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Start Small with Your Resolutions for 2010

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009


The start of a New Year is always special. There is a feeling of renewal as we look to a new year, a new beginning and there is a sense of excitement for making changes or adopting new habits. However, do you ever find yourself making New Year’s resolutions only to abandon them? If you do, you are not alone.

 

I want you to be successful at one goal, only one goal this year—and that is accomplishing one small goal you know you can accomplish. I say start small so you can build the confidence and strength to do more. It’s all about taking what I call “baby steps.” Start small, keep at it, and stay consistent until you’re ready pick up the pace.

 

I also suggest that you work on your goal on a weekly basis. For instance, if you are setting a goal to reduce your sugar intake, set a goal to reduce the number of sugar-rich drinks you consume during the week. If you are in the habit of drinking soda pop everyday or several times a week, decide at the beginning of the week how many drinks you will reduce in your diet. If you go too fast and eliminate all your drinks, you may just fail at it because you are not emotionally, mentally or physically prepared to do so. So start small. Make a promise and keep it…make a promise and keep it. And soon you will enlarge your strength, confidence and capabilities to discipline yourself to achieve other goals.

 

Many years ago, I went on a sugar fast with a group of students. You can’t believe how difficult it was at first but as we achieved small victories, our will power and passion for achieving our goal became stronger and stronger. We actually found strength in saying “no” to sugar because we felt an inner strength, a strength that inspired us to grow our confidence and abilities to grow our character, our sense of who we wanted to be.

 

As you set your small goal, you may want to enlist the help of someone close to you. It’s important to have some support, encouragement and a system of accountability. You might even invite this person to set a small goal that you can encourage them on. Work together and create synergy to help each other.

 

I wish you well on your journey in 2010. You have the potential for greatness in you! Go for it! Start small. Make a promise and keep it.

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Success on the Far Side of Failure—Learning from Failures

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Successful people often share similar characteristics. But I have come to believe that the single thing they have most in common is that they find success on the far side of failure.

 

What do I mean by that? I find that almost all successful people have experienced significant failures in life or in their work, but they have learned from their failures.

 On the other hand, people who don’t recognize their failures or don’t seek learning from them, are often the ones failing again and again. Why? Because they haven’t learned the lessons from the failure—they haven’t gained self-awareness or understanding; they haven’t understood others or their marketplace; they haven’t developed the maturity for humility and integrity—and they find themselves repeating their mistakes again and again. 

Think about the failures or mistakes you have made. How did you respond to them? What outcomes did you get? How have they helped you today? How have they not helped you—do you have something still to learn from your failures? 

If you want to make significant progress in your life, don’t forget to find success on the far side of failure!

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My New Book—How to Win, Even in Unpredictable Times

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I am excited to announce a new book I have just released with Bob Whitman, Chairman of FranklinCovey.  The book Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times outlines four key principles for getting great performance in good times and bad:

First, winning companies slim down to a few key simple goals with clear targets and careful follow-through. Everybody in the firm knows the goals and what to do about them.

Second, winning companies maintain high levels of trust with their customers, employees, and suppliers. They are totally transparent about their commitments, what they can and can’t deliver. Only the most trustworthy companies survive the kind of turbulence we’re in now.

Third, winning companies do more of what matters. In tough times most people resort to “doing more with less,” but the real question is “more of what?”  Winning companies focus on giving more value-not just cutting back.

Finally, winning companies recognize that everyone gets scared when things get uncertain. Instead of allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear, they channel their anxiety into results. They unleash people’s best ideas and energies instead of suppressing them or micromanaging them.

If you are interested in ordering the book, please Click Here and you will receive 30% off the price for the next few weeks. I know you will find many practical ideas in the book to help your performance.

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Got Job Security?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

In the U.S., unemployment is reaching close to 10%. Many people and families are feeling devastated as they lose their jobs. Others who have jobs feel the fear of losing their jobs or becoming irrelevant at work.

In response to this employment challenge, I am conducting a career webinar series.
If you or someone you know is concerned about job security or career advancement, I invite you to join my webinars. In these webinars you will learn the mind-set and skill-set necessary to not only survive but thrive in today’s turbulent times.

