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July 18th, 2012

Thoughts on the Passing of Stephen R. Covey

By Ron Nakamoto

Stephen R. Covey, the well-known author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, died unexpectedly on July 16, 2012 from complications of a bicycle accident.  He was 79 years old and still very active writing and teaching about leadership and success.

Here’s an excerpt from the Franklin Covey press release announcing his death:

“In 1984, Dr. Covey made the decision to leave full-time teaching as a university professor to establish a business organization, Covey Leadership Center, that could take principle-centered leadership throughout the world. From the inception of that business, Dr. Covey’s focus was always on writing and teaching, leaving the leadership and management of the business to others. In 1997, Covey Leadership Center merged with FranklinQuest, to form Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC), a global performance improvement company that now operates in over 125 countries throughout the world. From the time of the merger to his retirement from the board last year, Dr. Covey devoted essentially all of his time and effort to writing and teaching.

To Stephen, more important than his professional work was his work with his family. Stephen was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and spent a considerable amount of time with his immediate and extended family, getting together for vacations, games, celebrations, birthdays, and events of all kinds, and having one-on-one time with each of his children and grandchildren, which he loved doing. Stephen truly believed that the greatest work we do is within the four walls of our own homes and was a model of a loving and committed husband and father to the end.

Bob Whitman, chairman and CEO of FranklinCovey, said, “We lost a dear friend today. Stephen was one of the world’s great human beings. His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come. We extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Covey’s family, his wife Sandra, their nine children and spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Stephen frequently referred to them as his greatest joy, inspiration, and most significant contribution and legacy to the world.”

This is speculation on my part but I believe that because Stephen R. Covey had such a love and passion for his family, he had much more to contribute to the world; that he had much more wisdom to share and people to influence, particularly in the area of family leadership, than he had time to accomplish these things.  He leaves much work undone in the area of family leadership, particularly principle-centered family leadership (a search on the FranklinCovey website yields very little on family leadership).  This is the area where his thought leadership will be missed the most and where those who follow will need to be inspired to take up the challenge.

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