and to have integrity in the moment of choice.  
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Character

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Concern yourself with character (who you truly are) rather than superficial techniques  

  • The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.  
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Character is at the heart of happiness, effectiveness and quality of life  

  • A person’s quality-of-life arises from living a life which is aligned with character traits and principles which have formed the foundation of every great person or society in history. This goes beyond values, practices or religion to the laws at the heart of happiness and quality- of- life.   
  • Most people define greatness through wealth and popularity and position in the corner office. But what I call everyday greatness comes from character and contribution.  
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Your character is a composite of your habits  

  • Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.
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Your character is strengthened through challenge and adversity  

  • Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition –  such as lifting weights –    we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.
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Your character (the kind of person you truly are)  is constantly communicated through your words and actions  

  • One of the keys to your influence and your effectiveness in communicating your message to others is your example and conduct. Your example flows naturally out of your character—the kind of person you truly are—and not who others say you are or who you may want others to think you are. Your character is constantly communicating to others who you are. Because of what your character communicates, people will either trust or distrust you and your efforts with them.
  • In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.  
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Habit 1:  Be proactive by acting on life, not being acted upon

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Be proactive by acting on life, not being acted upon …  

  • Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life.  
  • If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.
  • Proactive people recognise they are responsible for their choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than moods or conditions.  
  • The first choice we make each and every day is, “Will we act upon life, or will we merely be acted upon?”
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… through the exercise of your independent will  

  • In addition to self-awareness, imagination and conscience, it is the fourth human endowment – independent will – that really makes effective self- management possible. It is the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with them. It is the ability to act rather than to be acted upon, to proactively carry out the program we have developed through the other three endowments. Empowerment comes from learning how to use this great endowment in the decisions we make every day.  
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Be the author of your life and script the life you desire  

  • What you make of your life is up to you. Every person creates his or her own reality. Authorship of your life is one of your absolute rights, yet so often people deny that they have the ability to script the life they desire.  
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Take control over what is in your circle of influence …  

  • There are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern, things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather.  
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… realising there are some things you can control, some you can’t  

  • If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.
  • Humility is the mother of all virtues. Humility says we are not in control, principles are in control, therefore we submit ourselves to principles. Pride says that we are in control, and since our values govern our behaviour, we can simply do life our way.  
  • Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile.
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Proactive living leads to freedom  

  • People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day, little by little, expand that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally ‘being lived.’ They are acting out scripts written by parents, associates, and society.
  • Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.  
  • Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.  
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To be proactive, learn to consciously choose your response to outside events  

  • Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.
  • Between stimulus and response, you have the freedom to choose. This is your greatest power. One of the most important things you choose is what you say.  Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language—I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language—I can’t, I must, if only.
  • Look at the word responsibility—’response-ability’—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
  • Mastering proactive responses will take time and practice. You may not always succeed, but just remembering that you have a choice will make a great deal of difference.
  • Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.
  • While we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can choose our responses.
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Let your responses be based on your values, principles and conscience rather than factors like mood or anger  

  • Between stimulus and response, you have the freedom to choose your response based on self awareness, your imagination, your conscience and your independent will.  
  • We must not let the actions or words of others determine our responses. Magnanimous people make the choice to respond to the indignities of others based upon their own principles and their own value system rather than their moods or anger.  
  • The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalised values.  
  • You are a disciple, a follower, of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.
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To be proactive, take full responsibility for your choices and actions  

  • When life does not go our way or we inadvertently make a mistake, it is so easy to make excuses, place blame on others, or argue that circumstances were against us. But we only progress in life to the extent that we take responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and put forth the initiative necessary to create our own circumstances.   
  • Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life.  
  • Proactive people recognise they are responsible for their choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than moods or conditions.  
  • Look at the word responsibility—’response-ability’—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognise that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
  • Proactive people recognise that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame circumstances, or conditioning for their behaviour.  They know they choose their behaviour. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment.  If the weather is good, they feel good.  If it isn’t, it effects their attitude and performance.  
  • But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”   
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To be proactive, replace old, defeating habits with higher, more effective ones  

  • Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).
  • Are you willing to undertake whatever is necessary to break that habit? If you are, write down three things you will do to begin the process of breaking that habit.  
  • Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.
  • Power includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
  • Whatever your present situation, I assure you that you are not your habits. You can replace old patterns of self- defeating behavior with new patterns, new habits of the effectiveness, happiness and trust-based relationships.
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Habit 2:  Begin with the end in mind 

