Book Notes by David Mays                See more book notes

CovFirs 97-4-25



Stephen R. Covey

Simon & Schuster, 1994, 346 pp.


“Fourth generation time management” goes beyond check lists, planning ad preparation, prioritizing and controlling.  It’s a principle-centered approach based on “Quadrant II” thinking, building your life around what’s truly important.


While we control our choices we don’t control the consequences of those choices: principles do.  A meaningful life is not primarily a matter of speed or efficiency.  (12)


The book examines

-        your missions – what gives meaning and purpose to your life

-        how to create balance and synergy among the roles in your life

-        how to set and achieve principle-based goals that create quality of life results

-        how to maintain a perspecdtive that empowers you to keep first things first

-        how to act with integrity in the moment of choice

-        how to turn your weeks into an upward spiral of learning and living (13


The Compass and the Clock.

The compass represents direction – what’s really important in life – how to lead your life.

e.g. vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction.

The clock represents how fast you’re going – how you’re spending your time – managing

e.g. commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities.


For many of us there is a gap between the compass and the clock, between what’s really important to us and how we spend out time.  The problem isn’t how much we’re getting done but where we’re trying to go.


Paradigms are the maps of our minds and hearts out of which our attitudes and behaviors and the results in our lives grow, our mental maps.  The way we see leads to what we do and what we do leads to the results we get in our lives. (28)


The four quadrants:

       I      important/urgent            II     important/not urgent

       III    not important/urgent       IV    not important/not urgent


Three fundamental concepts of the book:

1.      Four human needs and capacities:  to live (physical), to love (social) to learn (mental), to leave a legacy (spiritual)

2.      “True north” principles – external reality and universal laws

3.      The four human endowments:
Self – awareness – ability to examine our thinking, motives, scripts, etc.
Conscience – our internal guidance system
Independent will – our capacity to act, to transcend our paradigms, rewrite scripts
Creative imagination – ability to visualize ourselves living our mission


For a full eleven pages of notes see winword\inwes\covery.doc