This is a part of my Introduction to Covey's 7 Habits series.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Soren Kierdegarrd, 1843
Beginning with the End in Mind means...Imagine you're dead.
Still, imagine it, and imagine what you want people to say about you. It's not a vanity exercise, it's a way to help you reveal what you value as worthy goals to review. It also helps put the daily life busy-work in proportion. Does it really matter if you used every spare minutes doing a great job on some work that, in retrospect, didn't serve any greater good that you are proud of?
Before anything can be physically achieved, it is envisioned. Covey calls it "all things are created twice" - mental creation which precedes the physical creation. The point is, who drives your life? Do you envision your choices proactively, or do you let someone else lead your life?
Personal LeadershipWhile management is attributed by efficiency and "doing things right", leadership is about effectiveness and "doing the right things".
This Habit is about personal leadership - defining what you value as the right things. Using self awareness, imagination and our conscience we can build a Personal Mission Statement to aim our lives towards. This is a self defining action, building a sense of who you are and what is your role in life.
At the CenterWhat is the source of security, guidance, wisdom and power in your life?
Covey point various centers he observes people draw on: spouse, family, money, work, possessions, pleasure, friends or enemies, church or self. Putting such things at the center makes you dependent, and Covey points out the option (or, rather, need) of being centered on "correct principles" - deep, fundamental, unchanging truths. As such you try to stand apart of the emotional triggers of a situation and observe options, as described in the first Habit, Be Proactive.