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Begin with the end in mind …  

  • Almost all of the world-class athletes and other peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it before they actually do it. They begin with the end in mind.
  • Begin with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.
  • To begin with the end in mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.  
  • We are more in need of a destination and less in need of a road map.
  • We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.
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… by creating a clear purpose and vision for your life and any endeavour …  

  • Always start every endeavour with a clear sense of purpose.  
  • The sooner you have a clear vision of what you want to be and the contributions you want to make, the more effective you’ll be in your life.   
  • I can change. I can live out of my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to my limitless potential instead of my limiting past. I can become my own creator.
  • If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.  
  • Begin with the end in mind.  Shape your future by creating a mental vision and purpose for any project, large or small.
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… thus living from your imagination, instead of your history  

  • To be successful we must live from our imaginations, not from our memories.
  • Through imagination, we can visualise the uncredited worlds of potential that lie within us.
  • Live out of your imagination, not your history.
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Habit 3:  Put first things first

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Put first things first …  

  • Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.  
  • As you begin to think more in terms of importance, you begin to see time differently.   
  • Kick the urgency addiction: get back to the important stuff.  
  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
  • The noise of urgency creates the illusion of importance.  
  • You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
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… by scheduling time for activities that are important but not urgent  

  • Examples of Quadrant 2 tasks  (important and non urgent tasks) :  Preparation, planning activities, prevention, relationships, new opportunities, creativity, true recreation, personal development, empowerment
  • What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life? Quadrant II activities have that kind of impact. Our effectiveness takes quantum leaps when we do them.
  • While most of the world spins around in Quadrant I, reacting to urgent matters and managing one crisis after another, people who spend a majority of their time in Quadrant II (important but not urgent tasks) are leading balanced, serene, and ordered lives. They are planning and executing according to their highest priorities.  
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Focus on doing the right things, not just doing things right  

  • Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.
  • If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.
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Beware of getting caught in an activity trap  

  • It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective.  
  • It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the business of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.
  • Recognise that not doing it all is okay – even important.  
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Get to know what is most important to you  

  • How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.
  • Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven’t paid the price to decide what is really important to them.  
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To help you determine what is important, create a personal mission statement …  

  • A good mission statement is the key that effective people use to discern which things are important—which things are really worth acting upon.  
  • A mission statement holds the key to producing quality-of-life enhancing results and generating a genuine and deep passion for life.  Stephen Covey
  • A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.  
  • Effective people are guided by their own missions and manage their lives according to principles. Ineffective people follow other people’s agendas and manage their lives around pressing matters.  
  • Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behaviour with your beliefs.  
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… encapsulating what you want to become and achieve  

  • From the perspective of your entire life, what is it that you most care about and what gives meaning to your life? What do you want to be and do in your life? A written mission statement encapsulates what you want to become and achieve.   
  • The most effective way I know to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed. It focused on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based.  
  • An empowering mission statement deals with both character and competence; what you want to be and what you want to do in your life.  
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The format it takes is up to you  

  • Keep in mind that a Personal Mission Statement is, well, personal. There is no set length or style. It can be a poem, a few sentences, a few pages, or even a song.  
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Here are the qualities of an effective mission statement  

  • A good personal mission statement should be highly motivational and inspiring. It should empower you to go onwards and upwards. It is never a static statement, but should be refined and enhanced as life moves forward.  
  • An empowering mission statement is the fulfilment of your own unique gifts.  It’s the expression of your unique capacity to contribute.  
  • An effective mission statement: Is an expression of your own unique capacities. Inspires you rather than impresses anyone else. Is based on true principles which produce quality-of-life. Includes the physical, social, mental & spiritual areas. Deals with what you want to be and do with your life. Balances all the significant roles of your life.  
  • If what you write feels flat and unexciting, you’re on the wrong track. If the words overwhelm you with emotion and excitement, you’re onto something!  
  • An empowering mission statement deals with all the significant roles in your life.  It represents a lifetime balance of personal, family, work, community – whatever roles you feel are yours to fill.  
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Once you’ve created a mission statement, set goals that support it  

  • Goals are what give your mission statement momentum. They create a plan of action and help measure whether or not you are successfully living your mission statement.  
  • If you don’t set your goals based upon your Mission Statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get to the top, you’re on the wrong building.   
  • Review your mission statement. Create three long-term goals that support your mission.  
  • When setting a goal, take time to consider the What-Why-How framework.  Specificy what your goal is precisely.  Note all the reason why achieving that goal is desirable.  Specify exactly how the goal is to be achieved.  Specify when the goal is to be achieved by.  
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Habit 4:  Think win-win  

