Marriott Alumni Magazine

Summer 2012

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The purpose of this forthcoming book is, Cynthia says, “to get across the idea that life is a mission, not a career, and we’re here on this earth to serve.” Stephen may be well known, but his aim has never been fame or wealth. He has gone about in his humble way to empower people and help them take control of their lives. Even as Stephen received his doctorate of religious education from BYU in 1976 he looked ahead at the opportunities to influence. “I remember my father telling me that receiving a doctorate was a good thing,” his son Stephen recalls, “but that ‘a doctorate is something you achieve and earn; an honorary doctorate is given because you’ve contributed and made a difference.’” Stephen was given his first honorary doctorate in 1990 and was subsequently presented with ten more. “He has never said anything about honorary doctorates since that conversation,” his son says. “Deep down I feel his receiving these honors is most satisfying to him, because it’s a recognition of contribution.” The Seven Wonders Covey left the School of Management in 1983 to start Stephen R. Covey and Associates (now FranklinCovey) and become a full-time consultant. He loved BYU but knew there were vast opportunities waiting. “He wanted greater influence and leverage,” says his son Stephen. “It was a risk, but it paid off.” There was good reason for Stephen’s confidence. While teaching organizational behavior, he had spent the weekends helping business clients implement those same principles. One of his first clients was his cousin Rick Warner, a Ford dealer in Salt Lake City. Stephen left Warner’s employees energized, and word about his powerful ideas and clear way of presenting spread. His clientele within the United States grew rapidly, but his international following boomed. Leaders in China, Japan, Russia, the Middle East, and Korea were captivated with Stephen’s ideas, and he began to travel, keeping merciless schedules. He would give three to six presentations a day, get on a plane, and do the same thing the next day. He spoke at firesides and community forums for the LDS Church and trained missionaries wherever he went. Stephen filled every minute, unwilling to waste the stewardship he felt he’d been given. “Those who traveled with him had a hard time keeping pace,” Cynthia says. “And they didn’t have to do any speaking.” The principles Stephen teaches, Boyd Craig says, along with his commitment to his mission, gave him the stamina to keep moving and doing what he loved. True Perspective Despite the busyness of his life, Stephen has always kept the end in mind—focusing on his family. He frequently declined speaking engagements to watch a son’s football game or see a daughter’s school play. He used every opportunity—including changing a flat tire—to teach his nine children the same principles he taught world leaders. On his way home from a business trip, Stephen hopped on an airport bus in Salt Lake City. After a conversation with the driver, Stephen bought the bus and drove it home. He named it Papa’s Bus and chauffeured his family through Yellowstone or to the park to eat fried chicken and hold family home evening. Stephen’s greatest legacy will not be the number of heads of state he has advised, the millions of books he has sold, or the awards he has been given, Craig says. “For all the recognition he has received, the Stephen and Sandra Covey family stands supreme.” About the Author Lena M. Harper works at Brigham Young University, where she edits with abandon—magazines, speeches, CD booklets—happily writes on occasion, and gratefully learns from those who are much wiser.

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