Sad news came out of Utah earlier this week when it was announced that Stephen Covey, the author of the best-selling book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," passed away at 79 from injuries suffered in a bicycle accident earlier this year.
Many people throughout the world have had some experience with Covey, or at least his seven habits. They have been taught at colleges, at Fortune 500 companies, and even to smaller civic organizations like Rotary or Kiwanis.
I had two main encounters with Covey's seven habits. Both were in college, when I was a summer staffer with the local television station, CUTV. Covey was an annual guest at a leadership summit at my alma mater (California University of Pennsylvania), and the university always asked us to film the seminar, both to broadcast live and if they ever wanted it broadcast on tape delay (usually not, as there was all kinds of copyright laws and such). Covey was always the keynote speaker, and the topic was always some form of the seven habits.
I'll be honest, I never paid too much attention to his speeches. I don't think any of us, who pulled the lucky straw of filming that segment of the seminar, did. We were more concerned with making sure he didn't drift out of our viewfinder. About the only thing I remember from the speeches is something about the "sharpening the saw," topic. Many people, however, did pay keen attention. I can remember one particular summit where educators from all over the country (and world, I think) came to Cal U for Covey's speech. They took intense notes, and gave him a standing ovation on more than one occasion.
Not everyone has heard of the seven habits for highly effective people, though. When I pulled them up earlier this week, I have to admit, they are extremely applicable for our everyday lives. What are they, you might ask?
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
I would attempt explain them further, but that would probably take most of this page. It's probably better if I let Covey explain them in his book anyways.
Some of these things, we already do (or at least should be doing) in our everyday lives. For example, I think many of us follow the first topic already in being proactive — whether we realize it or not, we take responsibility for our actions and put a great deal of thought into our decisions.
Other points, we don't follow (or at least we choose not to follow). For example, not everyone wants to synergize, or work as a team. Some people would much rather do everything on their own, no matter what the job is.
I'm not saying that we have to follow Covey's seven habits verbatim. I probably wouldn't pick up the book unless someone gave it to me for free.
But he set the framework for a method which helps individuals across the world become stronger, and stronger people in the world means there's a better chance for our generations to succeed.
Alix Kunkle is the Leesville Daily Leader in Leesville, La. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.