>First Things First and Enterprise Architecture

>In the book “First Things First” by Stephen Covey, the author describes an important dilemma of what’s important to us in life versus how we actually spend our time. Covey uses the metaphor of the clock and the compass to explain this.

  • The clock—“our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, and activities—what we do with, and how we manage our time.”
  • The compass—“our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, and direction—what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.”

The idea here is that we “painstakingly climb the ‘ladder of success’ rung by rung—the diploma, the late nights, the promotions—only to discover as we reached the top rung, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”

“Absorbed in the ascent, we left a trail of shattered relationships or missed moments of deep, rich living in the wake of the intense overfocused effort. In the race up the rungs we simply did not take the time to do what really mattered most.”
What is really important?

Covey sums it up nicely, as follows:

  • To live—our physical needs (“food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health”)
  • To love—our social needs (“to relate to other people, to belong, to love, to be loved”)
  • To learn—our mental needs (“to develop and to grow”)
  • To live a legacy—our spiritual needs (“to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution” and most important of all to serve and sacrifice for the one almighty G-d)

In case you don’t recognize it, these align nicely to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.


Maslow “in his last years, revised his earlier theory and acknowledged that the peak experience was not “self-actualization, but “self-transcendence,” or living for a higher purpose than self.

George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

“This is the true joy in life…being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can…I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Covey says it this way:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

As an enterprise architect, who works everyday to build a better organization, with efficient and effective business processes, timely and meaningful information supporting the business, and information technology solutions that drive mission execution, I thought it was important to put this important job in perspective. Because in order to be effective in the role as an enterprise architect, we have to realize that “balance and synergy” among the four needs—physical, social, mental, and spiritual—are imperative.

As Covey states: “we tend to see them [these needs] as separate ‘compartments’ of life. We think of ‘balance’ as running from one area to another fast enough to spend time in each one of a regular basis [or not!]…but [this] ignores the reality of their powerful synergy. It’s where…we find true inner balance, deep fulfillment, and joy.”

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