Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Covey’

A lot of people wrestle with the big questions in life.


  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?


For many, these questions haunt them.


Not long ago, I created an exercise designed to address these questions in a simple way that provides some of the answers that people and businesses search for.


As you probably realize by now, I collect quotes. I have a treasure trove of hundreds of them.


One day while reading through them, I realized that the picture they paint is a snapshot of who I am – my philosophies; what matters to me; what radiates from the core of my soul. The quotes painted a picture of what most resonates with me and how I live my life.


Once I identified this, I realized quotes provide a valuable tool for the work I do. If I asked my clients to pick their Top 10 favorite quotes, I would have a quick and easy snapshot of who they are, how they think, and their approach to life.


So, if you are still wondering about your answers to the big questions in life, why not compile a list of your Top 10 favorite quotes and see who and what emerges.


If you want a head start, here are two of my favorite sites for quotes –




Brainy Quote


There are no small quotes about the big questions in life.

– Rich Largman


There is tremendous value to knowing who you are and answering the big questions in your life. The answers serve as your North Star. They will guide you in your decisions and actions, they will shine a light on your path, they will give you direction, and they will provide never-ending clarity and certainty in your life.


One of the most powerful tools I used in the process to define and answer the big questions for myself was a personal mission statement exercise designed by the Covey Leadership Center. If you would like to define your own North Star using this clear and succinct tool, you can download the exercises here: YOUR answers to the Big Questions.


Trust me, it is worth the investment of your time!!!



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If you are not single, chances are you missed the valuable lesson OkCupid has to teach everyone. OkCupid is one of the numerous popular dating sites on the Internet, and it does something the other dating sites do not. Trust me, I know. I have been on them all.


OkCupid has thousands of questions their members can answer. They fall into 6 categories – ethics, sex, religion, dating, lifestyle and other. The more questions you answer, the better your suggested matches will be.


Why is this important and how does it apply to you . . . even if you are not single?


These questions paint the context around each person. Of course, like every other dating site you can see a person’s photos, read their profile and see their basic stats; but that is just a shell. To get a true understanding of the person – how they think, what they believe and your potential compatibility – you have to look at their answers to the questions. Their responses connect the dots and fill in the shell created by their photos, stats and profile.


To fully understand someone, or a situation for that matter, understanding context is vital. Context is the little details that form the world around us; like the atoms that comprise every object or the threads that are woven together to make our clothes. By themselves they seem insignificant and nondescript, but when taken together and seen in the big picture, they form our world.


Sadly, today’s society is not built for context. 140 character tweets, short emails, even shorter texts, Facebook updates, etc. None of these “drive-by” communications is sufficient enough to create context. As a result, misunderstandings, miscommunication, bad decision making and unnecessary drama is on the rise.


And therein lies the challenge.


Understanding context takes time and patience. Whether it is a few extra minutes to ask a few more questions or a few extra days to deeply understand, either way, you have to give time and must have patience to allow context to emerge. And in today’s ridiculously fast-paced society, that is a luxury few people are willing to afford. We would rather take the short-cut or simply skip some steps in order to get to the end.


The thing is, context is like the water in a fish bowl. It surrounds and pervades the fish’s life, yet, it goes undetected by the fish because it is everywhere. Kinda like air for us humans. We don’t think about it very much or notice it. We just exist within it. Yet, without it, we would die.


Without taking the time to distinguish and understand the context of a situation, you may not die, but I promise you, in some way your experience will be more painful.


Context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything.

– Kenneth Noland


One of the best ways to improve your life and relationships, and eliminate misunderstandings, miscommunications and bad decisions, is to take the time to understand context. Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said it best – seek first to understand, then be understood.


This small action will dramatically change most relationships in your life, whether they are personal or business. The simple trick to achieving this change is to listen more, talk less, and take the time to ask more questions.


Read how this applies to your business here.
And for those singles out there, if you want some dating tips and help from one of the world’s most famous villains, be sure to check out this fun video!


(To see a great demonstration of context, click here!)


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We Americans sure do love to work. We wear our toil like a badge of honor. I imagine we can thank the Pilgrims for that. The Puritan work ethic they brought with them on the Mayflower has created a country of workaholics who define themselves by the work they do.

That is great if what you are doing is what you love and is an extension of who you are. But for most Americans that is probably not the case. They are working to survive rather than have their work be an expression of who they are and what they are passionate about.

If only the Puritans left their work ethic in England and sought work freedoms along with religious freedoms. But alas, here we are; constantly ranked among the Top 10 hard working countries in the world taking little or no vacation time. We work more and more hours each week and statistics point to us becoming more efficient and productive. But doesn’t that mean we should be working less hours not more?

Well, here’s a secret to propel your work to the next level and truly boost your efficiency, productivity and happiness at work —

Take a vacation!

As much as we might hate to admit it, our bodies are not that much different from machines. And with any machine, if you do not perform regular maintenance on it, it will break down.

Stephen Covey, the leadership guru and author of Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, refers to this concept as “sharpening the saw”. Essentially, he points out that if we take the time to sharpen our saw, we can cut a lot more wood. If we don’t take that time, then the teeth of the saw will get dull and have little or no effect in the cutting process, thus forcing us to work harder.

So, as contradictory as this may sound, if you want to get ahead of your colleagues and business competition, take a vacation! Refresh yourself, your ideas, and your perspective. I have no doubt that in doing so, you will find that when you return the quality and efficiency of your work will improve.

Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.

                                           – Margaret Fuller

Perhaps the most important thing you can do this summer is take a vacation . . . or engage in any other activity that will refresh your soul and sharpen your saw. That may be making time for regular exercise. Or spending time with family. Or reading. Or watching movies.

Whatever it is, be sure to make the time during these fleeting moments of summer to do the one or two things that just light you up and fill your soul with joy. The return on investment will be 10 times that of any additional time you might spend at the office working.

If you want to see how overworked we are compared to the rest of the world, check out this site: We Love to Work!

Photo credit: Malcom Fitzgerald

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I’ve been a big fan of Stephen Covey for quite some time now – just over 10 years.  Mission statements, goals that serve that mission statement, putting first things first, 7 habits, and more.  I religiously set and reviewed my goals every year to ensure that I was heading in the direction of my dreams.  Career goals, number of clients, how much money I wanted to make, how often I wanted to exercise, how many dates to go on to find the right relationship . . . blah, blah, blah.  They all appeared to serve my life and support my desires phenomenally well.


That is until I realized that my life wasn’t working.  Something was drastically missing.


It all sounded and looked good, but the reality was 8 years ago when I once again embarked on the robotic misadventure to set my annual goals, my soul screamed at me.  “This isn’t working! Why do you keep doing this!  You are not happy and this is not giving you what your soul truly craves.”  I was a bit shocked at the truth of this revelation, but the tears running down my face, and the frustration I felt throughout my body told me that my soul was right.


So I took a deep breath, sat quietly, and just listened.  What happened next was truly magical. 


Intention showed up.


The Power of Flow

There is a subtle, yet dramatic distinction between goals and intentions.  It is a distinction so powerful that it gave me my life, yet in that moment it seemed as though all that was, suddenly vanished.  Career, number of clients, financial goals.  Gone.   Exercising 3 times a week, yoga, number of dates.  Gone.  It was all gone with the exception of one simple statement.  A theme.  “Fun, Faith, & Surrender.  Feel rather than think.  Believe rather than question.”   


My goals no longer fell under the typical categories of career, financial, lifestyle, and relationships, but rather the more esoteric, indefinable intentions titled spiritual, play, and connection.  I felt as though my life was truly turned on its head.  Structure disappeared, and in its place magic showed up.  The next two years for me were nothing short of amazing.  In some ways, I would even say unbelievable.  I began to fulfill all my desires and a destiny I felt since I was a child. 


None of this is that surprising when one considers this simple formula:


Intention + Attention = Miracles


Hold an intention in your heart, give it some focus and attention, then watch the miracles appear.  And that is what started showing up in my life.  Miracle after amazing miracle – each more powerful than the one before it.


