Dr Stephen Covey – Part 2 – Balance

Let me kick off with the last piece of advice from Covey on the show: “I just really think there is such tremendous, almost unbelievable potential here. If I were to give a person advice I would say realize you have four parts to your nature – for your body, assume you have had a heart attack now exercise and eat accordingly; for your mind assume the half-life of your profession is two to three years, now prepare accordingly; for your heart assume that everything that is said about another person they can hear, now speak accordingly; for your spirit assume you have a one on one visit with your creator every three months, now live accordingly.”

I thought this advice was very profound! It really touches on the much spoken principle of balance! This past week I had to cancel a meeting with a dynamic leader in the business community who has incredible potential going into the future. Although this leader is already successful she is far from where she will end up if her career trajectory continues as it has.

We had to cancel because she wasn’t well, physically. So we communicated briefly via email, sparked by my challenge for her to switch off the laptop and watch a DVD. She responded by encouraging me to get my mentoring panels to share advice around executive pressure, stress management, and so on. She felt really strongly about this, to the point that it will be, or perhaps is already the number one killer of human beings as a compromiser of our immune systems.

My response: “Wow, are you right! In fact our country environment makes these sorts of discussions and needs more relevant! I have these things on my mind so much – what to do to support, strengthen, educate, develop leaders for the current conditions rather than academically only! You have such great potential so look after yourself! Don’t be sucked into a lifestyle that does not add value to your future potential!”

Is this interaction relevant in your life? Be honest! Go back to Covey’s advice and objectively ask yourself which one or more of those four parts of your nature are being neglected and then work on a simple strategy to stop being sucked into a lifestyle that robs you of your real and future potential!

Of course I asked Covey how he balances his life as he loves his family, travels a lot and teaches all these great principles. He mentioned that the key for him is long range planning: “I literally plan two to three years ahead. So, I always put family first; schedule those significant family events, family vacations, family times around the holidays, and so on…I very seldom will interrupt that. The kids know it and if they call the office they get right in…Nothing is more important than the family. So, I teach this idea and I try to live by it.” His wife sometimes asks him why he still goes on so many trips and his answer: “Well, I have a mission to serve these people and it is very important…”

What was his advice to a busy executive who feels that his/her schedule is overwhelming? “I just ask what percentage of the time do they spend doing things that are urgent but not important. Then they pause, reflect and almost everyone would say, almost half my time. I then say learn to say no to those things…”

“Literally, most of the stuff we deal with is proximate, it’s popular, it’s pressing, it’s pleasant, but it is not important. Most people know that and they will admit it. Some people who say they have life balance issues, to me it is a big cop out. They just haven’t learned to say no to the unimportant, no matter how urgent it may be! Now if it is both urgent and important, that’s different. But if it really is not important, say no! If it makes some people feel a little unhappy, you can smile about that, because what matters is making significant differences on that which is important.”

I asked him how he stayed humble, with his feet on the ground, bearing in mind that some reputable publications list him as one of the top 25 most influential people in America: “Basically, I prayerfully ponder the scriptures every day. I believe in God and Christ as the Savior and that’s where I get my humility, if I have it. Also, my wife keeps me humble – she levels, gives me feedback, as do my kids…I also believe humility is the mother of all virtues and I think courage is the father. You recognize that these principles have the source of power and God as the source of those principles – who are you but just a teacher of what someone else really developed.”

I have met some that are not fans of Covey because of this and that, which is difficult to avoid if you are such a prominent leader. But, as I looked into his deep blue eyes I knew he is a good man, really trying to make a difference out there.

This article was featured in the:

The Workplace

Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on adriaan@leadershipplatform.com for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation.




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

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