Author Stephen Covey Dies: 14 Inspiring Quotes From His Legendary Self-Help Books

7 habits of highly effective people stephen coveyStephen Covey, author of the iconic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died this morning at the age of 79. The management guru taught business at Brigham Young University and penned other 7 Habits spin-off books, selling some 20 million copies. In 1996 he was named one of Time magazine's top 25 most influential Americans. Not bad for a Utah boy raised on an egg farm!

If you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, you're probably familiar with the 7 Habits series. Covey observed successful people and pinpointed a handful of habits they all shared. This turned the road to success from a mysterious challenge into a path with clear steps for anyone to follow. Covey's words have helped millions of people find clarity for their goals. Here are those classic seven steps and some of Covey's most inspiring quotes.


First, a list of those 7 habits:

  1. Be Proactive 
  2. Begin With the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

Covey has inspired dozens of parodies and his ideas have sometimes been misused by clumsy managers. But many of his quotes still truly resonate with me:

  • Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).
  • Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
  • The way we see the problem is the problem.
  • There are three constants in life ... Change, Choice, and Principles.
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
  • Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.
  • We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.
  • Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It's not logical; it's psychological.
  • If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control -- myself.
  • It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
  • Live out of your imagination, not your history.
  • Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.

Do you agree with any of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits and other quotes?


Image via Simon & Schuster

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