As I distinguish it, a key difference between a goal and an intention is attachment.   With goals, there is a basic belief that there is a logical path to follow, perhaps even a path that must be followed, if you are to get from point A to point B.  In order to achieve X, I must do Y.  Don’t get me wrong, to a large extent that works.  It just doesn’t allow for the power of “flow” to show up – that mysterious energy that seems to oil all your efforts with a sense of ease as it brings you all you desire.  With goals, we tend to be obsessed with following the steps and being in control in order to make things happen.  Never have I known obsession or control to lead to a joyful life.


With an intention however, that rigidly defined path disappears and is replaced by a sense of freedom and endless possibility.  With intentions, you simply declare for yourself what it is you wish to create in your life, hold it in your heart and consciousness, and then let go and allow for the path to emerge.  The great thing about this approach is that it allows for many more options to show up in your life, any one of which may lead you to the result you desire.


There is No Room for Judgement

Another key distinction between goals and intentions is that intentions eliminate judgment.  With goals, we tend to set milestones and constantly measure and judge ourselves against them.  If we meet them, we are successful.  If we don’t, we are a failure.  It’s hard enough that others judge us, and that we measure ourselves based on what our peers are doing.  Do we really need to add the pressure of judging against ourselves? 


All this judgment eliminates the ability to be in flow; to connect with the Universe and allow the miracles to show up.


With intention, there is no judgment, just inquiry.  At the end of the year I ask myself 3 simple questions.

1)  Did my intention come to fruition?

2)  If not, I seek to understand why.  How did the intention serve me?  How did it not?

3)  Do I want to carry any part of that intention forward into the next year?


Without fail, I find that not only is my intention fulfilled, but due to the free, unattached, and non-judgmental approach I take, I always seem to achieve something I desired even more in my life, but did not know it at the time.  Something of which I wasn’t even aware I longed for.  And it is usually that hidden accomplishment that satisfies my heart, soul, and life more than anything I could have ever imagined.

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I have lived my life preaching the moment.  Mostly because so many of us don’t live there.  Typically, we either worry about our future or regret our past, both of which take us out of the moment.  Life occurs only in the now, which is why I have spent the last 10 years of my life helping people be present to it.


But something is missing from the “now” when it exists in a vacuum.  When one lives their life only from moment to moment or day to day it is not purpose driven.  The “now”, when isolated by itself or lived only for itself, floats aimlessly.  It weakens that infinite power we humans possess called intention – that ability to create what we desire in our lives.


It is hard for many to step into the potent space of intention.  It reeks of responsibility and self-determined destiny.  To fully own this power of intention, we must stand in our legacy and reach back to the moment.  Legacy thinking inspires us to ask, “What do I want to be known for?  How do I want to be remembered?  What impact do I wish to have in this world and with my loved ones?”  Standing in that place, the view of the moment becomes clear and powerful.  It becomes directed and purposeful, and you can suddenly see how each moment and choice in your life is tied to the next.  To live without that clarity is analogous to traveling to an unknown destination without a map, compass or GPS system.


The great thing about this perspective is that the true choice is not whether to live in the moment OR from the legacy, but rather both.  Live in the moment FROM the legacy.  We must stand in the vibrant aliveness of today, and live in it powered by that vision of, and commitment to, the future we wish to create for ourselves.  Doing so suddenly puts each moment in perspective for us.  It provides a guide from which to choose how we wish to live our lives, how we interact with people on a daily basis and how we respond to the challenges of every day.  The legacy serves as a guide for us and all our choices and starts to give life greater meaning.


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

                                                                                                                                   –          Ralph Waldo Emerson


Your legacy is something that lies within you.  It is a destiny that is waiting to be born.  Coaching can help generate clarity about what is inside you.  Who you really are, how you want ot live your life and what you want to be known for.  Coaching can help you understand what you want your legacy to be and chart a course toward that future.  If you would like to define your legacy, send me an email at rich@empireofhope.com and I will send you an excellent exercise designed by Stephen Covey to help you begin to define it.


If you don’t have a compass, don’t forget your bread crumbs!

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