Stephen Covey, 1932-2012
“Self-help” is a worn-out genre. Hundreds of new books each year promise to help us master the art and science of being human.
One book, however, is a masterpiece of the genre: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I have recommended it more times than I can count, and my business partner also puts it at the top of the list for his coaching clients. I was just reminding myself recently to read it through yet again.
This morning came the news that 7 Habits author Stephen Covey has passed on. If there is a heaven, I’m sure he’s up there scheduling a seminar as we speak. And even the angels could get more out of their lives if they listen to what he has to say.
Why is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a masterpiece? Exactly because it’s so challenging – because it doesn’t offer simple solutions. It invites us to engage in our relationships and our world in truly transformative ways. Covey succeeded, as no one else has, in convincing a business audience that the soft skills are in fact the hardest skills to develop – and the fundamental skills for success. Personal growth is professional growth.
I invite you to honor Covey’s memory – and your own development – but pulling your copy off the shelf (who doesn’t have one?) and reading it. If you’ve already read it, read it again.
Most books that achieve self-help fame offer nothing more than schlock – simplistic ideas that suggest success is easy (The Secret, anyone?) And you couldn’t walk past a book store for years, especially in an airport, without tripping over a display of 7 Habits. But at least in this case, the popularity of the book and the celebrity of the author were well earned.
I could speak at length about the impact the book has had on me, but this is, alas, a blog. Let’s just say I’ve never had a book stick with me like this one. It’s a profoundly important book, perhaps more today than when it was written. If everyone embraced Covey’s teachings, the world’s problems would largely go away. For example, imagine the possibilities if everyone sought first to understand, and then to be understood.
At Path Forward Leadership Development we are in the business of helping people learn to be humane and effective leaders. There’s no better grounding for a leader than to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Many thanks to Stephen Covey for his contribution to the cause.
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