Dr. Stephen Covey, author of several books including The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, died on Monday, July 16th from complications from a bicycle accident. He was 79 years old, in great physical shape, and yes, he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
His family, which is reminiscent of the tribes of old, was present at his side, and he died surrounded by love. The man was happily married, had nine kids, and 50 grandkids! But what made him so special was that he was just a regular guy, a smart one, to be sure, but someone who used to go riding small motorcycles through the pineapple fields of Hawaii with his wife hanging on for dear life right behind him. Last year his son Sean spoke to local teachers at a conference held at Athens State University, and I had the privilege of hearing him.
Stephen spent years researching the lives of people whom he wouldn’t refer to as successful, necessarily, because too often success is associated with money. Rather, he referred to them as “highly effective.” He was all about possessing and developing integrity, as well as the power of the internal, unseen victory that he believed always preceded the outward public one. Ideas like writing a personal or corporate mission statement, which are a standard in most business cultures today were revolutionary back when they were introduced by Covey in the late ‘80s.
His books sold by the millions, were translated into myriad languages, and he travelled the globe until just a few years ago to spread his message. So, what was his message? That essentially a well run life was one that was built upon the following seven habits:
- Be Proactive-Take responsibility for your life and actions, refuse to be a victim, and plan ahead.
- Begin with the end in mind-Take the time to become very clear about who it is that you want to be and what you want to do.
- Put first things first- Plan your week and life based on importance rather than urgency.
- Think Win Win- Don’t settle for solutions in home or business that don’t benefit everyone.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Synergize-Understand that a team accomplishes far more than an individual.
- Sharpen the Saw- Live with the concept that if you are going to be effective, you must take time to “recharge your batteries” through recreation, creativity and spiritual renewal.
So effective and practical was his approach that our local schools are now using the Seven Habits for kids, and last year I saw their effect in action. On more than one occasion I wrote about how they impressed me, and gave me hope for the future of our kids.
By any stretch, Dr. Stephen Covey was a highly effective person, and he will be missed. I, for one, am glad I came to “know” him, if only through his work, and will spend the rest of my life making the Seven Habits my own.
Ali Elizabeth Turner
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