Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died yesterday at age 79.
Those of you who’ve heard my story know that Dr. Covey was my #1 inspiration for becoming an author, speaker and coach.
The year was 1993. I was browsing through my church’s bookstore when – and I swear I am not making this up – something fell off the shelf and hit me on the side of the head.
I bent down to see what it was. A tape set (yes, this was in the days of CASSETTE TAPES) entitled “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Hmm, I said to myself. Sounds interesting. (I’d never heard of it before.)
I listened to it in my car… four times in a row.
By the time I got home, tears were streaming down my face.
Because I knew that I had been living “The 7 Habits of Highly IN-effective People”.
I made a decision then and there that I would somehow learn how to make a difference in the lives of others, and stop living such a selfish, self-centered life. That I would write a book someday. And maybe hope to influence others the way Dr. Covey had influenced me.
Fast forward to 1996. I was back in college studying Leadership and decided to write a paper on highly effective leadership principles. Wouldn’t it be amazing, I thought, if I could interview Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – the book that had started my journey on this path?
So I decided to take a chance and call his office. (This was before Franklin Planners had merged with Covey Leadership Center.)
I spoke with one of Dr. Covey’s assistants and told her about my paper. She said, “Can you hold please?” and a minute later got back on the line and said, “How is next Thursday for you?”
My jaw hit the floor.
And that’s how I got 20 uninterrupted minutes with Dr. Stephen Covey. I’ll never forget our interview. (Unfortunately, I didn’t make a recording; all that remains is my memory of that remarkable conversation.)
When I spoke with him, he was exactly what you would want Stephen Covey to be – humble, self-effacing, brilliant and forthright.
At the end of our interview, he said, “Thank you, Noah – I’m sorry I have to go now, but there are some TV people here waiting to talk to me.”
Here I am, this “no-name from Maine” talking with Dr. Stephen Covey… for all I know, it could be Diane Sawyer waiting in the other room… and he’s talking to ME???
It was an experience I’ll always treasure.
A few years later, I was again humbled and honored when Dr. Covey gave me a testimonial for my book The Secret Code of Success. He read my manuscript and wrote a personal endorsement that proudly appears on the back cover. For years, I had dreamed of having Dr. Stephen Covey endorse my work; for it to finally happen was a dream come true.
I’m truly saddened by the fact that I didn’t get to spend more time with this great man. I had been planning a trip to see him, but for some reason, “never got around to it”.
Let that be a lesson to all of us: If there’s someone on your “bucket list” who you want to spend time with, don’t delay. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t put it off.
Do it today.
Make that phone call.
Write that Thank-you note.
Reach out and touch someone you admire.
The world has lost a great man and a true hero.
Thank you, Dr. Covey for reminding us of what greatness really is.
PS. Drop me a comment below if something in today’s message resonated with you.
I believe in you!
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Noah St. John, Inventor of Afformations