Stephen R. Covey Quotes

Who the Heck is Stephen R. Covey?

Stephen Richards Covey was an American keynote speaker known for the must-read business book 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' which is considered a classic in the genre.

Born October 24, 1932
Died July 16, 2012

Books by Stephen R. Covey


Best 139 Quotes by Stephen R. Covey

“A family mission statement gives your family a future focus, a sense of hope, a sense of deep meaningful purpose.”

Stephen R. Covey

“A humble person is more concerned about what is right than about being right.”

Stephen R. Covey

“A moment of choice is a moment of truth. It's the testing point of our character and competence.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“As long as you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”

Stephen R. Covey

“As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile. While we do control our choice of action, we cannot control the consequences of our choices.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“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.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Consequences are governed by principles, and behavior is governed by values, therefore, value principles!”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Courage isn't absence of fear, it is the awareness that something else is important.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Don't argue for other people's weaknesses. Don't argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it - immediately.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Don't compromise, when you can synergize.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Don't get buried in the thick of thin things.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Each of us guards a gate of change that can be opened only from the inside.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Effective people are not problem-minded; they're opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Empathy is not sympathy. A sympathy is a form of agreement. Empathy is not agreeing with someone; it is fully, deeply understanding that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.”

Stephen R. Covey
The Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey

“Empathy takes time, and efficiency is for things, not people.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Frustration is a function of our expectations, and our expectations are often a reflection of the social mirror rather than our own values & priorities.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Happen to things, don't let things happen to you.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“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.”

Stephen R. Covey

“How many people on their deathbed wish they’d spent more time at the office?”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Humility is the mother of all virtues.”

Stephen R. Covey
The Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

Stephen R. Covey

“I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.”

Stephen R. Covey

“I think the most significant work we'll do in our whole life, in our whole world is done within the four walls of our home.”

Stephen R. Covey

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control - myself.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

Stephen R. Covey

“If two people have the same opinion, one is unnecessary.”

Stephen R. Covey

“If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“If you don't let a teacher know what level you are -- by asking a question, or revealing your ignorance -- you will not learn or grow.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“If you don’t have a mission statement, spend a few moments connecting with your inner compass and thinking about what really matters most in your life.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“In relationships, the little things are the big things.”

Stephen R. Covey

“In the space between stimulus and how we respond, lies our freedom to choose. Ultimately, this power to choose is what defines us as human beings. We may have limited choices but we can always choose. We can choose our thoughts, emotions, moods, our words, our actions; we can choose our values and live by principles. It is the choice of acting or being acted upon.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won't be good leaders or team players.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“It is possible to be busy-very busy-without being very effective.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“It is that a meaningful life is not a matter of speed or efficiency. It’s much more a matter of what you do and why you do it, than how fast you get it done.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“It's sometimes a painful process. It's a change that has to be motivated by a higher purpose, by the willingness to subordinate what you think you want now for what you want later.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“It’s easy to say 'no!' when there’s a deeper 'yes!' burning inside.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“It’s not enough to dream. It’s not enough to try. It’s not enough to set goals or climb ladders. It’s not enough to value. The effort has to be based on practical realities that produce the result. Only then can we dream, set goals, and work to achieve them with confidence.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Keeping a personal journal empowers you to see and improve, on a day-by-day basis, the way you’re developing and using your endowments. Because writing truly imprints the brain, it also helps you remember and apply the things you’re trying to do. In addition, it gives you a powerful contextual tool. As you take occasion—perhaps on a mission statement renewal retreat—to read over your experiences of past weeks, months, or years, you gain invaluable insight into repeating patterns and themes in your life.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Leadership is communicating others’ worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Link yourself to your potential, not to your past.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Little kindness and courtesies are so important.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Live your life by a compass not a clock.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“More important than how fast you’re going, is where you’re headed.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Most arguments are not really disagreements but are rather little ego battles and misunderstandings.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

Stephen R. Covey

“My experience tells me that people instinctively trust those whose personality is founded upon correct principles.”

Stephen R. Covey

“No matter how long we’ve walked life’s pathway to mediocrity, we can always choose to switch paths. Always. It’s never too late. We can find our voice.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“Nothing fails like success.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”

Stephen R. Covey

“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“People who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Perhaps the highest way to bring balance to life is the family.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“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.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Primary greatness is on the inside. It's about character.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Recognize we’ve been scripted in ways that are not in harmony with our deep inner conscience.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates.”

