The immensely popular self-help author Stephen R. Covey died early Monday from complications of an April bicycle accident. He was most famous for his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” He wasn’t directly involved in the cattle industry, but I have always been amazed at how many people within the industry read and utilized the writings of this motivator who blended self-help and management theory to shape and create their own management plans.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages. Covey’s obituary says his clients included three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies and scores of schools and government entities. He also trained three dozen heads of state, including the presidents of Colombia and South Korea and their cabinets.
What set his writing and life’s work apart was that he focused on principles more than practices. Perhaps it was these principles and values that so many people within our industry identified with.
His writing and speaking displayed his passion; he truly walked the walk in regard to adhering to the principles he espoused. The passing of an iconic person is a good occasion to ponder the positive change that person created in the world – not only for his generation but many generations to come.
Few of us will change the world in such a positive way, but we have the opportunity in our own little worlds, with family and friends, and in our careers, to do our part. Those of us in agriculture have the privilege of helping to feed the world and take care of the environment in the process.
I’m sure thousands of people will return to their bookshelf this week and review their copy of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” His seven precepts included:
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first
- Think win/win
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the saw.
From my bookshelf, I’ve also pulled out the books, “The 8th Habit” and “First Things First,” and I’m committing to take the time to reread them this summer. My goal is to take the principles to heart and strive to do a far better job of applying them in my life. If nothing else, Covey’s passing reminds us of what a life well lived can mean in the lives of others.