Selected Quotes from First Things First

Steve Covey's inspirational book, First Things First, is a must read. I pulled out some of my favorite quotes from the book here. Some are by Covey, some are quoted by him:


Most of us feel it would be great if we are in control of our lives. But the fact is, we're not in control; principles are. We can control our choices, but we can't control the consequences of these choices. (pg 25)


Relationships should be transformational, not merely transactional


Management works with the paradigm, leadership creates new paradigms. Management works within the system. Leadership works on the system. (pg 27)


This is the true joy in life...
being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one...
being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making your happy....

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me. It's a sort of splendid torch which I've got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

-- George Bernard Shaw (pg 49)


All of history can be written in a simple little formula -- challenge, response. The challenge is created by the environment, and the individual, the institutional, the society comes up with a response. Then there is another challenge, another response. The formula is constantly being repeated -- Arnold Toynbee (pg 53).


One definition of insanity is "to keep doing the same things and expect different results".


Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom
(pg 59)


In a sense, knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows: for details are swallowed up in principles. The details of knowledge which are important will be picked up ad hoc in each avocation of life, but the habit of the active utilisation of well-understood principles is the final possession of wisdom.

-- Alfred North Whitehead, "The Rhythmic Claims of Freedom and Discipline," in The Aims of Education and Other Essays, p. 46


That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our ability to do has increased.
-- Attributed to Emerson