Stephen R. Covey
The Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Self awareness gives us ultimate human freedom.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Setbacks are inevitable; misery is a choice.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Start small, make a promise and keep it. Then, make larger promises and keep them.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Start with the end in mind.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Synergy is not only the answer to human conflict; it is also the principle that underlies the creation of every truly new thing in the world.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The Chinese bamboo tree is planted after the land is well prepared. During the first four years, all the growth of this tree is in the underground part.

The only thing visible from it during that time was a small ball from which a very small plant came out. In the fifth year this tree grows eighty feet at once.

This system applies to the leader whose leadership is based on the principles of truth and knows the theory of the Chinese bamboo tree. This type of leader knows the value of work and knows the value of preparing the land, planting seeds, putting fertilizer, water and taking care of it, as well as the value of not rushing to results early.

They know that the excellent harvest will come later. What a wonderful harvest.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities—what we do with, and how we manage our time.

The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction—what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.

The struggle comes when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass — when what we do doesn’t contribute to what is most important in our lives.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The greatest battles we fight are in the silent chambers of our own souls.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The greatest thing you can do for your children is love your spouse.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The key to life is not accumulation. It’s contribution.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“The problems in life come when we’re sowing one thing and expecting to reap something entirely different.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“The roots of the problems we face in the world, in our national life, and in our family and personal lives are spiritual.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.”

Stephen R. Covey

“The Urgency Addiction

Some of us get so used to the adrenaline rush of handling crises that we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy. How does urgency feel? Stressful? Pressured? Tense? Exhausting? Sure.

But let’s be honest. It’s also sometimes exhilarating. We feel useful. We feel successful. We feel validated. And we get good at it. Whenever there’s trouble, we ride into town, pull out our six shooter, do the varmint in, blow the smoke off the gun barrel, and ride into the sunset like a hero. It brings instant results and instant gratification. We get a temporary high from solving urgent and important crises. Then when the importance isn’t there, the urgency fix is so powerful we are drawn to do anything urgent, just to stay in motion.

People expect us to be busy, overworked. It’s become a status symbol in our society—if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re almost embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular, and pleasing. It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives. “I’d love to spend quality time with you, but I have to work. There’s this deadline. It’s urgent. Of course you understand.” “I just don’t have time to exercise. I know it’s important, but there are so many pressing things right now. Maybe when things slow down a little.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“There are three constants in life... Change, choice and principles.”

Stephen R. Covey

“There's no better way to inform and expand you mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“There’s no way we can escape accountability. We do make a difference—one way or the other. We are responsible for the impact of our lives.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Think about it. People are put on the P&L statement as an expense; equipment is put on the balance sheet as an investment.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

Stephen R. Covey

“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.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It's not logical; it's psychological.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“We are free to choose our actions, based on our knowledge of correct principles, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions. Remember, If you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

Stephen R. Covey

“We develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and obstacles.”

Stephen R. Covey

“We have to water, cultivate, and weed on a regular basis if we’re going to enjoy the harvest.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.”

Stephen R. Covey

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“We're responsible for our own lives.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“What is most personal, is most general.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“What is needed out there, and what is my unique strength, my gift?”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“What we believe about ourselves and our purpose has a powerful impact on how we live, how we love, and what we learn.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“What we sow, we must inevitably reap.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“What you alone can contribute, no one else can contribute. Viktor Frankl said we don’t invent our mission; we detect it. It’s within us waiting to be realized.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”

Stephen R. Covey

“When all you want is a person's body and you don't really want their mind, heart or spirit, you have reduced a person to a thing.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 8th Habit

“When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“When man created the mirror, he began to lose his soul. He became more concerned with his image than with his self.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 3rd Alternative

“When we talk about time management, it seems ridiculous to worry about speed before direction, about saving minutes when we may be wasting years.”

Stephen R. Covey
First Things First

“Without involvement, there is no commitment.”

Stephen R. Covey

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights. You could no more call them back then ignore the mess they left when they fell.”

Stephen R. Covey

“You and I together are far greater than we are alone.”

Stephen R. Covey

“You can buy a person's hands but you can't buy his heart.”

Stephen R. Covey

“You can't change the fruit without changing the root.”

Stephen R. Covey

“You can't talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into!”

Stephen R. Covey

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, 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.”

Stephen R. Covey

“You have to water the flowers you want to grow.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People