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Think win-win  

  • Contrary to most of our scripting, to win does not mean somebody else has to lose.
  • Most of life is not a competition. … If both people aren’t winning, both are losing.
  • People who think win-win have a frame of mind and heart that seeks mutual benefit and mutual respect in all interactions. They think in terms of abundance and opportunity – in terms of “we” and not “me.”  They continually seek to build more trusting relationships with others by making deposits into the Emotional Bank Account.  
  • Win-Win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-Win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.  
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Win-win cultivates trust  

  • A Win-Win outcome requires trust. When you work for a Win-Win outcome, you seek mutual benefit.  
  • People who continually practice a Win-Win approach cultivate high-trust relationships. Why? Because they are treating others as they would like to be treated.  
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Win-win cultivates an abundance mentality  

  • An Abundance Mentality is believing there is plenty for everyone.  
  • People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle- centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-  being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to…rather than detracts from…our lives.   
  • The more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well- being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to rather than detracts from our lives.
  • An abundance mentality springs from internal security, not from external rankings, comparisons, opinions, possessions, or associations.  
  • Win-Win cultivates an Abundance Mentality: “We can find options that will be acceptable for everyone. There is always enough for everyone.” Win-Lose cultivates a Scarcity Mentality: “My way is the only acceptable way. There’s only so much, so I’d better get mine first.”  
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Win-win requires a balance between consideration and courage  

  • Achieving that balance between courage and consideration—is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to Win- Win. If you’re high on courage and low on consideration, how will you think? Win-Lose. You’ll be strong and ego- bound. You’ll have the courage of your convictions, but you won’t be very considerate of others. If you’re high on consideration and low on courage, you’ll think Lose- Win. You’ll be so considerate of others’ feelings that you won’t have the courage to express your own. High courage and consideration are both essential to Win-Win. It’s the balance of the two that is the mark of real maturity. If you have it, you can listen and you can empathically understand, but you can also courageously confront.  
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Habit 5:  Seek first to understand

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Seek first to understand …  

  • Listen first to understand, then speak to be understood.
  • If you really seek to understand, without hypocrisy and without guile, there will be times when you will be literally stunned with the pure knowledge and understanding that will flow to you from another human being.
  • Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival—to be affirmed, to be appreciated, and to be understood.
  • Seek first to understand. Be more interested in understanding others and less in having other people understand you.
  • Seeking to understand takes consideration, seeking to be understood takes courage.  Effectiveness lies in balancing or blending the two.  
  • The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.
  • When we listen with the intent to understand others, rather than with intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship building.  Opportunities to then speak openly and to be understood come much more naturally and easily.  
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… for understanding is the real beginning of influence  

  • In order to have influence with other people, they must first feel that you understand them. And once they feel understood, they are open to hearing your ideas, your counsel, and your point of view.  
  • 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.
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Listen actively, free of your autobiography  

  • Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives, and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart. You’re focused on receiving the deep communication from another human soul.  
  • When you use them at the right time with the right intent, they can be productive. But usually autobiographical responses force your opinion on others and sometimes you may be perceived as intrusive or unwilling to understand.  
  • You hear through your own autobiography — your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he or she finishes communicating.  
  • Because you so often listen autobiographically, you tend to respond in one of four ways: 1.  Evaluate: You either agree or disagree. Probe: You ask questions from your own frame of reference  2.  Advise: You give counsel and solutions to problems based on your own experiences. 3.  Interpret: You try to figure people out—explain their motives and behaviour—based on your own motives and behaviour.  
  • Even if your intention is to help, giving advice or evaluating without being asked can backfire in the long run.  
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Listen with your eyes and heart, not just your ears  

  • When you and others speak, the meaning you communicate comes from three sources: the words you use, your body language, and how you say your words. Listening with your eyes means you pick up on nonverbal cues that another is communicating through his or her body language. Listening with your heart means you listen for feeling and meaning that is expressed through the tone and inflection of another’s voice. And listening with your ears is simply hearing the actual words that are being said.  
  • It’s important to remember that more than 90 percent of what people communicate does not come through words but through nonverbal communication, such as tone of voice and body language. This is where the paradigm shift usually occurs for people.  
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Listen with empathy  

  • Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.
  • Empathic listening gets you inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way he or she sees it, and you understand how he or she feels. This does not necessarily mean you agree; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person emotionally as well as intellectually. You temporarily let go of your perspective to understand his or her perspective.  
  • Empathic listening is not about just listening with your ears. It’s about listening with your eyes and heart, too.  
  • Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgment. And it is sometimes the more appropriate emotion or response. But people often feed on sympathy. It makes them dependent.  
  • Empathy is the fastest form of human communication.  
  • When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air.   
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Habit 6:  Synergize

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Synergize …  

  • Synergy is celebrating differences, teamwork, open-mindedness, and finding new and better ways together.  Synergy means you can literally produce something with another person that neither of you could have produced   
  • Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together, they will hold much more than the total weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One plus one equals three or more.  
  • Synergy:  The combined effect on individuals in collaboration that exceeds the sum of their individual efforts.
  • The Third Alternative is achieved when two or more people work together to create a better solution than those individuals could create separately. It’s 1+1=3 or more. It’s not your way or my way but a better way, a higher way. There are five steps to a Third Alternative: Define the problem or opportunity. Listen to the other person. Share your views. Brainstorm options together. Find the best solution together.   
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… by valuing and leveraging differences between yourself and others  

  • Differences are an opportunity, not an obstacle. The key is to remain open to hearing ideas so you can determine which ideas to combine to spark a better solution.  
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
  • The essence of synergy is to value differences—to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses. Once people have experienced real synergy, they are never quite the same again. They know the possibility of having other such mind- expanding adventures in the future.
  • Synergy is the highest activity of life; it creates new untapped alternatives; it values and exploits the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.  
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Habit 7:  Sharpen the saw

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Sharpen the saw …  

  • Habit 7 is taking the time to sharpen the saw. By renewing the four dimensions of your nature –    physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional, you can work more quickly and effortlessly. To do this, we must be proactive. This is a Quadrant II (important, not urgent) activity that must be acted on. It’s at the center of our Circle of Influence, so we must do it for ourselves.  
  • Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” you ask. “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.” ‘Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”
  • Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree. They are exhausted from working for hours. You suggest they take a break to sharpen the saw. They might reply, ” I didn’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m busy sawing!”   
  • We must never be too busy to take time to sharpen the saw.  
  • You need to allocate time to figuratively “sharpen the saw”. That requires spending time maintaining good physical health, social well being, our mental capacities and our spiritual foundation.  
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… by making time for renewal  

  • Schedule some downtime every day.  Write in a journal or take a quiet bath before bed.
  • Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious of your well- being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health. You can revitalize yourself in order to face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up- and-go has got-up- and- gone. Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal—a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.  
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Sharpening the saw helps maintain a balance between your production and production capability  

  • To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness.  
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Fulfil your four fundamental needs – spiritual, mental, physical, social  

  • Fulfilling the four needs – spiritual, mental, physical, social – in an integrated way is like combining elements in chemistry. When we reach a “critical mass” of integration, we experience spontaneous combustion – an explosion of inner synergy that ignites the fire within and gives vision, passion, and a spirit of adventure to life.  
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Take care of yourself and look after your health  

  • It is fully legitimate to nurture yourself before reaching out to others.  You can’t give someone a drink of water from an empty glass.  Take good care of yourself and you’ll gain genuine insight into how to care for others.  
  • Vibrant health is based on natural principles. It grows over time out of regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate rest, a healthy mind- set, avoiding substances that are harmful to the body.
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Spoil yourself once in a while  

  • Spoiling yourself once in a while is actually good for you.  It triggers endorphins.  Its satisfying.  You don’t have to throw down the self discipline gauntlet, just relax a little.  Indulging can help you control cravings so they don’t turn into binge- fests.  Balance is about enjoying bliss, not just cutting out the junk.  
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Exercise the mind, not just the body  

  • Researchers believe that vigorous mental exercise literally grows brain circuitry.  Furthermore, the process does not diminish with age.  If this is true, exercising your mental capacities should keep you as young and vital as exercising your body can.  
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Make time for stillness in your life  

  • Someone once inquired of a Far Eastern Zen master, who had a great serenity and peace about him no matter what pressures he faced, “How do you maintain that serenity and peace?”He replied, “I never leave my place of meditation.” He meditated early in the morning and for the rest of the day, he carried the peace of those moments with him in his mind and heart.  
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Principle centred living

