It has been two weeks, just 14 days, since our world lost a great humanitarian and true leader, in Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It seems like the news of this amazing human being’s life has all but died down in the media merely one week after his passing.
Stephen Covey, best known for his runaway bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has touched over 25 million people. Dr. Covey, who earned an MBA from Harvard and a Doctor of Religious Education from Brigham Young University, was celebrated as Time Magazine’s 25 most influential Americans.
In a world driven by our need to pursue instant gratification (PIG) and avoid painful experiences (APE), we need to take a moment and steer away from celebrity gossip and sensational news to celebrating the lives and contributions of people like Dr. Covey. So much of today’s attention is focused on the Kim Kardashians of the world, and sadly, not on the Stephen Coveys. The media is forced to feed the wants of its readers and viewers and not what’s necessarily significant. Stephen Covey, though not a mainstream celebrity, was a man who devoted his life to helping others achieve greatness and impacted many.
In 2000, I had an interesting meeting with Dr. Covey in Atlanta. After his speech at a conference, I met him backstage and asked if he had a moment to talk to me about his work in India. He said that he needed to run to his car waiting to take him to the airport and I responded, “I will run with you.” So we ran two blocks in downtown Atlanta and had a great conversation. I will forever remember that meeting as it’s been the only running meeting in my life.
One of his most powerful ideas which had a significant impact on my life about two decades ago was writing my own eulogy from four different perspectives — a family member, a friend, a co-worker and a member from the community.
An article recently posted on The Huffington Post titled, How Stephen Covey’s Words to Joe Paterno and Russell Wasendorf Can Affect Our ‘Futures’, points to what might have happened if Joe Paterno and Russel Wasendorf had written their eulogies and operated from there.
These were the “final” words of Peregrine Financial Group’s Chief Executive Russell Wasendorf Sr. in his attempted suicide note where he confesses to stealing more than $200 million from his clients. “I had no access to additional capital and I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat? I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated; I falsified the very core of the financial documents of PFG, the bank statements.”
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, you can either get his book or read a great overview of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People entry on Wikipedia.
As a populous, where we pursue instant gratification and avoid unpleasant situations so much, we tend to chase celebrities and everything they do to fill our curious minds than deal with issues such as death and learning from it. We need to go beyond our primal instincts so that we can fully engage, admire and enjoy life. Dr. Covey’s impact was both meaningful and significant, and his legacy is one to be celebrated and remembered, not avoided or forgotten. It is my sincere hope that his work will continue to lead and inspire millions more.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how can we celebrate life and the contributions of each and everyone and their impact on our planet.
Peace and Joy,