The first webinar on August 4 will focus on Employability: How to Keep Your Job, Secure Your Future, and Become Indispensable at Work. The key to achieving this is becoming a solution to your organization where you proactively find ways to create value and become a problem-solver rather than just an employee. This requires a new way of thinking and approaching your job.

I would like to hear from you…what are you doing to secure your job?

If you would like more information about the webinar on August 4 CLICK HERE

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Finding Freedom in Prison—The Weldon Long Story

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

How do you find freedom in prison? I invite you to read the story below as written by Weldon Long. I had the profound pleasure of meeting him in person recently…here are my thoughts after meeting him and reading his book.

I was inspired and thrilled to meet Weldon Long, the author of The Upside of Fear, at a meeting focused on strengthening families. I’ve loved and endorsed his book and I’m convinced that he has a very special mission in life. He’s such a handsome and pleasant person, and it was a very emotional experience for me as well to visit with him and know the kind of influence he can have, particularly with people who have been in the same kind of situation he was in, and to see his courageous and thrilling path to freedom, prosperity and family happiness. We were both emotionally connected, and I am profoundly grateful to God for his exemplary life and desire to serve God’s other children. I pray to God for his dear wife and son and other children that they might have. I felt an instant love for him.

Weldon Long’s story:

On June 10th, 1996, my father died and my life changed forever.

At the time I was in federal custody on mail fraud and money laundering indictments – it was my third time in prison. In fact, I was a career criminal, high-school drop-out, homeless alcoholic. I had abandoned my three-year-old son and broke every promise I had ever made.

I was the personification of the bottom of the barrel.

In the days following my father’s death, the regret and remorse of a wasted life crushed me.  For the first time in my life I saw myself for what I truly was, and I was sickened by what I saw. I knew I had to change.

But there was a small problem: I didn’t know where to start. That’s when I found the book that changed everything.  In a small room that served as the facility’s library I found a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Dr. Stephen Covey.

As I began to read the book I felt a sense of excitement I had never before felt. I felt as though Dr. Covey was speaking directly to me. For the first time in my life I began to seriously consider the values that had governed my life, and I realized that I had not been breaking the universal principles of success – I was breaking myself against them. The personality ethic had governed my behavior as I pretended and faked my way through life. My only hope was living my life according to the character ethic described by Dr. Covey.

After reading 7 Habits I set out to rebuild my life and become a man I could love. Moreover, I resolved to be the father to my son I had never been.  Over the next 7 years as I served my third prison sentence, I began to see the fruits of implementing the 7 habits.  I began to take responsibility for my responses to whatever came my way in life. I began to visualize how I wanted my life to be years in the future. And I began to get my priorities straight.

By the time I left prison in 2003, I had earned my BS in Law and an MBA in Management. Within six months of getting out my son was living with me, and within a year I had married the most amazing woman I had ever known. Within three years of getting out my new wife and I owned the largest residential HVAC company in Southern Colorado.  And within four years of getting out of prison my wife and I owned a beautiful home on Maui. I had completed my transformation from Prison to Paradise by implementing the things Dr. Covey had taught me through those lonely prison years.

Today, my wife and I have successful companies and my son, who is now 16, is a happy, outgoing teenager with a bright future ahead of him. I have written a book about my journey called The Upside of Fear, which outlines my twenty year cycle of prison, poverty and addiction and how I broke the cycle. My hope is that others will learn from my story and come to realize the dreams really do come true – if we work for them.

My story would be amazing if it ended right there, but there is even more… way more.

In addition to writing, I do motivational and inspirational keynotes as a professional speaker. Recently I delivered a presentation to a group of Colorado Springs’ business leaders and professionals. Just before I began my presentation a man in the front row stood up and announced that Dr. Stephen Covey would soon be in Colorado Springs to address a small group. He said that if anyone was interested in attending the upcoming event to see him before leaving.

Dumbfounded, I heard the voice of the host introduce me, and as I stood before the audience I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. It was all I could do to stay focused on my task at hand and deliver the message I had prepared.

After my presentation I spoke with the gentleman who had announced Dr. Covey’s visit to Colorado Springs. He invited me and my family to attend the event and offered to get a copy of The Upside of Fear to Dr. Covey. As it turned out his daughter was Dr. Covey’s personal assistant. I could hardly believe my ears.

