Honoring Elders: Stephen R. Covey
[Honoring Elders: American culture has lost to a great degree the custom and value of honoring elders. I am intending this as a feature on this site, a way to honor men who have made a significant contribution to other men, especially when it comes to finding one's way and finding honor on one's path. Most of the men I include here will be elders, who's life story, voice and ideas may inspire you to learn from them.]
Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a primary influence on my learning journey. When I was nineteen my father had left me with his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and mentioned that he was a Mormon. Initially I refused to even open the book, because I figured it was part of my father’s plan to influence me to go on the Mormon Mission he’d prepared me for as a boy. However, after my Facing God experience [link] I had a willingness to search for truth or insight anywhere, and a trust in myself to be honest with myself and follow my inner guidance.
Several months later on a surprise visit to my father’s place in Arizona, I arrived too early in the morning to wake him, and so I went inside the only place I could find that was open–a laundromat–and opened this book he had given me. With his simple, common sense style of writing, he presented ideas that hit me strongly, resonated with me, made trust him and made me thirsty to learn as much as possible.
First was his presentation of the idea of paradigm shifts. This resonated in part, because it helped me understand that night Facing God. And in part because it opened me up to the possibility that there were countless more paradigm shifts I could have–countless more ways I could view reality, and perhaps each of them could hold major breakthroughs, insight and wisdom for me.
Second was his presentation of the idea that there were universal principles of life and the universe that we are easily discernible, and we have the inherent capacity through our nature as human beings to use them to guide our lives like a compass points to True North. For me this was fascinating to hear a Mormon man describing his relationship to reality in terms not owned by a single religion, and not in the mystical way I was used to. This had me trust him further.
Third his heart-centered and principle-centered approach, opened my heart to feel what I have come to call Honor. Through his personal stories and his writing, I sensed his willingness to face himself and face others to stand for his values, his principles, his people–and do the right thing. His work is an invitation to courage, compassion, character, honesty, humility, etc.
Fourth, and I can see this more clearly as I reflect back on it more than 20 years later, I was inspired by his lifestyle. He had stories of teaching and facilitating his work around the world for heads of state, for Fortune 500 companies, organizations of all kinds, all the way down to his own marriage and his children. He had a practical mastery for leading his life with courage, honor, integrity, wisdom, vision and mastery, and helping others do the same.
Although I never met the man in person, he mentored me through his books, his audio tapes, his example.
In addition to all he did as an author, teacher, guide and businessman, he was also a faithful husband to his wife and father of nine and grandfather of fifty two.
Are you familiar with Stephen Covey? Has he touched your life? I would love to hear in the comments.