Stephen R. Covey, who won a global following and a five-year run on bestseller lists by fusing the genres of self-help and business literature in his 1989 book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic,” died Monday at a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was 79.
His family said in a statement that the cause was complications of a bicycle accident three months ago, according to the New York Times.
Covey’s book sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and it became the first audiobook to sell more than a million copies. After conferring with Covey over Thanksgiving in 1994, President Bill Clinton said American productivity would greatly increase if people followed Covey’s advice. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies flocked to use a consulting company he had founded.
Covey was a bit baffled by his success. He said he was simply telling people what he thought they already knew: the efficacy of good behavior. All that people had to do was form habits out of their best instincts, he said, calling his seven nuggets of knowledge natural laws, such as gravity. They are:
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.
7. Sharpen the saw; that is, undergo frequent self-renewal.
“We believe that organizational behavior is individual behavior collectivized,” Covey said, according to the newspaper. He expanded the lesson in 2004 in “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” in which he urges people to find their own distinctive voice and to encourage others to find theirs.