Stephen Covey is recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, who has dedicated his life to demonstrating how every person can truly control their destiny with profound, yet straightforward guidance. As an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author, his advice has helped transform the lives of millions. His 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 most influential business book of the last century.
He was a great man of honor and integrity. I first met him when he agreed to be in the first Quest special on PBS. He became a great mentor. He did my national press Satellite launch for my last show going to air, being interviewed by journalists for 2 hours. In between calls, I asked him how he was, and he said his wife just had back surgery, and he was leaving for Europe the next day to train the mayors of 10 cities. I said “Oh my God, why didn’t you cancel. And he said he would never not keep his word to me”. Can you imagine the caliber of this man? How today’s world could use his moral leadership.
The most significant lesson I learned from Stephen Covey is about the power of choice.
It was one of the great experiences of my life while going through the stacks of a library over in Hawaii at a University. I pulled down this one book, and it has three sentences which are so powerful it just staggered me, it changed my life. Between stimulus and response is a space. In that space lies your power and freedom to choose your response. In those choices lie your happiness and your growth.
“True joy in life: being used for a purpose known to yourself as a mighty one.” Vision is perhaps the highest expression of our mental capacity. Affirmation is the passion you feel that affirms that vision. What’s your purpose? What are you about? What is that which gives you your passion, your excitement? What are you willing to sacrifice for? Most people have not paid the price to reflect deeply and to decide what matters most. They have not. I think the more we work on the leadership of our own homes, that realize that no other success can compensate for failure there. It’s the most significant work we will ever do.
You’re always about a cause that is bigger than yourself. Serving people, other families, kids that otherwise have no choice at all, or chance because they’ve been so abused, so violated, so neglected. We must attend to them. And that to me is a mighty purpose.
I love the statement from George Bernard Shaw. He said, “This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose known to yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
It was a true privilege to know Stephen Covey. He was a great man. He was of the belief that deep within each of us is an inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution – to really matter, to really make a difference. We can consciously decide to leave behind a life of mediocrity and to life a life of greatness – at home, at work, and in the community.
His support for my work meant so much to me then. The Quest featured the leading thinkers of the time on the mind/body/spirit connection – a revolutionary idea then. This new wave of thinking became mainstream and spirituality the biggest trend in America, according to Chiat Day’s vanguard study on mega trends in America. They cited the Quest published by Simon & Schuster as the best product in the U.S. market.
However it took a few years to get that and to expand our distribution on PBS from 12 cities to the entire country. Stephen Covey’s support and participation in my shows helped me do that. I pay tribute to him now. I share this with you in all humility as he was ever so gracious when he said: Lili Fournier is a courageous visionary, a strong example of how passion and vision and commitment can be amazing change agents. She is a woman of high moral authority whom I have been privileged to support and champion”. Stephen Covey transformed how people think, act and lead, to live their values. He was very influential in the development of life for millions of people. He passed away in July 2012, leaving behind an incredible legacy with his teachings about leadership, time management, effectiveness, success and especially love and family. A magnificent family.