200 Stephen Covey Quotes on Building Good Habits

If you need help defining your life’s mission, then these Stephen Covey quotes may help you figure things out.

As a best-selling non-fiction author, he was able to leave a legacy of leadership and success in the world.

Stephen Covey was recognized the most through his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and this collection features 200 quotes from it as well as many others—focusing on lessons about habits, relationships, and perspectives.

Read the full list below.

And don’t forget to check out these Robert Kiyosaki quotes and Norman Vincent Peale quotes.

Best Stephen Covey Quotes

Stephen Covey Quotes - Start with the end in mind.

1. “Start with the end in mind.”

2. “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.”

3. “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically—to say ‘no’ to other things.”

4. “Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet, both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.

5. “It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

6. “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

7. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

8. “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

9. “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control of—myself.”

10. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

11. “To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

12. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

13. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

14. “The enemy of the best is often the good.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent.

15. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

16. “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

17. “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it.”

18. “To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

19. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Character, Virtue, and Habits

Stephen Covey Quotes - We are free to choose our actions.

20. “We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”

21. “Habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.”

22. “There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.”

23. “Humility is the mother of all virtues because humility acknowledges that there are natural laws or principles that govern the universe.”

24. “Wisdom is the child of integrity being integrated around principles.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Integrity is the child of humility and courage.

25. “Integrity is the child of humility and courage.”

26. “Pride teaches us that we are in charge.”

27. “Humility teaches us to understand and live by principles, because they ultimately govern the consequences of our actions.”

28. “If humility is the mother, courage is the father of wisdom.”

29. “People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind—mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart—the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.

30. “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.”

31. “Courage isn’t absence of fear, it is the awareness that something else is important.”

32. “There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.”

33. “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

34. “Independent will is our capacity to act.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.

35. “The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.”

36. “Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it immediately.”

37. “The core of any family is what is changeless—what is going to be there are shared vision and values.”

38. “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

39. “Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Motivation is a fire from within.

40. “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

41. “Self-awareness enables us to stand apart and examine even the way we see ourselves—our self-paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness.”

42. “In the space between stimulus and how we respond, lies our freedom to choose.”

43. “We may have limited choices, but we can always choose. We can choose our thoughts, emotions, moods, our words, our actions; we can choose our values and live by principles. It is the choice of acting or being acted upon.”

44. “Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Be patient with yourself.

45. “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”

46. “You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.”

47. “We can’t live without eating, but we don’t live to eat.”

48. “Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth—a knowledge of things as they are.”

49. “Perhaps a sense of possessing needs to come before a sense of genuine sharing.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - you have the foundation of a highly proactive and highly effective life.

50. “Because you have a high degree of security, guidance, wisdom, and power that flows from a solid, unchanging core, you have the foundation of a highly proactive and highly effective life.”

51. “Happiness—in part, at least— is the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want for what we want eventually.”

52. “I believe that there are parts to human nature that cannot be reached by either legislation or education, but require the power of God to deal with.”

53. “When man created the mirror, he began to lose his soul. He became more concerned with his image than with himself.”

54. “Remember, it isn’t the snake bite that does the serious damage; it’s chasing the snake that drives the poison to the heart.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Frustration is a function of our expectations.

55. “Frustration is a function of our expectations, and our expectations are often a reflection of the social mirror rather than our own values & priorities.”

56. “Consequences are governed by principles, and behavior is governed by values; therefore, value principles!”

57. “Self awareness gives us ultimate human freedom.”

58. “Seek and merit divine help.”

59. “Never compromise with honesty.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Because their identity and sense of self-worth are wrapped up in their work, their security is vulnerable to anything.

60. “Because their identity and sense of self-worth are wrapped up in their work, their security is vulnerable to anything that happens to prevent them from continuing in it.”

61. “If my sense of security lies in my reputation or in the things I have, my life will be in a constant state of threat and jeopardy that these possessions may be lost or stolen or devalued.”

62. “My mission is to live with integrity and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

63 “A moment of choice is a moment of truth. It’s the testing point of our character and competence.”

64. “That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - There is no effectiveness without discipline, and there is no discipline without character.

65. “There is no effectiveness without discipline, and there is no discipline without character.”

66. “Doing the right things, for the right reason, in the right way, is the key to quality of life!”

67. “Animals do not possess this ability. We call it ‘self-awareness’ or the ability to think about your very thought process.”

68. “Urgency addiction is a self-destructive behavior that temporarily fills the void created by unmet needs.”

69. “Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.”

Stephen Covey Quotes About Natural Laws

70. “The more closely our maps or paradigms are aligned with these principles or natural laws, the more accurate and functional they will be.”

