Goal-Free Time Management vs Covey

February 25, 2007  

This past Friday I gave a Goal-Free Living speech in Chicago for a group of meeting planners. At one point, someone in the audience asked for my perspective on Covey’s goal-based time management concepts versus the Goal-Free Living compass-driven approach. As I was once an instructor for Covey’s “Principle Centered Leadership,” I felt quite qualified to comment.

To download this 4.5 minute clip from my speech, right click and “save target as”: goalfreelivingcompass.mp3 (4 Meg)

P.S. The woman who asked the question came up to me afterwards and said that my explanation resonated with her and that it explained why she has struggled with Covey’s approach.

P.P.S. The UPS story is only a joke. It was told to me by an employee there over a dozen years ago when they were my client. Although it is a very old joke, it makes a simple yet powerful point.

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3 Responses to “Goal-Free Time Management vs Covey”

  1. David Zinger on February 27th, 2007 4:38 pm

    I listened to your speech clip. I find the UPS story a bit dated as this is an old story I heard a number of times usually involving a consulting engineer banging a pipe on a ship to make the engine start.

    I love the story but in the case of UPS those who don’t know the “shipping” stories of the past may be doomed to pay consultants huge fees.

    Keep up the fine work.

  2. Stephen Shapiro on February 27th, 2007 4:55 pm


    You are correct. That story is an oldie but moldy. I’ve been telling that one for a dozen years. Regardless, it still makes a compelling and comical point: leverage is the name of the game. One hour of work does not yield one hour of value, whether it is work you are doing for your business or work you are hiring someone to do for you.

    In fact, when people work with me, I often tell them I am willing to pay more for results achieved in 5 minutes than in 5 days. Time is a bad measure of value.


  3. David Zinger on February 28th, 2007 4:24 pm


    Well said as so many people are “putting in time.”

    I am always chagrined when someones knows their number — as in “I have 3 years 2 months and 3 hours until I retire.”