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Live according to your deepest values  

  • As you live your values, your sense of identity, integrity, control, and inner-directedness will infuse you with both exhilaration and peace. You will define yourself from within, rather than by people’s opinions or by comparisons to others. “Wrong” and “right” will have little to do with being found out.  
  • Begin each day with the blueprint of my deepest values firmly in mind, then when challenges come, make decisions based on those values.
  • People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.  
  • Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values –  carefully thought about, selected and internalised values.
  • Whenever you experience stress of any kind, look into yourself and ask, “In what way am I compromising my innermost values in this situation?   
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Live by the principle of personal integrity  

  • Integrity is when you do what you say you will do.  
  • Living a life of integrity starts with making and keeping promises, until the whole human personality, the senses, the thinking, the feeling, and the intuition, are ultimately integrated and harmonised.  
  • I believe that a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth. I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self- esteem is primarily a matter of mind set, of attitude—that you can psych yourself into peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
  • My security does not come from the way people treat me or by comparing myself to others. It comes from my basic integrity.
  • The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.
  • We exhaust ourselves far more from the tension and the consequences of internal disharmony – not doing what we feel we should – than from hard, unremitting work.  
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Live by the principle of authenticity  

  • The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and even self- doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves.  That expression in turn feeds back on the other person’s spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place, producing new insights and learnings.
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Live by the principle of balance  

  • Balance is a True North Principal. Nature is living proof.
  • Balance is created when you address each role on a regular basis.  
  • True effectiveness requires balance.
  • Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven’t paid the price to decide what is really important to them.  
  • The principle of balance is the ability to identify our various roles and to spend appropriate amounts of time in, and focus on, all of the important roles and dimensions of our lives. Success in one area of our life cannot compensate for neglect or failure in other areas of our life.  
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Live by the principle of contribution  

  • Meaning is in contribution, in living for something higher than self.
  • Most people define greatness through wealth and popularity and position in the corner office. But what I call everyday greatness comes from character and contribution.  
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Live by the principle of continuous learning  

  • The principle of continuous learning, of self-reeducation is the discipline that drives us toward the values we believe in. Such constant learning is required in today’s world. Continuous learning is part of what keeps us feeling empowered in our relationships and accomplished in our work. Technology is constantly changing, and many of us will work in more than five different fields before we retire. Are you willing to be left behind?  
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Live by the principle of trust  

  • Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.     
  • Trust is the highest form of human motivation.
  • Quality relationships are built on principles – especially the principle of trust. And trust grows out of trustworthiness, out of the character to make and keep commitments, to share resources, to be caring and responsible, to belong, to love unconditionally.
  • Nothing engages someone like having trust placed in them. They want to prove the trust is justified and rise to the occasion.  Trust motivates and inspires.  Trust is the most compelling form of human motivation, and delegation is a practice that demonstrates trust.
  • When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.  
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Create trust by making deposits into the emotional bank account of your key relationships  

  • Each relationship requires a unique type of deposit.  Some relationships equate hugs, compliments, and small gifts with deposits.  For other relationships, dependability and pulling your weight are the primary deposits.  
  • Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.  
  • Make deposits into the Emotional Bank Accounts of your key relationships, and nurture the people you are close to. Success and harmony at home precede all other successes.  
  • Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits into the Emotional Bank Account.  
  • The Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust you build up in a relationship. Much like a financial bank account, deposits are made and withdrawals are taken from an Emotional Bank Account. When you do something positive for another person, it can be a major deposit for that person. Deposits build a reserve of goodwill and trust. On the other hand, when you do something negative toward another person, you make a withdrawal. When withdrawals exceed deposits, the account is overdrawn and the level of trust deteriorates. With your relationships, it’s vital that you make continual deposits in order to sustain a high level of trust.  
  • The quality of the relationship depends on what you put into it.  Keeping promises, being courteous and kind, offering support, listening and taking time for the other person are just a few ways to make deposits.  
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More principles to live by  

  • Assume everything you say about another, they can overhear; now speak accordingly.  
  • Avoid the four emotional cancers: criticizing, complaining, comparing, and competing.  
  • ..be a light, not a judge; …be a model, not a critic.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground.
  • Consult the wisdom of your heart as well as your mind.   
  • Honesty is always the best policy, even when it’s not the trend.
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Weekly planning

