On page 96 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the author Stephen R. Covey urges you to close your eyes and imagine your own funeral. In this hasty little life of ours what impact are we having on those closest to us? How will they remember us when we die? What will they say about our influence when they step forward, pull the mic close to their lips, wipe that tear from their eyes and speak?
A few short days ago Stephen R. Covey died in hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho due to complications from a bike accident he suffered in April. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages. After reading that book I can safely say that 20 million people who would have grabbed that mic, pulled it towards them and said, “Thank you.”
“In his final hours, he was surrounded by his loving wife and each one of his nine-children and their spouses, just as he always wanted,” said the family in a statement. Covey was 79-years old when he died.
I was first urged to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by one of my managers back in my railway days. He was one of the most pro-active and positive people I had in my team and I remember clearly seeing a change in his behaviour and approach as a direct result of being touched by Covey’s work.
I actually picked up the book while browsing through my girlfriend’s bookshelf. I had it on my list but had never gotten around to buying it. I read the entire book in one sitting while traveling from Washington to London. For me to finish a book in one sitting is impressive in itself and speaks volumes about the quality of the book.
The book is chocked full of advice that you can use in both your business and personal life. It struck a real close chord with me because my own personal book project is based on the same theme. Covey understood that being a successful businessman just meant being a successful human being. The book is catered to give you a step-by-step guide on how to improve as an individual, thus creating more joy and value in your life.
Each chapter ends with a series of exercises and I found them to be short and very sweet. I have complained in the past about the lack of exercises in some books and the excessive use of them in others. I think Covey pitched this one just right and I am going to thoroughly enjoy going through the exercises myself. After reading the book, my advice would be to give yourself enough time, to not just read a chapter, but also complete the exercises as well. I think there is value to be gained by completing the book in this way, as I am sure it was intended when Covey wrote it.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of those books that deserve a place on your bookshelf. I am here to tell you that 20 million people did not get it wrong.