71. “Responsibility—‘response-ability’—the ability to choose your response.”

72. “When we talk about time management, it seems ridiculous to worry about speed before direction—about saving minutes when we may be wasting years.”

73. “Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits.”

74. “Principles are the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Love and Relationships

Stephen Covey Quotes - A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step.

75. “A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step, and can only be taken one step at a time.”

76. “Love is a verb. Love—the feeling—is the fruit of love, the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.”

77. “Live, love, laugh—leave a legacy.”

78. “Proactive people make love a verb.”

79. “Love is something you do—the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Love

80. “Love—the feeling—can be recaptured.”

81. “What we believe about ourselves and our purpose has a powerful impact on how we live, how we love, and what we learn.”

82. “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.”

83. “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

84. “Sincere apologies make deposits; repeated apologies interpreted as insincere, make withdrawals; and the quality of the relationship reflects it.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many.

85. “How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.”

86. “How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us; and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.”

87. “I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.”

88. “Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.”

89. “If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, emphatic, consistent, loving parent.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Words are like eggs dropped from great heights.

90. “Words are like eggs dropped from great heights. You could no more call them back then ignore the mess they left when they fell.”

91. “Treat them all the same by treating them differently.”

92. “People have character strength, but they lack communication skills; and that undoubtedly affects the quality of relationships as well.”

93. “Make small commitments and keep them.”

94. “We hear a lot about identity theft when someone takes your wallet and pretends to be you and uses your credit cards, but the more serious identity theft is to get swallowed up in other people’s definition of you.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Effective leadership is putting first things first.

95. “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline—carrying it out.”

96. “We are not our feelings. We are not our moods. We are not even our thoughts.”

97. “People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.”

98. “If we do not teach our children, society will. And they—and we—will live with the results.”

99. “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.

100. “To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.”

101. “Leadership is communicating others’ worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”

102. “Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.”

103. “When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them.”

104. “Being is seeing in the human dimension.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - You can buy a person's hand, but you can't buy his heart.

105. “You can buy a person’s hand, but you can’t buy his heart. His heart is where his enthusiasm—his loyalty is. You can buy his back, but you can’t buy his brain. That’s where his creativity is—his ingenuity, his resourcefulness.”

106. “People who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves—who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.”

107. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

108. “When all you want is a person’s body and you don’t really want their mind, heart, or spirit, you have reduced a person to a thing.”

109. “The reflection of the current social paradigm tells us we are largely determined by conditioning and conditions.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.

110. “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.”

111. “Don’t compromise when you can synergize.”

112. “A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

113. “People become reinforced in the paradigm that they are determined, and they produce evidence to support the belief.”

114. “It is character that communicates most eloquently. In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles.

115. “Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles; ineffective people attempt to manage their time around priorities and their tasks around goals.”

116. “Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation.”

117. “What is most personal, is most general.”

118. “Involve people in the problem and work out the solution together.”

119. “Interdependence is a far more mature, more advanced concept.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Accepting People

120. “By accepting people, you’re not condoning their weakness or agreeing with their opinion; you’re simply affirming their intrinsic worth.”

121. “Many people seem to think that success in one area can compensate for failure in other areas. But can it really? True effectiveness requires balance.”

122. “Listen twice as much as you speak.”

123. “The more people are into quick fixes, and focus on the acute problems and pain, the more that very approach contributes to the underlying chronic condition.”

124. “What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did it on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life?”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Educating the Heart

125. “Educating the heart is the critical complement to educating the mind.”

126. “You can’t be successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself.”

127. “The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are.”

128. “What you alone can contribute, no one else can contribute.”

129. “Search your own heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Engaging in a Work

130. “When you engage in a work that taps your talent and fuels your passion—that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet—therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.”

131. “In relationships, the little things are the big things.”

132. “There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.”

133. “Unless there are good feelings between people, reasoning intelligently is almost impossible.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Perspective and Points of View

134. “To learn and not to do, is really not to learn. To know and not to do, is really not to know.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it.

135. “It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it.”

136. “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.”

137. “The way we see the problem is the problem.”

138. “At some time in your life, you probably had someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself.”

139. “You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.”

Stephen Covey Quotes on Imagination

140. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

141. “Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential.”

142. “Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

143. “As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.”

144. “Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - People simply feel better about themselves when they're good at something.

145. “People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.”

146. “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

147. “People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.”

148. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

149. “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - When air is charged with emotions, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection.

150. “When air is charged with emotions, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection.”

151. “The only person I know, is the person I want to be.”

152. “As long as you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”

153. “Where we stand depends on where we sit.”

154. “Each of us tends to think we see things as they are—that we are objective. But this is not the case.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - I think the most significant work we'll do in our whole life is done within the four walls of our home.

