First Things First

Overview

FIRST THINGS FIRST HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT EVERY DAY...

Stephen R. Covey and the Merrills have shown millions of readers how to balance the demands of a schedule with the desire for fulfillment. Now the principles they introduced in First Things First are distilled for everyday reading. Let First Things First Every Day be your guide to the rich relationships, the inner peace, and the confidence that come from knowing where ...

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Overview

FIRST THINGS FIRST HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT EVERY DAY...

Stephen R. Covey and the Merrills have shown millions of readers how to balance the demands of a schedule with the desire for fulfillment. Now the principles they introduced in First Things First are distilled for everyday reading. Let First Things First Every Day be your guide to the rich relationships, the inner peace, and the confidence that come from knowing where you're headed, and why.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
USA Today Covey is the hottest self-improvement consultant to hit U.S. Business since Dale Carnegie.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451676730
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2015
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Stephen R. Covey is an internationally respected leadership authority, teacher, author, organizational consultant, and co-founder and vice chairman of Franklin Covey Co. He is author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which Chief Executive magazine has called the most influential business book of the last 100 years. The book has sold nearly 20 million copies, and after 20 years, still holds a place on most best-seller lists. Dr. Covey earned an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate from BYU, where he was a professor of organizational behavior. For more than 40 years, he has taught millions of people — including leaders of nations and corporations — the transforming power of the principles that govern individual and organizational effectiveness. He and his wife live in the Rocky Mountains of Utah.

A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill are coauthors of the bestselling First Things First. They enjoy writing and teaching together. In addition, Roger was a cofounder of the covey Leadership Center. He is involved in the development of personal effectiveness software and consults and teaches in the field of leadership worldwide.

Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill are coauthors of the bestselling First Things First. They enjoy writing and teaching together. In addition, Roger was a cofounder of the Covey Leadership Center. He is involved in the development of personal effectiveness software and consults and teaches in the field of leadership worldwide.

Biography

Stephen R. Covey writes in his blockbuster self-improvement tome, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, about the "social band-aid" effect of much recent success literature, the tendency to create personality-based solutions to problems that go deeper. "Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction," he wrote. Covey acknowledges the importance of the "personality ethic," but he sought to go deeper and emphasize the "character ethic," something Covey saw as a fading concept. He went back further and found inspiration in figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thoreau, and Emerson.

Indeed, everything old is new again in Covey's works. The author himself would admit that nothing he is saying is terribly new; but Covey's synthesis of years and years of thinking about effectiveness resulted in a smash personal growth title -- one that continues to be a top seller nearly 15 years after its first publication. The title, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, makes it sounds like a quick-fix path to power, but Covey's philosophy is rooted in exactly the opposite notion: There are no quick fixes, no shortcuts. He is writing about habits, after all, which can be as tough to institute as they can be to break. His list: Be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; sharpen the saw.

Covey's subsequent titles are based in some way or another on this seminal book. First Things First offers a time-management strategy and a new way of looking at priorities. Principle-Centered Leadership is an examination of character traits and an "inside-out" way of improving organizational leadership. Covey, a Mormon, also wrote two religious contemplations of human effectiveness and interaction, The Spiritual Roots of Human Relations and The Divine Center. These were Covey's first two titles; his esteem for spirituality is not absent from subsequent work but appears as just one more tool that can be applied in self-improvement.

Like Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese?, 7 Habits has been able to achieve astonishing sales success by espousing ideas applicable beyond an office setting. Covey's books are about self-improvement more than they are about corporate management, which has enabled him to create a successful version of the philosophy for families (entitled, of course, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families) in addition to attracting people who just want to be more efficient in their lives, or bolster that diet.

Most attractive about Covey is his versatility in conveying his ideas. His books are structured in appealing, number-oriented groupings ("Three Resolutions," "Thirty Methods of Influence," four quadrants of importance in time management) and big umbrellas of ideas, but within these pockets Covey draws from a wide range of resources: anecdotes, business school exercises, historical wisdom, and diverse metaphors. Sometimes, Covey uses himself as an example. He knows as well as anyone that practicing what he preaches is tough; but he keeps trying, which makes him an inspiring testimonial for his own books.

Good To Know

Covey is married to Sandra Merrill Covey. They have nine children.

Covey is co-chair of FranklinCovey, a management resources firm based in Provo, Utah. He has also been a business professor at Brigham Young University, where he earned his doctorate.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 12 million copies in 33 languages and 75 countries throughout the world.

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    1. Hometown:
      Provo, Utah
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salt Lake City, Utah
    1. Date of Death:
      July 16, 2012
    2. Place of Death:
      Idaho Falls, ID

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

January 1

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. Universal laws or principles do. Thus, we are not in control of our lives; principles are.

p. 12*

All page references are to First Things First.

