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Habit 2 — Begin With the End in Mind

All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.

Habit 2 is about creation—the creation of your life the way you want it to be. It’s based on having a strong vision, so that the steps and actions you take in your life are purposeful and continually guided by this vision. Ultimately, it allows and enables you to live a life of purpose, a life of your own design.

It’s all too easy in this day and age to be very busy with activity. Covey uses the analogy of being busy with climbing a ladder only to find at some point in your life that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. When you know what is really important to you and keep that picture in mind, you manage yourself each day to be and do what matters most. True effectiveness comes from beginning with the end in mind.

To begin with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice: a mental, or first, creation and a physical, or second, creation. For example, when you build a home, the plans come first, then the actual dream home. Without the plans, there might be regular changes during the building process, which could potentially be very expensive. And so the first creation is very important. The same could be said for planning a garden design, a trip, or a speech. If we don’t design our lives, other people and circumstances will, which is a choice between being proactive or reactive.

Habit 2 is based on your leadership of your own life, which is what is needed to form a strong vision. Management is then what is needed for the second creation of actually bringing that vision to life (covered in habit 3). Leadership comes first. Covey says “In the words of Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” and then Covey goes on to say “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Actions to take