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Review your past week  

  • Each week, you should stop and ask: What goals did I achieve?  What challenges were encountered?  What decisions did I make? What successes and failures did I have? How much time was actually spent on important activities? What keeps getting in the way of achieving my goals?  What have I learned from this week that will help me?  
  • The real value of any week is not only what is achieved but also what has been learned from it, and what you have become as a result of it.  
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Plan your  week ahead  

  • At your weekly planning session, you should write down one or two goals for each of your roles.  
  • By planning ahead one week at a time rather than each day, you gain a better perspective of what is urgent and what is important.  
  • Commit to investing from twenty to thirty minutes a week in weekly planning. Follow these steps as you plan: Write down your key roles. Select one or two of your highest priorities to focus on this week. Look at the week and schedule your tasks and appointments.  
  • Have a regular weekly planning session in which you plan ahead the activities of the coming week.  This simple process will ensure the things which you consider to be most important are not lost in the daily hustle-bustle of accomplishing the activities which are urgent.  
  • Review your mission statement, roles and goals, and current weekly plan. What are your top three priorities for this week? These are your Quadrant II activities?
  • So far, you’ve figured out your purpose, values, roles, and first things. How are you going to make sure your first things really are first and stay first? The best way we’ve found is through weekly planning.  
  • Your weekly planning session should follow this sequence: 1.  Mission   2.  Roles  3. Goals   4.  Schedule   
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Schedule time for important tasks  

  • Create time zones for specific important activities.  The idea is not to fill the entire week with time zones, but to set aside a few specific periods during which you can concentrate on non- urgent and important activities relating to your goals.  
  • Fit in the big rocks first and the smaller stones will fit between the spaces.
  • If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all.
  • The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
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Identify your main roles in life  

  • You live your life in terms of roles—not in the sense of role-playing, but in the sense of authentic relationships and responsibilities you’ve committed to. You may have important roles in your family, in the community, at work, or in other areas of your life. Roles represent responsibilities, relationships, and areas of contribution.  
  • If you identify more than seven life roles, combine some functions to get down to seven or less. Next to the role, write a description of what optimal performance in that role would look like for you.  
  • Your profession or work life may contain several roles. For example, you may have one role in administration and another in marketing. It’s up to you to define your roles in a way that works for you.  
  • Much of the frustration many people feel comes from the fact that they are succeeding at one role but failing at others. To lead a well balanced life, each of your personal roles must work together for the accomplishment of your mission.  
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Create actions for each role to achieve balance  

  • Balance is created when you address each role on a regular basis.  
  • For each role, stop and ask: What is the most important thing I can do this week to make progress in this specific role?
  • How do your roles tie in with Putting First Things First? With your purpose and values? As you plan your week using your chosen planning tool, be sure you schedule activities in each key role.  
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Plant your priorities deep within to keep the fires of motivation burning  

  • Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds.  
  • Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.
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More thoughts

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To progress in life, you need to constantly learn, commit and act  

  • Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think that any one of these is sufficient. To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do—learn, commit, and do—and learn, commit, and do again.  
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Get to know yourself through self observation and awareness  

  • Until we know ourselves and are aware of ourselves as separate from others and from the environment—until we can be separated even from ourselves so that we can observe our own tendencies, thoughts, and desires—we have no foundation from which to know and respect other people, let alone create change within ourselves.
  • When you understand and are comfortable with yourself, it becomes easier to open yourself to the ideas of others.
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Invest deeply in yourself rather than looking for short term fixes and techniques  

  • Deep continuous investment over time brings real, sustaining change. Cramming or quick fix solutions do nothing.
  • Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm – to forget to plan in spring, play all summer, and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest?  
  • The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.
  • This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life— investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.
  • To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school. You sometimes get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don’t pay the price day in and day out, you’ll never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind.  
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Enduring change requires sowing seeds and tending to them  

  • The only thing that endures over time is the ‘Law of the Farm.’ You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water if you expect to reap the harvest.
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Appreciate the power of action  

  • Those who get the most out of life and those who give the most are those who make the choice to act.  
  • What you do has far greater impact than what you say.  
  • Love is a value that is actualised through loving actions.  
  • Love – THE FEELING – is a fruit of love, the verb.  
  • …to learn and not to do is really not to learn.  
  • Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
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Appreciate the importance of relationships  

  • Nothing is more exciting and bonding in relationships than creating together.  
  • One of the best ways to educate our hearts is to look at our interaction with other people, because our relationships with others are fundamentally a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.
  • Our greatest joy and our greatest pain comes in our relationships with others.
  • While you can think in terms of efficiency in dealing with time, a principle-centered person thinks in terms of effectiveness in dealing with people.  
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Use affirmation and visualisation  

