“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” — Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey passed away on Monday. As I heard this news, I reflected back on my college days, when I was fortunate to have had this brilliant innovator in leadership as a professor.
Way before he published his bestselling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he was teaching students at Brigham Young University his leadership principles. His insight, his passion, his enthusiasm about leadership was masterful and legendary.
I still remember to this day his lecture on habits and how they form us, when he challenged the class to go 30 days without eating sugar. He was always health-conscious, and his challenge of no sugar was going to create a healthier habit in our life. Well, I think I made it two days.
Another lesson I remember vividly was when I had to get Dr. Covey to sign a release stating that I was current on all my assignments and maintaining an above-average grade in his class. As a varsity athlete, I had an extended road trip to play two games and would be gone for nine days. Our coaches made sure we student-athletes were up-to-date and had any assignments in advance so we could keep up with our classes.
I remember going up to Dr. Covey and explaining I had to go to Hawaii to play in the upcoming game. He replied, “You don’t have to go to Hawaii. You choose to go to Hawaii, and you choose to miss my class.” Later on, when I read his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” I was happy to see an example of a tennis player illustrating this habit instead of me.
Later on in life, when I was working at the newspaper in Provo, Utah, I had several more opportunities to visit with Dr. Covey. I brought up this story of getting the release form signed, and I received the biggest smile.
Being tutored in leadership by Dr. Covey has been one of the highlights of my life. I am truly grateful he has left us all with a shining example of how to become efficient in our life by applying his seven habits: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and sharpen the saw.
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
Thank you, Dr. Covey, for teaching me to look at what is important more than what is urgent.
Russ Davis is the circulation manager for the Lodi News-Sentinel.