I couldn’t believe what I was reading the other day. Stephen Covey had passed away due to complications from a biking accident. What?! It was inconceivable to me that the man who’d influenced my life so greatly, a man whose ideas literally changed the path I walked down could ever die. Yes, I truly believed him to be immortal. And I guess in a very big way, he is.
His ideas on effective interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are known around the world and across all ages. Whether it’s through his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, The 8th Habit, or his son, Sean’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, the impact he’s made on so many lives is tremendous.
There were some dark days in my past, when going to work seemed more dangerous than swimming with sharks. Luckily, my administrator noticed how far out on the ledge I’d gotten and put Covey’s book in my hands. I swear I could hear angels singing that day. I’d been given a new way of conducting myself in my life, a shift in paradigm from the one I’d grown up believing, and I could finally breathe.
The tenets of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can be found and understood quite easily at http://www.quickmba.com/mgmt/7hab/ . The 7 habits are:
2.Begin with the end in mind
3.Put First things first
5.First seek to understand, then to be understood
7.Sharpen the saw
When I learned that I couldn’t control how people interacted with me, but I COULD control how I responded to them, it changed my world. I no longer feel like a victim, but empowered to respond to negativity with grace and diplomacy. I understand everyone walks around with a story inside them and it’s those stories that shape the way people communicate with others.
Having a personal mission statement and setting goals allowed me the opportunity to control my destiny. I achieved new heights of professional satisfaction and personal happiness. It has gotten me to this point in my teaching and writing career. My pie in the sky dream was to become published. Well, I am. On to the next goal- to become a best-selling multi-published author and be able to write full-time. Not there yet, but I am multi-published. Understanding that I needed to put first things first enabled me to address my professional needs and personal needs and stay focused on my mission statement.
I’ve learned to go into a problematic situation with a win/win attitude, and help others to present solutions to problems and come away with one that works for all. That wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t able to help people to seek to understand the other person first and then seek to be understood. We don’t spend enough time listening to each other. When we do listen and check for understanding, we open the door for astounding collaboration or a deeper relationship. When I’ve employed these habits at work, what we’ve come away with is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I maintain a balance of all these habits, reviewing, reflecting, altering and changing as necessary.
Through Stephen Covey’s work, I’ve been able to grow as an individual and become an integral part of a team. The 7 habits have greatly improved my work life and home life. I am eternally grateful to have been given such a precious gift as his first book. The world is just a little less colorful without him in it. But his teachings are infused in so much of what we do everyday that he is, in my opinion, truly immortal.
Thank you, Stephen Covey, for all of your hard work and dedication to the betterment of society. I know I am forever changed .