CNN LIVE ON LOCATION
Interview with Stephen Covey
Aired January 9, 2003 - 14:37 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Today our focus, like I said, is organization. Focus happens to be a key asset in keeping one's obligations, commitments, and possessions from spinning out of control. But if your focus is fuzzy, your goals a mystery, and your days a chaotic blur, you can still be a highly effective person in 2003.
Just set aside six minutes or so for productivity guru Stephen Covey, who comes to us today from Salt Lake City -- so good to see you, Stephen.
STEPHEN COVEY, VICE CHAIRMAN, FRANKLINCOVEY: Thank you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about our resolutions. I mean, we make them in January, we forget about them by February. What's the problem?
COVEY: Well, most people are basically a victim of the circumstances of their life. They have things like 9/11, they have terrorism threats, they have new war threats, they have economy problems, and they think, What can I do? I'm basically a victim. Where, in fact, we are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals, and our research has demonstrated this.
PHILLIPS: Well -- and you've done so well. I mean, your book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," has been a best seller for years. Where did your inspiration come from? How did you get to be the person you are?
COVEY: Well, basically, I studied the success literature in our country showing that the character ethic, you know, the quality of our character dominated this country for the first about 150 years, and then it gradually shifted into the personality ethic, and people began to be focused on technique and on technology and image rather than fundamental values and principles.
PHILLIPS: Well, let's get right to the e-mails, shall we? Keeping those thoughts in mind, I want to hit as many as we can. Julie from Pennsylvania asks this of you, Stephen.
"I am trying to organize paperwork at home. How long do I keep those old bank statements, water bills, gas bills, et cetera?" I'd like to know that, too.
COVEY: Well, Julie, let me just give a simple illustration with my watch here. This is a normal watch, but underneath it is a compass. The key is to decide what truly is important to you. Focus on that, your values, your goals, and the plans to achieve those goals and then you use your watch in a sense to execute against those values, those plans and those goals, so that most of that stuff you would throw away because they are not congruent with what you have decided are your truly important goals.
PHILLIPS: This one comes to you from Jeff, and he wants to know, "With all that we try to do for our children, a safe home, private schools, college fund, I find myself working more and more. Where is the balance point?"
COVEY: Well, that's an excellent point. Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven't paid the price to decide what is really important to them. They have to focus on four parts of their nature. Their physical or financial to live, their relationships to love, their mind to learn, and their spirit to leave a legacy or to matter. Those are the four basic areas of life and you have to learn to say no to things that are distracting, or that take away from those fundamental things.
PHILLIPS: Oh, that is so true. As a matter of fact, we were talking about that today, my producer and I. My mom made me read that book "How to Say No and Not Feel Guilty." But that's a whole 'nother point.
Here we go. Here is the next question for you.
"Can you make more money and be more successful giving advice by writing self-help books, or by taking advice from those books?"
COVEY: Well, I think that you can be most successful when you decide really what are those most worthy goals you want to go after to focus on them and then execute around them. Regarding what your profession or your work is, I think that that is a personal matter up to the people themselves.
PHILLIPS: All right. Madge wants to know, from Jacksonville, Florida: "Can you please offer some advice to those of us who cursed by the generation that ironed wrapping paper and saved string. We save way to much that we will never revisit, and it has become a huge burden. Help us to be merciless and to go through the things without feeling guilty or remorse."
COVEY: We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice. We are literally the creative force of our own life. And you have to see yourself that way. You're not a product of your nature. That is your genetic makeup or your nurture, the things that have happened to you. Of course those things affect you powerfully, but they do not determine you. You are determined by your choices, and you base those choices based on those goals and the plans to achieve those goals which matter the very most to you.
PHILLIPS: Stephen Covey, thank you for your inspiration today, we appreciate it. COVEY: Thank you so much, Kyra. All the best.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
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