Primary Greatness | Stephen R. Covey

Summary of: Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success
By: Stephen R. Covey


Welcome to our summary of ‘Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success’ by Stephen R. Covey. In this book, Covey redefines our notion of success and urges readers to pursue primary greatness, which is characterized by inner qualities that lead to fulfillment and inner peace. Through an exploration of 12 principles known as the levers of success, we will learn how to achieve integrity, contribution, priority, and other essential traits that fortify primary greatness. Drawing on various real-life examples and studies, Covey provides actionable insights that will help you develop your character and redefine success in a meaningful way.

Achieving True Success

Success is often associated with symbols of wealth, but true success cannot be seen and comes from within. Primary greatness, which is driven by admirable qualities such as integrity and selflessness, leads to fulfillment and inner peace. In contrast, secondary greatness is built on the appearance of success and leads to fleeting pleasures and financial security. It is possible to develop primary greatness and foster character traits like integrity and persistence. The 12 levers of success, including integrity, contribution, and learning, serve as the foundation for primary greatness and can be cultivated through personal sacrifice, service, and responsibility. The Perry Preschool Project in Michigan showed that those who learned to delay gratification and develop primary greatness at an early age were more successful later in life. The key to achieving true success is to focus on developing primary greatness and using the 12 levers of success as a guide.

Manifesting Primary Greatness

Acquiring primary greatness guarantees a sense of fulfillment, inner peace, and long-lasting prosperity. The road to this destination involves self-affirmation, a positive outlook, and shifting from a scarcity to an abundance mindset. Self-affirmation involves positive messages you deliver to yourself in the present tense, nudging you towards making your aspirations a reality. A relaxed body is more receptive to affirmations, so the first step involves letting go of stress. Consistency in reciting self-affirmations increases their effectiveness. The second technique involves shifting from a scarcity to an abundance mindset. The scarcity mindset features a win-lose lens wherein one’s success is achieved at the expense of others. Conversely, the abundance mindset views the world through a win-win lens, where opportunities for cooperation and shared benefits exist. A scarcity mindset can dampen one’s chances of success while an abundance mindset harnesses opportunities and enhances prosperity. Thinking about how altruism can serve all members of the team, not just personal interests, allows one’s team to thrive and win.

The Two Components of Integrity

Integrity is the foundation of primary greatness and the first of the 12 levers of success. The author defines it as a combination of humility and courage. When you recognize where you can improve and have the courage to undertake the work of improvement, you’ll display true integrity. An act of integrity positively affects those around you, and it also shapes you in beneficial ways by aligning your values, beliefs, and actions. This alignment is known as congruence, making it easier to gain the trust of others and appear more authentic.

Finding Your Purpose and Prioritizing

The book emphasizes the importance of defining one’s purpose in life, contributing to the world, and differentiating between important and urgent tasks. Only 5-10% of people have actually defined their purpose, but it is crucial to have a sense of direction and duty. To identify purpose, it’s important to consider what the world is lacking, personal strengths, and how to contribute through something enjoyable. One should also consider that their purpose might be something that they were already doing. The second lever of success is contribution and the third lever is prioritization. Prioritizing involves distinguishing between important but non-urgent tasks versus urgent but non-important tasks. Importance always trumps urgency, and having a higher purpose leads to natural prioritization of what’s most important.

The Power of Sacrifice

Sacrifice is the key to forming productive relationships and achieving success. Through humility and putting the greater good first, we can strengthen bonds with others and create positive outcomes. Whether it’s shining a colleague’s shoes or addressing a large audience as though you’re speaking to one person, these small acts of service can go a long way in strengthening relationships and achieving success. By embracing sacrifice and service, we create meaningful connections and foster a culture of collaboration that benefits everyone involved.

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