Stephen Covey: Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

Half of us spend time on urgent things—and not important things. It's like an urgency addiction: We need what we're doing to be pressing, or we feel guilty about it. But to succeed at change, you must become the creating force of your own life. That means instead of focusing on the urgent thing—it acts on you—you must focus on the important thing and making it happen—you act on it.

One habit that gets in the way of success is the victim mentality. I worked with Viktor Frankl, a Nazi prison camp survivor, for many years. His initial response at the hands of his captors was, Why do I have to suffer so? But later he began to change the question to, What is life asking of me? Each time he started to feel himself the victim, he would find someone suffering more and give half his meager rations to the person. His mantra became, "He who has a 'why' can live with any 'what' or live with any 'how.'"

I phoned Viktor before he passed away and told him how grateful I was for his life's work. He said, "Stephen, you talk to me as if I'm checking out." He was in the intensive care unit. He was blind. His wife was reading to him five hours a day. And yet he said he had two more projects he was trying to finish up.

Even if you feel like a victim of your circumstances and have no formal authority, try to create your own moral authority. Show that you have personal courage.


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