I am not a product of my circumstances… I am a product of my decisions.

Stephen Covey Quotes

Stephen R. Covey (born October 24, 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah) is the author of the best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Other books he has written include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. In 2004, Covey released The 8th Habit. In 2008, Covey released The Leader In Me  ̶  How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time.


  • If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control  ̶  myself.
  • We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.
  • Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).
  • Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
  • Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.
  • Live out of your imagination, not your history.
  • Through imagination, we can visualize the uncredited worlds of potential that lie within us.
  • To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
  • We see the world, not as it is, but as we are  ̶  or, as we are conditioned to see it.
  • We must look at the lens through we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.
  • It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
  • 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.
  • People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
  • …to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.
  • I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
  • I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.
  • Begin each day with the blueprint of my deepest values firmly in mind then when challenges come, make decisions based on those values.
  • The way we see the problem is the problem.
  • You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into!


  • 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.
  • … 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.
  • The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
  • You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage ̶ pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, 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.
  • Independent will is our capacity to act. It gives us the power to transcend our paradigms, to swim upstream, to rewrite our scripts, to act based on principle rather than reacting based on emotion or circumstance.
  • Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.
  • Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.

Taking Action

  • The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.
  • Start with the end in mind.
  • We are free to choose our actions, . . . but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.
  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

People Skills

  • Think Win-Win
  • Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
  • To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.
  • Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
  • Words are like eggs dropped from great heights. You could no more call them back then ignore the mess they left when they fell.
  • Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.
  • It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.
  • Treat them all the same by treating them differently.
  • To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.

Smart Leader

  • Management works in the system; Leadership works on the system.
  • If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.
  • People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.




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