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Stephen Covey was one of us and he passed away yesterday. He began to impact my life in 1976. I was a student and he was the professor. While the world lost a giant of exceptionalism as business consultant, the author of the worldwide bestselling, “7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE”, millions lost a friend, a defender of faith in God, America, and everything good about human development and growth.
The course he taught our class was “Leadership” and it combined personal performance with personal responsibility for private and public behavior. He never said, as campaigner Obama announced just days ago to his base about business owner success: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t make that happen. Somebody else made that happen.”
Stephen Covey was about building each listener up into the best they could be and congratulating success, so that in the end, your life was the sermon more eloquent than any eulogy spoken of you.
Such words as “Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win Win,” have become part of political, business, and even Hollywood scriptwriting lexicon and they came from a man who activily observed his own life and human behavior in every setting he was in.
He also made famous the thoughts dealing with challenges: “For one hacking at the roots ten are hacking at the branches.”
This is another way to say that most of us are so busy putting out brush fires we fail to ever with their cause; an apt reference to what “status quo” designers of Washington DC and some of our state capitals have encouraged.
He challenged his audience to imagine the end of their life with this:
“Imagine you are at a funeral,” he liked to say. “And the speaker is saying wonderful things about this person. You are seated in the back row and it gradually dawns on you that you are the person the speaker is talking about. Now I’d like you think about that. If you start writing your story with the end in mind you will accomplish wonderful things, even beyond your present dreams.”
Mr. Covey was no fan letting “life happen to you” but of scripting your own story and destiny. It is another way of promoting “American Exceptionalism” which is why hundreds of US corporations had hired him and his company. It is my considered belief that Stephen R Covey contributed more toward exceptional private and corporate behavior than any other man or woman of the 2oth century.
I never would have been encouraged to be so bold as to think I could become a “New York Times Bestselling Author” when I was flat broke, having lost all business assets and some hope in the California real estate and business bust of 1991. Picking up Covey’s “7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE” was one of the best decisions I made one week in 1991 when I had all of $50.
Though in a hospital bed for life saving treatment in 1997, my literary agent called me to tell me I was going to become one of those author’s who could claim the NYT title. I’m pretty sure I took responsibility for my own life, and by listening to Mr. Covey — again as a student — I was able to forge my own destiny, with a good wife’s support and God’s hand in my life.
I could go on and on about the contributions of this great, sweet spirited and humble man. I would encourage you, however, to read his books and create the exceptional life you were created for. As we do we shall keep American Exceptionalism alive…
God bless you Stephen R. Covey. We are a better country and world because of you!
James Michael Pratt is a New York Times bestselling author, a guest on radio, television, editor and owner of Jerusalem Reports—the online news consolidator on Middle East affairs—and has enjoyed appearances on FOX News, Hannity’s Great American Panel. He has written for The Daily Caller, Big Peace, Red State, and other online sites. You can follow him onFacebook or at www.jmpratt.com.