Monday, July 30, 2012

Stephen R. Covey

Two weeks ago, on July 16th, Stephen Covey passed away at the age of 79; he’d have celebrated his 80th birthday in another 3 months. For me, his death was completely unexpected because he always seemed ageless, full of life, and as energetic as though he would live forever.

And he could have, but he now is enjoying "other scenes of haste."

In April he was out riding his bicycle in the foothills of Provo when he crashed while going downhill. He didn’t break any bones. However, even though he was wearing a helmet, the impact caused some bleeding in his brain. This is what ultimately took his life three months later.

So, the accident happened as he was “sharpening his saw” with aerobic exercise. He was pro-actively taking care of his physical body in anticipation of living a long, active, and productive life. He was setting an excellent example for all of us; he was following his own admonitions found in The 7 Habits. I can just picture him on his bike, wearing his helmet, looking like a Tour-de-France guy, grinning at me as he zooms by, with that familiar twinkle in his eye. I shall picture that whenever I think of him from now on.

I met Stephen Covey before he became world famous (in the early 1970s). For the last 12 years, since moving here from Albuquerque, I have thought of Stephen Covey every time I have driven down into Provo from Orem. His house in Provo stands out conspicuously in the foothills of the Wasatch Front.

I have, on my bookshelves, three of his books, including, of course, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve read 7Habits several times. About twenty years ago, I even bought a dozen copies and gave them away to my friends, because I was convinced that he had “nailed it.” What had he “nailed”? The “character ethic” is what he called it. A formula for successful leadership is what millions who’ve read the book have called it. A “Personal Reality Check” is what I call it.