Goodbye Dr. Covey – An Emotional Milestone

Perhaps one of the most influential business books I have ever read was “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Dr. Steven Covey.  His passing this week marked an emotional milestone for me when I think back at how many times I have thought about this book and shared it with others over the past 20+ years.

Somehow this book fell out of vogue, but the content is timeless.  The sad part of it all is that the next generation of business leaders does not have the familiarity of his teaching as we did in the 1990s.

Thought this might be a good time for a refresher:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (source: Wikipedia)

▪                Habit 1: Be Proactive

Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

▪                Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life. Create a mission statement.

▪                Habit 3: Put First Things First

Prioritize, plan, and execute your weekly tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

▪                Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.

▪                Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.

▪                Habit 6: Synergize

Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork. This helps achieve goals no one person could have done alone. Get the best performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.

▪                Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer, (mediation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.

After he published this book, Dr. Covey went on to build a powerful thought leader empire of additional books, seminars, etc. building a brand recognized worldwide.  Although this content is available for generations to come, his greatest gift will perhaps be the values he communicated.  Thanks Dr. Covey! 


Joseph S. Grano, Jr., has a record of success providing vision and strategic direction to organizations experiencing rapid growth and change. He is one of those rare individuals who have made a successful transition from corporate leader to entrepreneur and owner of his own growing company.