Stephen Covey’s Legacy

By Scott Westerman
“Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.”  Stephen R. Covey

I remember the day I first read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. I couldn’t put it down. The book laid bare, in simple terms, the formula for an phenomenal life.

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin With the End in Mind
  • Put First Things First
  • Think Win/Win
  • Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw

And then, along came his 8th habit: Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.

In celebration of Stephen Covey’s life, I want to share some of my favorite Covey quotes along with what those quotes mean to me.

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control — myself.” We are of our own creation and what we do every day, right or wrong, affirms it.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”  Try writing your to-do list with this in mind and see how your priorities change.

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”  Knowing what to do is only half of the challenge. Getting it done is the other half.

“There are three constants in life… Change, Choice and Principles.” Nothing stays the same. The choices we make will determine the extent of our happiness. And nothing good is ever gained if we don’t do the right thing.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Fresh perspectives can help solve our toughest problems. A diverse team can be invincible.

“Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” In the end, all you can do is model the behavior and believe that those you love will ultimately model it, too. If they don’t, it’s not your fault.

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are conditioned to see it.” Where we are right now is the sum total of our experiences. Enlightenment comes from challenging our paradigms and turning the prism to see the light in a whole new way.

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights. You could no more call them back then ignore the mess they left when they fell.” Words can be helpful or hurtful, so be mindful when you speak. This goes for self talk, too. Our subconscious listens closely to what we tell it. So when you’re talking to yourself, watch your language.

“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” Our broken hearts can be mended, but only we can mend them.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Trust is essential. It takes a long time to build and can be lost in an instant.

“I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.”  How many of us put up with unacceptable behavior? You always get what you accept.

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” What’s behind us is not important. It’s what we do right now that makes all the difference.

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” So choose your path with care, and don’t be afraid to back track if you’re on the wrong one.

“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” Treat one another as the miracles you truly are. If we all did this, imagine how different the world would be.

“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” If you look at life’s road from this perspective, everything you see along the way takes on an entirely different meaning.

I’m grateful for the life of Stephen Covey. He leaves a legacy of legions of human beings who are better people because he touched their lives.

Why not make that your legacy, too?