This story originally appeared in
the July 1999 Costco Connection.
Stephen Covey turns
to stories of courage
and inspiration to show
his 7 Habits in life.
BY BOB ROSNER
Stephen Covey, author of Living the 7
Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration
For the five people on the planet who haven’t heard of
Stephen Covey, a brief biography. Time magazine called
him one of America’s 25 most influential people. His book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People, has sold more than 12 million copies
in 32 languages in 70 countries. 7 Habits was
called the most influential business book of the
20th century by Chief Executive magazine. He
is the co-chair of Franklin Covey, the industry
leader in time-management resources and programs, and also a popular speaker to groups
around the world. Connection Editor David W.
Fuller and writer Bob Rosner recently caught
up with Covey for a relaxed and insightful
conversation in his Provo, Utah, office.
CC Let’s cut right to the chase for the millions of people who have read The 7 Habits
of Highly Effective People. Which habit do
you think is the most important?
SC Theoretically, I would say always Habit 1
(be proactive) because you have the power to
choose your response in any situation. But at
the practical level, the one that hits people the
most is Habit 5 (seek first to understand, then
to be understood). Just to simply start listening
will open up the world to you. You’ll start feeling reverence for people and it will bring
humility into your life.
But if you were to really push me I would
say it is Habit 2 (begin with the end in mind).
Why? Well, what is your life about? That is the
most important decision you’ll ever make.
CC There is something I’ve heard you talk
about that probably would surprise many
of your readers. That’s how you struggle to
live up to the 7 habits that you talk about in
SC My kids would ask, “Why don’t you prac-
tice what you teach? Listen to me, don’t judge
me.” I have to say they’re right. So, it’s kind of
like your knowledge area is here [drawing a
circle on the table with his finger] and your
ignorance is the space on the outside of your
knowledge. As your knowledge expands,
your ignorance also expands. I’ve also learned
that the habits outlined in my book are not
mine at all—they are universal.
CC Your book, Living the 7 Habits: Stories of
Courage and Inspiration (Simon & Shuster,
1999), is a storybook. I’m intrigued because
you describe yourself as not being into storytelling. How did you end up writing a storybook?
SC My wife convinced me that I have to tell
more stories. Also, I discovered that most
people are right-brained, and that stories
carry emotional and visual content that is
more powerful than all my so-called “theoret-
The Costco Connection • OCTOBER 2006