Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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.

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