Farewell Stephen Covey

Author Stephen Covey died last month, age 79 (from complications arising from a bicycle accident!).  The best known of his books is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, but I first met him between the covers of “First Things First”, co-written with A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill  (Habit #3 is about putting first things first)

“First Things First” was one of the beginning steps on my journey into  coaching for positive sustainability and regenerative business.  His recent book “The 3rd Alternative” is another that I go back to for developing win/win/win solutions that are not “my way” or “your way” but “our way“.

Today, though, I want to offer thanks for a simple distinction that has had a profound impact on my life and which has been an “ah hah” moment for just about all of my coaching clients – the difference between Urgent and Important.


His simple 4-quadrant diagram which puts the focus on where our time goes and how well we use it has been truly powerful.   Thanks to it I can now ask:

  • * Is this”must do” actually important to me, or am I being hijacked by someone else’s urgency?
  • * Did this crisis arise because I’ve been neglecting something important that didn’t seem urgent?
  • * How can I improve my efficiency by doing important, non-urgent things early?
  • * Am I hiding from important issues inside activities that make me feel good are neither urgent or important for my success?

So for myself, and on behalf of those of my clients who have benefited from this insight:

“Farewell Mr Covey – many thanks”

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About Leigh


Leigh is the principal of the business innovation practice Balance3 and her clients have included corporations such as Amcor, National Foods, Dair, SPC Ardmona, Kobelco, Corporate Express and New Balance as well as a range of smaller businesses and individual clients.