It is with deep regret that I heard of the loss of Stephen Covey.
14 years ago, I was helping out a group of trainers in a management development centre. A manager of almost 25 years myself at that time, I guess I was seen as someone who enjoyed imparting objective development support to my younger colleagues.
The training was run in such a way that the group of participants were subdivided into three groups, each rotating to do a different piece of the assessment. As I had a break in my own work, I wandered into the training room where activities were underway. My eyes spotted a large brown box on the floor and I decided to take a peek.
In the box were dozens of copies of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, so cheekily, I asked if I could have a copy.
I was told I could.
Over the next few weeks, I read the whole book through for the first and, I might add, only time in my life.
I was engaged. So much so that I bought the planner to go with it and bought into the ‘Seven Habits’ system (long dusty on a shelf, I might add).
What engaged me so were the simple anecdotes that Covey used to explain his principles, many of which have stayed with me and which I use to embellish training to this day.
The simple principles that I got about managing time (not urgent, but important), ‘the map is not the territory’; all about perception and perhaps most importantly about keeping your promises, especially to those close to you, have proven invaluable. And many more too that, although they don’t spring to mind right in this moment, do so in my sub-conscious, popping up in unexpected moments with an ‘Aha’.
Sometimes, I’ve found the principles came from elsewhere in history and philosophy and for me, that doesn’t matter at all. Because the way Covey wrapped up the important information, in easy-to-digest stories and examples is very appealing.
As I worked through the book, which isn’t that easy a read, I changed my philosophies on life. I got myself a coach to help me with this and eventually, I got trained as a coach and left the safe and (for me) uninspiring corporate world for that land where every day is a sine-wave of ups and downs.
As I say sometimes to participants in training courses that I lead, far better that way than life being a straight line, for we all know what a straight line means on ER now, don’t we?
Mr Stephen Covey, we never met. Like millions of others, you changed my life, I feel for the better. At least it’s been a fun ride and never, ever, a straight line anymore.