Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank You, Stephen, by Rebecca Hession


Thank You, Stephen

By Rebecca Hession

I don't remember how or where I got my first copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I no longer have my original highlighted, dog eared copy.  I hope whomever I loaned it to loved it and used it and passed it on.  It seems strange not to be able to trace back something that was so life elevating.  I picture those life altering events to be memorable, "scrapbookable".

I was in my mid twenties with real life just starting.  I'd grown up with such confidence; fear and longing weren't really a part of my day to day thoughts.  I just lived, one job at a time, one relationship at a time with everything going pretty well.  Then I found the 7 Habits.  It was a like the menu to a success I had never really considered before.  Thinking about what I wanted, planning it out, strengthening my relationships.  It worked.    Jobs turned into careers, careers turned into management positions and management positions turned into a life I'm not sure I could have dreamed up on my own.

I know in my very core that I can't remember how I acquired my first 7 Habits book because I didn't find it, it found me.  God put it in my hands.

Ten years later I would find myself interviewing for a company called FranklinCovey.  I knew it was involved with The 7 Habits book but I didn't have much understanding about what they did past that.  I was drawn in by my love for these habits and their profound impact on my life.  Another Divine intervention to land me a career I hadn't ever planned for that would be my biggest blessing after my husband and kids.  In fact, without my connection to Dr. Covey's work and the FranklinCovey company, I'm not sure I could have grown into this marriage and raised these kids.  I've been blessed beyond measure.

I remember my first trip with a colleague to visit what would become my FranklinCovey family, my clients. In my beautiful new planner there was a stack of business cards with my name beside the name FranklinCovey.  I sat a little taller, planned a whole lot better, and smiled at my good fortune.  My life had been changed and now I was to be paid to pay it forward.  Pinch me.

The first time I met Dr. Stephen R. Covey, I was nervous with anticipation.  He was my hero.  We were at a conference and I was trying to play it cool but inside I was giddy.  He was in that first meeting, what I grew to rely on for our future meetings; warm, present and genuine.

Over time my career thrived and my opportunities to interact with Dr. Covey increased. During a large event, we gathered backstage to prepare and my husband joined me.  Dr. Covey stopped his conversation with another and greeted my husband with a warm handshake and embrace. He looked him in the eye and said, "Are you taking good care of her?  We need her in this company and we need your family to be strong."  My husband stood a little taller taking the challenge to lead our family. Stephen had that impact on you.  You wanted to rise to the occasion.  He asked if we had our family mission statement crafted and were prepared to weather the storms ahead.  Our marriage had been facing some storms.  He was a prophetic man, able to feel your need and invite himself in to help with genuine concern. We took that small exchange and kicked it up a notch to work on winning at home as much as we were winning in our careers.  That's the biggest blessing.  I'd 'been given the tools and it was up to me to choose their application.

My greatest memory with Stephen was a series of events requiring us to spend 3 days together presenting and teaching clients.  For one engagement, I was to teach The 7 Habits, followed by Dr. Covey teaching The 8th Habit. Another "pinch me" moment.  I don't remember much about that presentation except Stephen's response to me after.  "You are a teacher, Rebecca."

We left the event to ride via small private jet to our next event.   Stephen, his assistant Julie and myself.  A thrilling opportunity.  We sat in very close quarters with a chance to really connect.  He immediately was concerned for how hard Julie and I had worked that day.  "Ladies, please take your shoes off and relax, you've both worked so hard today.  What a great event you put on."  Then we laughed and joked and he told stories of his craziest moments that had me in stitches the entire ride.  Not enough people know how darned funny he was because he was so serious about his work.

I won't be attending the funeral this weekend.  I considered it of course.  Then I looked at the family responsibilities I would need to reschedule, the sadness I would feel from my daughter for leaving on another trip and I decided the best way to honor this man was to do as he told us, take care of our families, keep them strong.  Without a strong family, not much else will matter. I'll honor this man that I loved this weekend not by boarding a plane, but by staying home with my family to live the principles he taught me so well.  

I mourn the loss of this man, however, I do it with gratitude and a weighty responsibility to live what he taught me and to pass it on.  It is now up to us to carry the torch.  He lit the flame in each of us, now we must do it for another, the way he planned and taught.

Dust off that copy of 7 Habits, maybe you have the copy I loaned you 20 years ago.  Read it with fresh eyes.  My guess is your life is filled with new-found application of these timeless principles.  Read it, live it, then pass it on, just as Stephen intended.

Click here to read more about the life and passing of Stephen R. Covey
Click here to read more on Rebecca Hession's blog

Stephen R. Covey: Leader, Academic, Writer, Teacher, Mentor, Negotiator, Change Agent, and Much More...Farewell to an Amazing and Inspiring Person

At 2:15 am on Monday July 16, Franklin Covey Co. Ltd.'s Co-Founder, Stephen R. Covey, passed away surrounded by his wife and children.

His was a life well-lived.

At age 79, Dr. Covey was active and fit and, had it not been for a tragic bicycle accident in April, no doubt he could have been with us for many years to come.