A month later I sat in the audience as Dr. Stephen Covey spoke. As I listened to his words I thought back to the time thirteen years earlier when I read 7 Habits in a dark, lonely place. I couldn’t believe the man whose words saved my life stood just a few feet away from me.

At the conclusion of Dr. Covey’s presentation a line formed as audience members approached the stage to shake the hand of the man who had no doubt impacted them all in some way. I approached the opposite side of the stage and took the opportunity to thank the man and his daughter who had made this special night possible for me and my family.

As we discussed the impact of hearing Dr. Covey live, I was approached by someone from behind. I turned to see the face of the man who had changed my life. There, no more than a foot in front of me, stood Dr. Stephen Covey.

I was speechless.

“I really enjoyed your book, Mr. Long,” Dr. Covey said.

“I, uh, I really enjoyed yours too. It saved my life,” I stammered. Seeing my nervousness, Dr. Covey softly smiled.

Suddenly I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t believe the man who wrote the words that transformed my life was right there. I tried to speak, and I am sure I said something that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Suddenly he reached out and put his arms around me, and I began to weep.

It was one of the most profound moments of my life. The man whose words had comforted me in the darkest hours of my life was now comforting me again – this time the way a father comforts a frightened child.

For the next several moments, as I began to regain my composure, Dr. Covey told me I had a “Divine Destiny” and that I would have the opportunity to help others with my story. I thanked him for all he had done for me and my family. We shook hands and he quietly moved on to greet others in the crowd.

I stood there with my family and friends in circumspect silence. I thought about how my life had changed, and I was grateful for everything I had learned and the wonderful life those lessons had brought me.

A few days later I learned that Dr. Covey had agreed to write an endorsement for my book. The endorsement read:

“This book comes from a magnificent person who learned the lessons of life out of profound prison experiences. Despite the harsh language, Wally Long is a true diamond in the rough who produced this inspiring and illuminating account of the path he took to freedom and prosperity.”
Stephen R. Covey

I read the words and couldn’t believe the generosity of a man who had sold millions of books and is one of the most influential leaders of our time. The endorsement was written on June 10, 2009, exactly 13 years to the day my father had died and I set out on a journey to change my life.

I guess dreams really do come true.

Weldon Long – Author, The Upside of Fear: How One Man Broke the Cycle of Prison, Poverty, and Addiction.

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Twitter-Driven Revolution for Voice

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

In my book, The 8th Habit—From Effectiveness to Greatness, I wrote about some of the seismic shifts we’ve seen in our world—changes that have created a fast evolving world. These new realities define our new Knowledge Worker Age and the challenges and opportunities that face people and organizations all over the world.

Today, we are seeing such a seismic shift unfolding before us with Twitter social media and technology. If you weren’t familiar with what Twitter is, I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now.  Iran is undergoing a movement that has the potential of revolutionizing their state and society as people take to the streets protesting recent election results. Through this innovative tool, the people’s voices in Iran are being heard loud and clear throughout the world.

I wrote in the 8th Habit that the crucial challenge of our world today is this: to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs. On page 104 I specifically wrote about the effects of the internet in the democratization (finding voice) of our world. Here is the excerpt:

The Democratization of Information/Expectations
No one manages the internet. It is a sea change of global proportion. For the first time in history the pure voice of the human spirit rings out in millions of unedited conversations unfettered by borders. Real-time information drives expectations and social will, which ultimately drive the political will that impacts every person.

What are your thoughts? How are social networking applications changing your life, giving you voice and shaping the world we live in?

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Nothing Fails Like Success

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Are you struggling to make changes or respond to changing conditions? I know many people right now are being forced to change the way they work or live because of our turbulent environment. What we might all consider in these times is what the great historian Arnold Toynbee once said:

Nothing fails like success.

What does that mean exactly? Well, if you consider the challenges you’re facing, you might just be using an old approach that isn’t equal to the challenge. In other words, when we have a challenge and the response is equal to the challenge, that’s called success. But once we have a new challenge, the old, once successful response no longer works. That’s why it’s called a failure.

We have to examine our paradigms (our view of things), our tools, our skills to determine if we’re approaching the problem in the right way. As a first step, we may even step back and make sure we’ve correctly defined the problem. Then we need to see if, based on the evidence of results or lack of results, if we need a new approach.

