Stephen Covey is someone I’ve been well aquainted with since my younger days as a Mormon (a long stop on my spiritual journey). Covey has been strongly involved in the leadership of the Mormon Church, as well as being the author of one of the most popular organizational books of all time, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
At a time where a lot of attention was being focused on the mechanics of staying organized, Covey took a step back and looked at the principles behind organization. Personal organization is not simply a matter of making lists of things to do. It is a matter of choosing to do the thigns that are actually important to our life’s purpose and values. For many type “A” personalities, this is a dramatic insight.
This is the centerpiece of the first of the “seven habits” – proactivity
Just to give you a taste, here are the “Seven Habits” that Covey recommends:
Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision
Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution
Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Mutual Understanding
Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal
Excellent principles. And Covey has added a book on his eighth habit. “Find your voice and encourage others to find theirs”.
Covey is a well-grounded, balanced and knowledgeable teacher, with many years of experience in leadership, motivation and training. And he brings deep psychological and even spiritual insight into his work. He is usually careful to keep his overtly religious ideas out of his teaching, but some critics think they detect shades of subtle Mormon philosophy coloring his work. Not surprisingly, these critics tend to be those who have their own very dogmatic religious views.
As for me, even though I now completely reject and cannot share Covey’s Mormonism, his organizational teachings are first-rate, and everyone interested in this topic shouldn’t consider themselves well-trained until they have read Stephen Covey.
Below is a short video interview in which Covey discusses the first of the seven habits – proactivity