The Divine Center is one of my “go-to” books, that I consistently reference, and it is on my “Top 10” favorites book list. I’ve read many of Stephen Covey’s books and have enjoyed all of them. However, in my humble opinion, they do not measure up to this one in either scope or sequence concerning putting one’s life in the proper and most productive perspective.
It is hard to narrow the quotes in this book down to just ten since there are so many that are noteworthy. However, ten of my favorite quotes from The Divine Center by Stephen R. Covey, (1982) are as follows:
Quotes cited from “The Divine Center” follow this format: (Page Number).
1. Much more importantly, I came to realize that our perception governs our beliefs, our attitudes, and our behaviors. How, then, do we see? Most of us think we see the world as it is, but I believe this is not the case. We each see not with the eye but with the soul. Each person sees the world not as it is but as he or she is. When he opens his mouth to describe what he sees, he in effect describes himself, that is, his perception. (3)
Comment: I have found this observation, about how we view the world around us, to be an accurate description. For example, if an individual perceives the world in a negative way then that is usually the overall disposition and attitude of that person.
2. When you describe to another person your spouse or your child or your friend or a Church leader, are you conscious that you are revealing yourself? That is, that you are relating your perceptions rather than describing the person? (5)
Comment: Often I categorize a person in my mind to be this type or that. But, after getting to know them, I find they are seldom the sort of person I initially perceived them to be.
3. We simply cannot act contrary to our perceptions–and stay honest. (5)
Comment: I’ve struggled all my life with the level of honesty one should practice considering oneself genuinely honest. For example, should a husband tell his wife that her new hairdo looks silly when asked, if it does, or lie and tell her that it makes her look beautiful when it doesn’t? The fact that it looks “silly” is just a perception after all isn’t it?
4. Without question, one of the most powerful forces influencing people’s behavior is the perception or expectation that significant others surrounding them have of them. (9)
Comment: Covey refers to this axiom as the self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, a person tends to act in a way they perceive the world to be which in turn produces outcomes that tend to validate our perceptions of it.
5. The obvious implication is that the best way to change the world is to change your head, that is, your thinking, your perceptions. Remember, you see the world as you are, not as it is. You are the map of your world. (9)
Comment: I have gleaned from personal experience that this idea is a fundamental concept to a happy life. For example, if you change the way you look at things, then the things you look at will change… Literally!
6. One time I was visiting with President Marion G. Romney about this…, and he half-jokingly said, “Stephen, don’t get so close to the Brethren that you lose your testimony.” (36)
Comment: So often we find fault and judge institutions and organizations, like the church, by its leaders and members. This category of judgment is a false dichotomy since the ideals they aspire to reflect the reality of their actions because of their humanity. However, this is not necessarily hypocrisy. If the person or persons in question are “sincerely” trying to live up to the ideals they believe in, as they perceive them to be, on their journey to improve themselves, then this is not hypocrisy and cannot be judged as such… We all fall short of the “mark.”
Ends and Means
7. Ends and means are completely inseparable. In fact, ends preexist in the means. There is no way in which a person can indeed accomplish a true end by using unworthy means. (44)
Comment: How often have I heard the saying, “The ends don’t justify the means?” I still try to justify incorrect behaviors on my part by rationalizing that the result will compensate for my shortcuts to get there… and those false justifications seldom suffice as I have so often experienced.
Nobility of Character
8. It takes more nobility of character in the form of humility, patience, understanding, and courage to do whatever is necessary to build that one relationship–the family–than to labor diligently and faithfully for the many others outside of it. (54)
Comment: As I study history and the rise and fall of civilizations, I have come to realize and believe how important the family structure is to the success and worth of an individual and society in general. This endeavor is where the greater part of our time and efforts, both individually and collectively, should be concentrated.
9. Dag Hammarskjold, former secretary-general of the United Nations, once said, “It is more noble to give oneself to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” (55, 56)
Comment: What great wisdom and insight… an idea that has given me much thought and reflection.
10. True love is not possessive or manipulative or conspiratorial or forced in any way. But it requires an unconditional love supply source. (97, 98)
Comment: To emotionally detach from those we love, or try to love, is difficult but necessary if we are to love them truly. I am finding this out as I further my journey to understand better what pure love is… I believe that the “love supply source” must necessarily come from God.
Images – Post image: “Christus Jesus Christ Mormon” by More Good Foundation is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Web 25 May 2014.
Quotes – Covey, S. (1982). The Divine Center. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft.