Stephen Covey’s Favorite Quotation

This week, I had the pleasure of hearing Chris McChesney give a fantastic keynote on his book, The Four Disciplines of Execution (which is discussed in Doers 017 with Joshua Fischer),  at the State Policy Network Annual Meeting. McChesney is one of the intellectual successors to Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey’s book is a staple item I recommend to anybody interested in introspection and bettering themselves. While his habits may appear to be old-fashioned, they are the bedrock of getting ahead. If your foundation is faulty, you can’t build a house.

At the end of his talk, Chris flashed a quick slide from George Bernard Shaw that was Covey’s favorite quotation.

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“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw

This made me think:

What would it mean for you to be thoroughly used up when you die? What is the end (or set of ends) towards which you want to craft your life? If you got to read a biography of yourself after you died, how would you like the second half to look?

Stephen Covey’s Favorite Quotation