155. “I think the most significant work we’ll do in our whole life, in our whole world, is done within the four walls of our home.”

156. “The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read.”

157. “Attending church does not necessarily mean living the principles taught in those meetings. You can be active in a church but inactive in its gospel.”

158. “Borrowing strength builds weakness.”

159. “We’re responsible for our own lives.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Through imagination, we can visualize the uncredited worlds of potential that lie within us.

160. “Through imagination, we can visualize the uncredited worlds of potential that lie within us.”

161. “It’s sometimes a painful process. It’s a change that has to be motivated by a higher purpose, by the willingness to subordinate what you think you want now for what you want later.”

162. “All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem.”

163. “The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value.”

164. “Churchgoing is not synonymous with personal spirituality.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - If you don't let a teacher know what level you are you will not learn or grow.

165. “If you don’t let a teacher know what level you are—by asking a question or revealing your ignorance—you will not learn or grow.”

166. “The way we see things is the source of the way we think or the way we act.”

167. “If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.”

168. “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

169. “You have to water the flowers you want to grow.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - because you see things differently, you think differently, you act differently.

170. “As a principle-centered person, you see things differently; and because you see things differently, you think differently, you act differently.”

171. “Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players.”

172. “Hear both sides before judging.”

173. “Be sincere yet decisive.”

174. “Do not fear mistakes—fear only the absence of creative, constructive, and corrective responses to those mistakes.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Concentrate all abilities and efforts on the task at hand, not worrying about the next job or promotion.

175. “Concentrate all abilities and efforts on the task at hand, not worrying about the next job or promotion.”

176. “Writing distills, crystallizes, and clarifies thought and helps break the whole into parts.”

177. “Think effectiveness with people; efficiency with things.”

178. “We could spend weeks, months, even years laboring with the personality ethic trying to change our attitudes and behaviors, and not even begin to approach the phenomenon of change that occurs spontaneously when we see things differently.”

179. “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - It's not enough to value. The <a href=effort has to be based on practical realities that produce the result.” class=”wp-image-14263″/>

180. “It’s not enough to dream. It’s not enough to try. It’s not enough to set goals or climb ladders. It’s not enough to value. The effort has to be based on practical realities that produce the result. Only then can we dream, set goals, and work to achieve them with confidence.”

181. “Your attitude determines your altitude.”

182. “Best way to predict your future is to create it.”

183. “Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.”

184. “This power of choice means that we are not merely a product of our past or of our genes; we are not a product of how other people treat us. They unquestionably influence us, but they do not determine us. We are self-determining through our choices. If we have given away our present to the past, do we need to give away our future also?”

Stephen Covey Quotes - If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.

185. “If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.”

186. “It is that a meaningful life is not a matter of speed or efficiency. It’s much more a matter of what you do and why you do it, than how fast you get it done.”

187. “You’re a transition person—a link between the past and future, and your own change can affect many, many lives downstream.”

188. “While we must learn from good examples and always keep in mind the bigger goal, we must compare ourselves only with ourselves. We can’t focus or base our happiness on another’s progress; we can focus only on our own.”

189. “It is the picture of where you want to end up—that is, your destination is the values you want to live your life by. Even if you are off course much or most of the time, but still hang on to your sense of hope and your vision, you will eventually arrive at your destination.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile.

190. “Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile.”

191. “No matter how long we’ve walked life’s pathway to mediocrity, we can always choose to switch paths. Always. It’s never too late. We can find our voice.”

192. “It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the thick of thin things.”

193. “What lies behind us is nothing compared to what lies within us and ahead of us.”

194. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Stephen Covey Quotes - It is possible to be busy - very busy - without being very effective.

195. “It is possible to be busy—very busy—without being very effective.”

196. “Whatever you can do or dream, begin it! For boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

197. “It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law.”

198. “Life is a mission and not a career.”

199. “How many people on their deathbed wish they’d spent more time at the office?”

Stephen Covey Quotes - The thing I learned is that you don't invent your mission, you detect it.

200. “The thing I learned is that you don’t invent your mission, you detect it. You uncover it as it were.”

Did These Quotes From Stephen Covey Make You Want to Better Your Habits?

Reaching the top is never easy—one has to work hard for it. According to Stephen Covey, what’s important is that we learn to work with others, have mastery over ourselves, and strive to have a sustainable lifestyle where we’re able to recharge and refresh ourselves. Through these things, we’ll be able to recognize the abundance we have in ourselves and in turn be able to share our resources and success with others.

What do you think of Stephen Covey’s ideals? Are there any quotes that hit home for you? Let’s discuss your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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