Stephen Covey was an American educator, author, entrepreneur and keynote speaker.
He was best known for his international bestselling book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, which sold over 25 million copies and was translated into 40 languages.
Over his lifetime Stephen Covey inspired millions of people with the power of universal principles, which are all simple and timeless teachings anyone can use to improve their effectiveness.
His work from the oval office to board rooms and school halls led to Stephen Covey being recognised as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities and thought leaders.
Though passing away in 2012 at the age of 79, we can all continue to learn from the great work that Stephen Covey accomplished in his life.
The 67 Stephen Covey Quotes below with give you the inspiration and mindset to do just that.
67 Stephen Covey Quotes
1. “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.” – Stephen Covey
2. “Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” – Stephen Covey
3. “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Stephen Covey
4. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey
5. “To learn something but not to do is really not to learn. To know something but not to do is really not to know.” – Stephen Covey
6. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey
7. “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” – Stephen Covey
8. “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” – Stephen Covey
9. “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 Covey
10. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.” – Stephen Covey
11. “You can retire from a job, but don’t ever retire from making extremely meaningful contributions in life.” – Stephen Covey
12. “There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.” – Stephen Covey
13. “Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” – Stephen Covey
14. “Remember, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Stephen Covey
15. “You’re not a product of your nature. That is your genetic makeup or your nurture, the things that have happened to you. Of course those things affect you powerfully, but they do not determine you.” – Stephen Covey
16. “If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.” – Stephen Covey
17. “Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” – Stephen Covey
18. “We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.” – Stephen Covey
19. “We become what we repeatedly do.” – Stephen Covey
20. “I believe in this concept that you learn by teaching.” – Stephen Covey
21. “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.” – Stephen Covey
22. “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” – Stephen Covey
23. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen Covey
24. “The key to life is not accumulation. It’s contribution.” – Stephen Covey
25. “Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.” – Stephen Covey
26. “There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.” – Stephen Covey
27. “Through imagination, we can visualize the un-credited worlds of potential that lie within us.” – Stephen Covey
28. “Empathy is not sympathy. 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 Covey
29. “I have made it a regular practice to interview my children. The basic ground rule in this “interview” is that I only listen and try to understand. It is not a time for moralizing, preaching, teaching, or disciplining – there are other times for that – this is a time to merely listen and understand and empathize. Sometimes I want terribly to move in and advise, teach, judge, or sympathize, but I have inwardly determined that during these special visits I will only attempt to understand.” – Stephen Covey
30. “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” – Stephen Covey
31. “Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy – leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.” – Stephen Covey
32. “I don’t define leadership as becoming the CEO. A CEO is no more likely to be a leader than anyone else. I am talking about leading your own life, being a leader among your friends, being a leader in your own family.” – Stephen Covey
33. “You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.” – Stephen Covey
34. “In relationships, the little things are the big things.” – Stephen Covey
35. “Our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn.” – Stephen Covey
36. “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 Covey
37. “I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.” – Stephen Covey
38. “Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.” – Stephen Covey
39. “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.” – Stephen Covey
40. “The first choice we make each and every day is, “Will we act upon life, or will we merely be acted upon?”” – Stephen Covey
41. “Between what happens to us — that is the stimulus — and our response is a space. In that space lies our power and our freedom to choose our response. And in those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” – Stephen Covey
42. “Setbacks are inevitable. Misery is a choice.” – Stephen Covey
43. “To retain the trust of those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.” – Stephen Covey
44. “If you organize your family life to spend even 10 or 15 minutes a morning reading something that connects you with these timeless principles, it’s almost guaranteed that you will make better choices during the day — in the family, on the job, in every dimension of life.” – Stephen Covey
45. “The interesting thing is that, like it or not, you are a model. And if you’re a parent, you are your children’s first and foremost model.” – Stephen Covey
46. “The root cause of almost all people problems is the basic communication problem — people do not listen with empathy.” – Stephen Covey
47. “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” – Stephen Covey
48. “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 Covey
49. “Your economic security does not lie in your job; it lies in your own power to produce – to think, to learn, to create, to adapt. That’s true financial independence. It’s not having wealth; it’s having the power to produce wealth.” – Stephen Covey
50. “Courage isn’t absent of fear, it is the awareness that something else is important.” – Stephen Covey
51. “It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” – Stephen Covey
52. “Those who get the most out of life and those who give the most are those who make the choice to act.” – Stephen Covey
53. “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 Covey
54. “When you have a challenge and the response is equal to the challenge, that’s called ‘success’. But once you have a new challenge, the old, once-successful response no longer works. That’s why it is called a ‘failure’.” – Stephen Covey
55. “Empathy takes time, and efficiency is for things, not people.” – Stephen Covey
56. “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” – Stephen Covey
57. “In the space between stimulus (what happens) 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 Covey
58. “While we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can choose our responses.” – Stephen Covey
59. “Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.” – Stephen Covey
60. “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.” – Stephen Covey
61. “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” – Stephen Covey
62. “Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing – too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic and that the heart remains unfulfilled.” – Stephen Covey
63. “Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.” – Stephen Covey
64. “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 Covey
65. “Anytime we think the problem is ‘out there,’ that thought is the problem. We empower what’s out there to control us. The change paradigm is ‘outside-in’ – what’s out there has to change before we can change. The proactive approach is to change from the ‘inside-out’: to be different, and by being different, to effect positive change in what’s out there – I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more cooperative.” – Stephen Covey
66. “If you don’t know yourself, if you don’t control yourself, if you don’t have mastery over yourself, it’s very hard to like yourself, except in some short-term, psych-up, superficial way.” – Stephen Covey
67. “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.” – Stephen Covey
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