Stephen Covey passed away this week on July 16th, 2012. I was very sad to hear of his passing. Hewas one of the great all time authors. He has positively impacted millions of lives. According to USA Today, Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People spent 512 weeks on USA Today's best Selling Book List. Only To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye have spent more time on that list! The 7 Habits was published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages.
I recall fondly how I met him at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Conference in Palm Springs in 1996. I was running Metasys at that time. We were a software company, growing fast, with our hair on fire. He asked everyone to close their eyes and point to where they believed North was, and of course many people pointed in different directions. He then pulled out a compass and told us where North is… "True North" regardless of anyone's opinion. Imagine how your business execution would be if everyone had the same True North.
Then he did his famous "Do the Big Rocks First" thing. If you have not seen it, you need to.
His keynote was so profound. I was completely blown away. We were at about 110+ employees at Metasys. I came back to Metasys all charged up and trained every single one of our 110+ associates on Covey's 7 Habits. I even turned my home into a training center for our teams as everyone spent 3 days in my home taking the 7 Habits workshop. It changed our people and company for the better. Covey's 7 Habits has helped me in all areas of both my business and personal life. The 7 Habits are:
Habit 1: Be proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: See First to Understand
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
I often wondered how much more I would have learned and accomplished if I had these habits during my high school and university days. So I have already shared these habits with my two daughters. If you have children and you are reading this blog post, I would suggest sharing these 7 Habits with them. It is never too early to share these principles to your children, and demonstrate them through your actions.
But my most special memory happened when I was running MindBlazer. It was after 9/11, and Dr. Covey did a special event in New York to help the city heal. Our team had an opportunity to interview him after his event. He had a watch with a compass. He asked if we knew why he wore that watch. He then explained that he wore the watch to remind him of this: When working with people, focus on the compass and focus on being effective rather than being efficient. When working on process, flip the compass over and look at the watch, and focus on being efficient.
Dr. Covey, thank you for your legacy of the "7 Habits." You changed my life and millions of lives forever for the better.