First Things First: Stephen R. Covey

So I have been slacking on reading this year. It has been a loooooooong year on the personal front and I find that my productivity dwindles when I am going through the most. I started “First Things First” by Stephen Covey possible at the beginning of my year (November.lol). It’s been a hard book to read – but aren’t all Stephen Covey books though? It has been challenging, it made me realize I am a mess (rolls eyes) and that – where I can pin point the mess in others – it is paramount that I acknowledge my imperfections and the contribution that I make to making a situation what it becomes. Y’all, it isn’t child’s play to work toward #becoming but I am grateful that – where I forget – there is something that comes in and kicks in a reminder. So, here we are with my notes from Coveys book. Thank me later.

ON WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT CONTROL

  • “While we do control our choice of action, we cannot control the consequences of our choices. Universal laws or principles do.”

Freedom comes with a cost…

  • “We need to constantly be asking ourselves, “What is needed out there, and what is my unique strength, my gift?”
  • “The way we see (our paradigm) leads to what we do (our attitudes and behaviors); and what we do leads to the results we get in our lives.”
  • “Principles are the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”
  • “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
  • “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing”
  • “Balance in our lives isn’t a running between compartments; it’s a dynamic equilibrium.”
  • “one called to exercise responsible care over possessions entrusted to him or her.” We’re stewards over our time, our talents, our resources.
  • “We may pass up daily, weekly, moment-by-moment opportunities to make deposits because we’re too busy blaming circumstances or other people for our own failure to achieve our goals.”

ON PROGRESS AND THE COMFORT ZONE

 “So often, the enemy of the best is the good.”

i.e. the enemy of a great life is a good life!!

  • “What is the one activity that you know if you did superbly well and consistently would have significant positive results in your personal life?”
  • “Do I really want to do it? Am I willing to pay the price? Do I have enough strength to do it? Do I accept the responsibility for my own growth? Am I settling for mediocrity when I could be achieving excellence? Am I blaming and accusing others for my own inability to set and achieve goals?”

ON MANAGEMENT OF SELF AND OTHERS

  • “Management works within the system. Leadership works on the system… management: “Am I doing the right things?” before “Am I doing things right?””
  • “Do I often find that I’m consumed by one or two roles in my life, and that the others do not receive the time and attention I’d like to give them?”
  • “How many of my “first things” are in roles other than those that receive most of my time and attention?”
  • “What is the most important thing I could do in each role this week to have the greatest positive impact?”
  • “Focus on importance rather than urgency.”
  • “STEPS
    • Preview the day.
    • Prioritize.
    • Use some form of T planning for the day.”
  • “An empowering mission statement deals with both character and competence;”
  • “When our roles grow out of mission, vision, and principles, “balance” is a deeper issue than spending time in compartmentalized boxes of life.”
  • “Make sure that your roles grow out of your mission and that your mission includes all the important roles in your life.”

ON BEING A PERSON OF INTEGRITY

  • “Am I willing to be a person of total integrity? Am I willing to apologize when I make mistakes, to love unconditionally, to value someone else’s happiness as much as I do my own?”
  • “One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.”
  • “A high balance in [the personal integrity] account is a great source of strength and security. But when we don’t achieve our goals, we make withdrawals”
  • “Conscience Creates Alignment with Mission and Principles”
  • “Self-Awareness Empowers Us to Build Integrity”
  • “Trustworthiness is only as high as the balance in our Personal Integrity Account.”
  • “The situation may change. We may change. And we can’t act with integrity without being open to that change.”
  • “Integrity means more than sticking to a goal, no matter what. It’s integrity of system, an integrated process that creates an open connection between the mission and the moment.”

ON PRIORITIZING THINGS THAT MATTER

  • “What do you feel would make a significant difference in each role?”
  • “Quadrant II organizing empowers you to look at the best use of your time through the paradigm of importance rather than urgency.”
  • “It’s easy to say “no!” when there’s a deeper “yes!” burning inside.”
  • “Good judgment comes when your logical and rational thoughts and ideas are supported by a gut reaction that the decision “feels” right”
  • “Each role in our lives has a physical dimension (it requires or creates resources), a spiritual dimension (it connects to mission and principles), a social dimension (it involves relationships with other people), and a mental dimension (it requires learning).”

ON CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT OF SELF

  • An hour a day spent “sharpening your saw” creates the “private victory” that makes public victories possible.
  • “If change is driven by mission, conscience, and principles, it moves us toward the best.”
  • “What are the one or two most important things I could do in this role this week that would have the greatest positive impact?”
  • “Determinations—things you’re determined to do, no matter what—and concentrations, areas of pursuit you focus your efforts around.”
  • “Personal leadership is cultivating the wisdom to recognize our need for renewal and to ensure that each week provides activities that are genuinely re-creational in nature.”

ON SELF-AWARENESS AND SELF-CARE

  • “Self-awareness prompts us to start where we are—no illusions, no excuses—and helps us to set realistic goals.”
  • “Self-awareness empowers us to ask: Am I allowing the good to take the place of the best?”
  • Balanced Renewal The perspective of the week prompts us to plan for renewal—a time for recreation and reflection—weekly and daily.

ON INTERDEPENDENCE

  • “ Quadrant II activities as: • Building, repairing, or renewing relationships with family and friends • Recommitting to deep values through religious activities • Restoring energy through rest and recreation, Developing talents through special interests and hobbies • Contributing through community service”
  • “Educating the heart is the process of nurturing inner wisdom… “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.””
  • “Think win-win (based on principles of see/ do/ get, mutual benefit, and cooperation). Seek first to understand, then to be understood (based on principles of respect, humility, and authenticity).”
  • “Both character and competence are necessary to inspire trust.”
  • “Peace and quality of life come only as we discover and align with the fundamental Laws of Life.”
  • “Frustration is essentially a function of unmet expectations—we expect something to be a certain way or to produce certain results, and it doesn’t.”
  • “Only as we focus more on contributing than consuming can we create the context that makes peace in all aspects of life possible.”

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