As you ponder your challenges, consider if you need a new mindset, a new skillset or toolset. You may need to adjust your view, try a different perspective or a new way to think about it. Then you may need to acquire some new skills or tools to tackle the problem. What ever the case, you may need to find a new model to drive success. This can be an exciting proposition because you will most likely find new growth and development in the process—this is success!

Remember: nothing fails like success. Be vigilant and be ready to continually learn and adapt to new challenges, which will surely come your way.

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Strengthening Families in Times of Crisis

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I was in Dallas on Monday, May 4 to make a presentation on strengthening families in times of crisis. Gathered in the room were people who have recently lost their jobs and find themselves looking for new work in a very tough environment. This gathering, of course, was a snapshot of millions of people all over the U.S. and in many parts of the world due to the economic crisis that has gripped us.

Being out of work and looking for work can have a troubling impact on families. The mounting stress, pressure and worries often impact a person’s ability to be the kind of spouse or parent they would like to be. Communication might break down. Fighting or quarrels might increase in your relationships. And family members might feel neglected, scared or withdrawn.

In such situations, I counsel people to remember who are the most important people in their lives and what matters most to them Yes, being out of a job might have you in a crisis, but your family is your most precious possession. So what can you do to strengthen your family in times of trouble?

There are three things that I encourage everyone to do with their families in good times or bad:

  1. Write a family mission statement—identify what kind of family you want to be. For instance, what qualities define your family, what kinds of feeling do you want in your home, how do you want to build relationships? Get everyone involved in these questions and write something that describes your family and how you want to be.
  2. Hold weekly family meetings—gather your family once a week to talk about issues, problems or good things in your family. Refer to your mission statement to see how you are doing. Enjoy this time together; do something fun.
  3. Remember the emotional bank account—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.

As you do these things, you will find your relationships strengthened in your family. You will take control of your life and your family’s life rather than being tossed away by the storms of problems or crises that come your way. With a strong family, you will be more effective in your job search and your family will be your greatest source of strength and support.

For more ideas on strengthening families you may interested in reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families or other good books on the subject.

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7 Habits in Schools Gain Success

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I recently traveled to the UK and had the opportunity to meet Ed Balls, Minister of Education. I was pleased to hear of his interest in finding out how 7 Habits school programs were doing in the UK. Mr. Balls was surprised to hear that one such program was being piloted at a school not too far from his home. He committed to go to the school to observe the program.

I strongly believe that the 7 Habits is a key to turning around schools to help improve teaching, student performance, partnerships with parents and overall success. We have many schools in the U.S. integrating the 7 Habits into their curriculum with great success.

At the secondary level, one great success is found at the AB Combs Elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina. They have transformed themselves into a model school by infusing their curriculum and school culture with the 7 Habits. Student performance has risen, discipline problems have declined and teacher job satisfaction has gone up. If you would like to learn more about AB Combs Elementary and their success, you might be interested in reading The Leader in Me or learn more in Community by going to The Leader in Me Group.

I look forward to hearing back from Mr. Balls as he evaluates the 7 Habits secondary school program at his neighborhood school. He is a great champion for finding new ways to bridge the education gap and has developed programs that are complimentary to the 7 Habits.

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Find Success by Doing the Things You Dislike

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

As I think of the struggles many people go through, I am reminded of a powerful quote by Albert E. N. Gray:

The successful person has the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.

If you are someone who has to make important changes in your life, you may want to ponder on this idea. What are the things you know you have to do but are avoiding? If you were to discipline yourself and create a plan for doing those things, would you find positive, even breakthrough rewards?

In my case, I know when I’m trying to avoid doing something, I eventually see that I’ve paid an even higher price by avoidance. For example, when I’ve neglect my health by not eating right, exercising, or getting enough sleep because I find it hard to stick to a disciplined regiment, I have found myself feeling sluggish and not doing my best work. When I finally subordinate my dislikes to the strength of my purpose, things turn around.

Identify something you are avoiding and make a promise that you will do it. Make a promise and keep it. Subordinate the things you dislike doing to your greater purpose. The more you do this, the more strength you will build—and the more success you will find.

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