January 2

We live in a modern society that loves shortcut techniques. Yet quality of life cannot be achieved by taking the right shortcut. There is no shortcut. But there is a path. The path is based on principles revered throughout history. If there is one message to glean from this wisdom, 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.

p. 12

January 3

The power is in the principles.

p. 14

January 4

Be governed by your internal compass, not by some clock on the wall.

p. 16

January 5

If the thing you've committed to do is principle-centered, you gradually become a little more principle-centered. You keep the promise to yourself and your own integrity account goes up. One of the best ways to strengthen our independent will is to make and keep promises. Each time we do, we make deposits in our Personal Integrity Account. This is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust we have in ourselves, in our ability to walk our talk. It's important to start small.

p. 68

January 6

For most of us, the issue is not between the "good" and the "bad," but between the "good" and the "best." So often, the enemy of the best is the good.

p. 18

January 7

In the absence of "wake-up calls," many of us never really confront the critical issues of life. Instead of looking for deep chronic causes, we look for quick-fix Band-Aids and aspirin to treat the acute pain. Fortified by temporary relief, we get busier and busier doing "good" things and never even stop to ask ourselves if what we' re doing really matters most.

p. 21

January 8

Paradigms are like maps. They' re not the territory; they describe the territory. And if the map is wrong — if we're trying to get to someplace in Detroit and all we have is a map of Chicago — it's going to be very difficult for us to get where we want to go. We can work on our behavior — we can travel more efficiently, get a different car with better gas mileage, increase our speed — but we're only going to wind up in the wrong place fast. We can work on our attitude — we can get so "psyched up" about trying to get there that we don't even care that we're in the wrong place. But the problem really has nothing to do with attitude or behavior. The problem is that we have the wrong map.

p. 25

January 9

Our problem, as one put it, "is to get at the wisdom we already have."

p. 73

January 10

We're not in control; principles are. We can control our choices, but we can't control the consequences of those choices. When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.

p. 25

January 11

While you can be efficient with things, you can't be efficient — effectively — with people.

p.26

January 12

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. So if we want to create significant change in the results, we can't just change attitudes and behaviors, methods or techniques; we have to change the basic paradigms out of which they grow.

p. 28

January 13

One thing's for sure: If we keep doing what we're doing, we' re going to keep getting what we' re getting.

p.30

January 14

We need to move beyond time management to life leadership.

p.31

January 15

It's important to realize that urgency itself is not the problem. The problem is that when urgency is the dominant factor in our lives, importance isn't. What we regard as "first things" are urgent things. We're so caught up in doing, we don't even stop to ask if what we're doing really needs to be done.

p.36

January 16

While management is problem-oriented, leadership is opportunity-oriented.

p. 48

January 17

Values will not bring quality-of-life results..,unless we value principles.

p.52

January 18

All the wishing and even all the work in the world, if it's not based on valid principles, will not produce quality-of-life results. 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.

p.52

January 19

The power of principles is that they' re universal, timeless truths. If we understand and live our lives based on principles, we can quickly adapt; we can apply them anywhere.

p.53

January 20

To understand the application may be to meet the challenge of the moment, but to understand the principle is to meet the challenge of the moment more effectively and to be empowered to meet a thousand challenges of the future as well.

p.53

January 21

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

p.56

January 22

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.

p.57

January 23

Quality of life is inside-out. Meaning is in contribution, in living for something higher than self.

p.58

January 24

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.

p.59

January 25

Stand apart from your dreams. Look at them. Write about them. Wrestle with them until you're convinced they're based on principles that will bring results. Then use your creative imagination to explore new applications, new ways of doing things that have the principle-based power to translate dreaming to doing.

p. 64

January 26

To hear conscience clearly often requires us to be "still" or "reflective" or "meditative" — a condition we rarely choose or find.

p. 65

January 27

Make and keep a promise — even if it means you' re going to get up in the morning a little earlier and exercise. Be sure you don't violate that commitment and be sure you don't overpromise and underdeliver. Build slowly until your sense of honor becomes greater than your moods. Little by little, your faith in yourself will increase.

p. 68

January 28

Our lives are the results of our choices. To blame and accuse other people, the environment, or other extrinsic factors is to choose to empower those things to control us.

p. 70

January 29

We choose — either to live our lives or to let others live them for us.

p.70

January 30

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

p.72

January 31

If a goal isn't connected to a deep "why," it may be good, but it usually isn't best.

p.142

Copyright © 1997 by Covey Leadership Center, Inc.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Introduction

Section One

THE CLOCK AND THE COMPASS

1 How Many People on Their Deathbed Wish They'd Spent More Time at the Office?

2 The Urgency Addiction

3 To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy

Section Two

THE MAIN THING IS TO KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING

4 Quadrant II Organizing: The Process of Putting First Things First

5 The Passion of Vision

6 The Balance of Roles

7 The Power of Goals

8 The Perspective of the Week

9 Integrity in the Moment of Choice

10 Learning from Living

Section Three

THE SYNERGY OF INTERDEPENDENCE

11 The Interdependent Reality

12 First Things First Together

13 Empowerment from the inside Out

Section Four

THE POWER AND PEACE OF PRINCIPLE-CENTERED LIVING

14 From Time Management to Personal Leadership

15 The Peace of the Results

Epilogue

Appendices

Appendix A: Mission Statement Workshop

Appendix B: A Review of Time Management Literature

Appendix C: The Wisdom Literature

Notes

Problem/Opportunity Index

Index

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