A Legend Remembered

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    I was one of the millions whose life has been transformed because of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s life and work. This is my tribute to him, an influential teacher and legend in my life. My heart breaks knowing that his life on Earth is over and my heart rejoices for all the ways he left his mark on Earth, now and for generations to come.
    I’ll never forget the day I met Stephen Covey in person. I was at a FranklinCovey conference as I recently became a certified instructor to train The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People at my organization. Hearing him speak was amazing, but meeting him was unforgettable. This picture of us is more than a decade ago. While we only had a few moments to connect, I remember it fondly. He was very interested in who I was and in my dreams. I shared how I wanted to start my own business around spirituality in the workplace. Not only did his inscription on the book he signed shared his encouragement for my dream, but his loving presence to me, a HUGE fan, left a inscription on my heart.
    At the close of The Seven Habits 3-day training, we would show an inspirational video that encouraged us to live, learn, love and leave a legacy.
    This is how I believe Dr. Covey has lived his life and a great way for us to do the same!


    In his books, he documented many ways for us to live to the best of our ability. His work with the Seven Habits has become coined as one of the most influential management books of our time. Reading his book right out of college, I started to live my life according to these principles. I realized that I’m accountable for my life (Habit One: Be Proactive). I was encouraged to dream and visualize what I wanted my life to be, or Begin with the End in Mind which is Habit Two. Looking at my life from the perspective of roles and making sure that I make time for the “big rocks” in my life is the essence of Habit Three: Put First Things First. These are the first three foundational habits in which the others build on these.


    I admired his insatiable desire to learn and grow. This is what makes both a good teacher and student. He decided early on that “his greatest contribution and life’s work would be as a teacher.” This is evident in his life’s work. For the nearly two decades that I’ve been familiar with his work, I’ve been excited to learn from him. First it was with the Seven Habits. Then his Eight Habit came out similar to the time when I published my first book. Both books, while quite different in approach, are about inspiring others to find their voice. His work around Highly Effective Families and bringing the Seven Habits into schools are where my heart lies now that I have my own family.


    Covey’s love for life and his family is what I admire most. Obviously only able to view his life from his written work, I felt the love he has for what really does matter most. In the press release announcing his passing, it says that. “To Stephen, more important than his professional work was his work with his family. Stephen was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and spent a considerable amount of time with his immediate and extended family, getting together for vacations, games, celebrations, birthdays, and events of all kinds, and having one-on-one time with each of his children and grandchildren, which he loved doing. Stephen truly believed that the greatest work we do is within the four walls of our own homes and was a model of a loving and committed husband and father to the end.”

    Leave a legacy

    The emphasis on leaving a legacy in the Seven Habits ignited the importance of doing so around the country. Despite the legendary legacy his professional work will leave, he still shares how his family is his greatest contribution.
    “Stephen was one of the world’s great human beings. His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come,” according to Bob Whitman, chairman and CEO of Franklin Covey. He said regarding this family “Stephen frequently referred to them as his greatest joy, inspiration, and most significant contribution and legacy to the world.”
    He taught us the exercise of what would our obituaries say about us, what/who would we be with during our final hours. By doing this we would know what really matters. He died with his family, the greatest legacy of his life, by his side.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.