Stephen Covey just died at the age of 79 from bike accident injuries suffered three months ago. If you’re my age, you remember well the groundswell of publicity about his bestseller, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In today’s NY Times obituary, these seven habits were listed again:
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think “win-win”
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
7. Sharpen the saw; that is, undergo frequent self-renewal
The wording of these seven tenets illustrates Covey’s special gift for language. That is, he simplified the message by using words easier for people to grasp. For example, instead of saying “prioritize,” he said: “Put first things first” for those who don’t know how to prioritize. He said “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” rather than using words like “empathize” or “show compassion.” His gift was to make common sense behavior appealing and put it into a business relationship context. That he was also Mormon (married with nine children and fifty grandchildren) may be parenthetical or not.
He was also driven, it seems, by his own habits: “Fortune reported that he was once seen at a gym lying on the floor of the shower room being sprayed by three shower heads while he brushed his teeth and shaved.” Finally, though–and this is why I’m writing a post about him, is that he spoke about “Begin with the end in mind.” Covey spoke about how we want to be remembered: and that if “we carefully consider what we want to hear about ourselves at our funeral, (and that is indeed how we want to be known,) then we will discover our own definition of success.”
So it seems that at the same time that this individual helped millions of people to strive for success in the external world, he also influenced how we can be successful simply by being authentic within our interior lives.
Now that’s what I call a “win-win.”