I recall sharing a gym with him at a resort in Florida a few years ago while we each had a workout.  It was a company function and we were the only 2 people in the gym.  Appreciating that this was likely a small window of time in his day he had to himself to exercise, I didn't introduce myself or interrupt his exercise.  We each just did our own thing as we shared the gym.  Dr. Covey was 74 and I was 39 at the time - and Dr. Covey's workout lasted a lot longer than mine.  In fact, I had time to workout, leave the gym, wash up, change and come back down to the lobby when Dr. Covey was just leaving the gym.

At his Funeral service on Saturday July 21st, in Utah, many of those in attendance commented that "this was truly a celebration of Stephen R. Covey's life."

When asked by an attendee at one of his presentations what he wanted to do with this life, Dr. Covey replied "Release Human Potential."

That is, indeed, what Dr. Covey did, having impacted hundreds of millions of people worldwide through his writings, books, lectures, seminars, workshops, keynotes, videos, and media appearances.  Through these, and through the company he founded, FranklinCovey Company Ltd., no doubt 100's of millions more will be impacted by his life's work in the years and decades ahead.

Here are some quotes that demonstrate some of his key passions and perspectives:

“We are free to choose our actions, . . . but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.” 
― Stephen R. Covey

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic”– Stephen R. Covey

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” 
― Stephen R. Covey

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” 
― Stephen R. Covey

“ learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.” 
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“My wife and I just don't have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don't love her anymore and she doesn't love me. What can i do?"
"The feeling isn't there anymore?" I asked.
"That's right," he reaffirmed. "And we have three children we're really concerned about. What do you suggest?"
"love her," I replied.
"I told you, the feeling just isn't there anymore."
"Love her."
"You don't understand. the feeling of love just isn't there."
"Then love her. If the feeling isn't there, that's a good reason to love her."
"But how do you love when you don't love?" 
"My friend , love is a verb. Love - the feeling - is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?” 
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security.  It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody.  It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making.  It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.
- Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Here is the press release from the company he co-founded on the occasion of his passing:

July 16, 2012 19:49 UTC
Franklin Covey Co. Announces the Passing of Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Renowned Author, Speaker and Consultant
SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC) today announced that Dr. Stephen R. Covey, co-founder and a former vice-chairman and director of FranklinCovey, passed away peacefully this morning due to the residual effects of a bicycle accident he suffered this past April. He was in his 80th year. In his final hours, he was surrounded by his loving wife and each of his children and their spouses.
Dr. Covey made a decision early in his life that his greatest contribution and life’s work would be as a teacher. Beginning with his role as a university professor at Brigham Young University and then as an internationally-renowned author, speaker, and consultant, he has impacted the lives of countless millions worldwide. From grade school and university students, to Fortune 100 CEOs and numerous heads of state, he made teaching principle-centered leadership his life’s work.
In 1996, Dr. Covey was recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans. He is the author of a number of acclaimed books, including the international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold more than 20 million copies in 40 languages throughout the world. Other bestsellers include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and The 8th Habit. His most recent books include The 3rd Alternative, The Leader in Me, and Everyday Greatness.
In 2002, Forbes named The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the 10 most influential management books ever written. Chief Executive magazine recognized The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as one of the two most influential books of the 20th century. Dr. Covey received the Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative, was named Speaker of the Year, received the Sikh’s International Man of Peace Award, and The National Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
In 1984, Dr. Covey made the decision to leave full-time teaching as a university professor to establish a business organization, Covey Leadership Center, that could take principle-centered leadership throughout the world. From the inception of that business, Dr. Covey’s focus was always on writing and teaching, leaving the leadership and management of the business to others. In 1997, Covey Leadership Center merged with FranklinQuest, to form Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC), a global performance improvement company that now operates in over 125 countries throughout the world. From the time of the merger to his retirement from the board last year, Dr. Covey devoted essentially all of his time and effort to writing and teaching.
To Stephen, more important than his professional work was his work with his family. Stephen was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and spent a considerable amount of time with his immediate and extended family, getting together for vacations, games, celebrations, birthdays, and events of all kinds, and having one-on-one time with each of his children and grandchildren, which he loved doing. Stephen truly believed that the greatest work we do is within the four walls of our own homes and was a model of a loving and committed husband and father to the end.
Bob Whitman, chairman and CEO of FranklinCovey, said, “We lost a dear friend today. Stephen was one of the world’s great human beings. His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come. We extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Covey’s family, his wife Sandra, their nine children and spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Stephen frequently referred to them as his greatest joy, inspiration, and most significant contribution and legacy to the world.” 

For an insightful, personal reflection on Dr. Covey by one of his colleagues and employees, Rebecca Hession, please click here , or here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The 4 Disciplines of Execution book Hits #1 !!

With many thank's to all those who have purchased this book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution has shot to Number 1 on the Wall St. Journal's Bestseller List in the 'hard-cover business' category just 1 week after its release.

Update: It's Friday May 11 and The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4Dx) has hit #1 on the 8ooceoread Bestseller List.

If you'd like to purchase a copy, please click here.

If you're an Ontario, Canada business leader and you would like to discuss this book or topic further, please contact me at and include "Execution" in the subject line.

4Dx Book featured on the Reuters Sign in Time Square, New York
week of May 6, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012