Today, Steven R. Covey died. You will know him from his most famous book, published in multiple languages around the globe, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Covey died at 79 years of age from a bicycle accident.
As I read the news today, I reflected on the first time I read his book over 20 years ago. I was in graduate school, and was challenged to read this book for a project, and it hit me! Covey was able to communicate in a way that challenged me, inspired me, and addressed directly the things I was struggling with as a young leader. I remember finishing the book for the first time, then I went back, and immediately began reading it for the second time. This book is still on my shelf today, and I often turn to it and am reminded of great leadership truths that fill these pages. Covey had this effect on the millions of people who read his books and heard him speak.
However, out of all of the books, lessons, teaching and principles that Covey taught, the one that has had the most effect on my life comes from his simple “Quadrant II Living” principle. This has changed the way I lead, the way I manage my personal life and the way I protect and value my time. Covey draws his “time management matrix”, which is simply 4 squares, and I labels them “Urgent: Not-Urgent: Important: Not-Important”
I will share with you what I have learned from this principle:
*I waste a lot of time on things that don’t matter. They just steal my time: interruptions, distractions, time wasters, etc… I have to manage my time, and that means that I need to manage what “GETS” my time.
*I want to focus on things that are important, and this means I need to spend time doing “important” things. Covey simply says, “If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values and your high priority goals.” I don’t want to waste time on things that don’t matter!
*There things that I “HAVE” to do. This is true for all of us. Sometimes I have to make a decision or respond to a crisis. This is leadership! We can’t pass this off, we can’t ignore it. Covey helped me understand that in my role as a leader, there are things that will always be required of me, but there are also things that I don’t need to be doing. Determining the difference between this has become very important in my life!
I want to be a Quadrant II Leader!
I could go on and on, but today, with Covey’s death, I’m just remembering some of the valuable things I learned from him on leadership that has shaped my life and my role.
He will continue to teach many for years to come through his writing, and he will continue to teach me.