“The only place to get time for Quadrant II in the beginning is from Quadrant III and IV. You can’t ignore the urgent and important activities of Quadrant I, although it will shrink in size as you spend more time with prevention and preparation in Quadrant II.
You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II because Quadrants I and III work on you. To say ‘yes’ to important Quadrant II priorities, you have to learn to say “no” to other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things.
We say “yes” or “no” to things daily, usually many times a day. A center of correct principles and a focus on our personal mission empowers us with wisdom to make those judgments effectively.
As I work with different groups, I tell them that the essence of effective time and life management is to organize and execute around balanced priorities. Then I ask this question: if you were to fault yourself in one of three areas, which would it be: (1) the inability to prioritize; (2) the inability or desire to organize around those priorities; or (3) the lack of discipline to execute around them, to stay with your priorities and organization?
Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds. They haven’t really internalized Habit 2.
There are many people who recognize the value of Quadrant II activities in their lives, whether they identify them as such or not. And they attempt to give priority to those activities and integrate them into their lives through self-discipline alone. But without a principle center and a personal mission statement, then don’t have the necessary foundation to sustain their efforts.
A Quadrant II focus is a paradigm that grows out of a principle center. If you are centered on your spouse, your money, your friends, your pleasure, or any extrinsic factor, you will keep getting thrown back into Quadrants I, and III reacting to the outside forces your life is centered on.
In the words of the architectural maxim, form follows function. Likewise, management follows leadership. The way you spend time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities. If your priorities grow out of a principle center and a personal mission, if they are deeply planted in your heart and in your mind, you will see Quadrant II as a natural, exciting place to invest your time.
It’s as almost impossible to say “no” to the popularity of Quadrant III or to the pleasure of escape to Quadrant IV if you don’t have a bigger “yes” burning inside. Only when you have the self-awareness to examine your program—and the imagination and conscience to create a new, unique, principle-centered program to which you can say “yes”—only then will you have sufficient independent will power to say “no,” with a genuine smile, to the unimportant.”
Briefly, many manager-types think a title gives them special privileges, and they turn from human to sub-human. Instead of being self-aware enough to use their imagination and conscience to create a principle-centered program, they become highly ineffective.
As Covey states it, “Management follows LEADERSHIP.”
“Leaders are like eagles; they don’t flock; you find them one at a time”
Next: Habit 3
Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
Moving Into Quadrant II