  • A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.
  • In effective personal leadership, visualization and affirmation techniques emerge naturally out of a foundation of well thought through purposes and principles that become the center of a person’s life.  
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Develop your four greatest capacities: vision, discipline, passion and conscience  

  • When you study the lives of all great achievers–those who have had the greatest influence on others, those who have made things happen- -you will find a pattern. Through their persistent efforts and inner struggle, they have greatly expanded their four native human intelligences or capacities. The highest manifestations of these four intelligences are: for mental, vision; for the physical, discipline; for the emotional, passion; for the spiritual, conscience. These manifestations also represent our highest means of expressing our voice.  
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Delegate  

  • Delegation takes time at first but it lightens the load and ultimately is going to use less time in the long run.  
  • Effectively delegating to others is perhaps the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.
  • It’s far better to delegate results than specific activities. For example, “Here’s what we are doing, here’s what we’re after. I want you to get the sale,” instead of, “Follow up on those leads.”  
  • Nothing engages someone like having trust placed in them. They want to prove the trust is justified and rise to the occasion.  Trust motivates and inspires.  Trust is the most compelling form of human motivation, and delegation is a practice that demonstrates trust.
  •  The great strength of delegation is that we can accomplish so much more. It allows us to multiply ourselves and increase leverage to grow our businesses beyond our own individual capacities.  
  • We accomplish all that we do through delegation – either to time or to other people.  
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When delegating, make your expectations clear  

  • Another mistake is making your expectations unclear. When people aren’t quite sure what it is they are trying to do, the outcome they are striving for, and how they are going to be accountable for it, they’re not motivated or inspired.
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Clarify your thoughts and reflections through writing them down  

  • Writing distills, crystallises, and clarifies thought.
  • Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.  
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Engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion  

  • When you engage in a work that taps your talent and fuels your passion – that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.  
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Recognise there are 4 human needs to live a fulfilled life: to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy  

  • There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfilment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-  being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.
  • There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfilment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy’…  The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.  
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Thoughts on time management  

  • Time management” is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.
  • Highly effective people do not really manage time—they manage themselves.
  • While you can think in terms of efficiency in dealing with time, a principle-centered person thinks in terms of effectiveness in dealing with people.  
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Thoughts on wisdom  

  • Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, and integrated wholeness.
  • Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other.  
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Thoughts on power  

  • Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
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Thoughts on leadership  

  • I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
  • Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.
  • Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
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Thoughts on solving problems  

  • If you start to think the problem is ‘out there’, stop yourself. That thought is the problem.  
  • The way we see the problem is the problem.  
  • You can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.  
  • Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  
  • Get the “big picture” quickly by asking yourself “Okay, will I care about this in a month?  In a year?”  If you’re going to freak yourself out, make sure it’s for a good reason.  
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Thoughts on organising  

  • Organising often becomes an end rather than a means to a greater ends. Tremendous time can be spent organising rather than producing. Applied in excess, the strength of organising becomes a weakness. We can become over structured, nitpicking and inflexible.
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More thoughts from Stephen Covey  

  • Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.  
  • Creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.  
  • He who has a why can deal with any what or how.  
  • I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.
  • If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.  
  • People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.  
  • Role modeling is the most basic responsibility of parents. Parents are handing life’s scripts to their children, scripts that in all likelihood will be acted out for the rest of the children’s lives. 
  • The greatest risk is the risk of riskless living.
  • To ignore the unexpected (even if it were possible) would be to live without opportunity, spontaneity, and the rich moments of which “life” is made.
  • To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.
  • Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
  • Trying to do well and trying to beat others are two different things. Excellence and victory are conceptually different and are experienced differently.
  • We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.     
  • We are not our feelings. We are not our moods. We not even our thoughts.
  • Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.
  • You’ve spent years learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training or education have you had that enables you to listen so that you really, deeply understand another human being from that individual’s own frame of reference?
  • Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self- esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.  Stephen Covey
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Questions asked by Stephen Covey  

  • How can you be more proactive and less reactive today?  
  • What difference would a clear vision of my principles, values, and ultimate objectives make in the way I spend my time?
  • What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life?
  • Whenever you experience stress of any kind, look into yourself and ask, “In what way am I compromising my innermost values in this situation?   
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