Rest in Peace, Dr. Stephen Covey (1932-2012)


I think this post is both urgent and important… Dr. Stephen Covey has passed away, at age 79.

Read Tom Peters' tribute to Dr. Covey here, which includes:

One simply cannot pay tribute to Stephen Covey without saying at the outset that he was a lovely human being.

News stories:

I had the good fortune, thanks to the kind people at the Shingo Prize organization, to meet Dr. Covey (who was newly involved with their work) in 2010 and was given the chance to talk 1×1 and to interview him for my podcast.

From the podcast:

Mark Graban: The one question I would ask for your thoughts on is Toyota's principle of “respect for people,” or often referred to as “respect for humanity.” Could you share some thoughts on the importance of respect in workplace, what does that really mean?

Dr. Covey: I think that it's of profound importance because it means you are caring and you trust them to do the right thing.

As I wrote about in 2010, the chance to speak with Dr. Covey was special. Even in a crowded room at a reception, he was incredibly “present” and, during our chat (both the recording and afterward), I felt like I was (at that moment) the most important person in the world to Dr. Covey. It was a humbling moment and a reminder that I need to try much harder at being half as present as he was in that moment. What a gift he gave to me, his full and undivided attention. It's still a very vivid memory… and I'll remember him as an incredibly kind and thoughtful man, not just a successful author and speaker.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleVideo on a “2-Bin” Kanban System at a Pennsylvania Hospital
Next articlePodcast #152 – Matt Stewart, “Walk On,” Lessons from Northwestern’s Unlikely Rose Bowl Run
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Some quotes shared on Twitter:

    ‘What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.’ -Stephen Covey

    “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent & not enough time on what is important.” Stephen Covey

    “The way we see the problem is the problem.” Stephen Covey

    “One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.” Stephen Covey

    “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” ~ Stephen Covey

    The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Stephen R Covey

    Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.~Stephen R. Covey

  2. Dr Covey was one of those rare people, who constantly promoted the same message, and could not only point out the theory behind the message, but its common sense, logic, and reral world application.

    If more organizations were run on his teachings, change, improvement, growth and opportunity would be the order of the day.

    As we miss the living man we need to embrace his teachings, and accept our role to pass them on to those we meet with, both in how we act and in what we do, as well as in what we teach to others.

    If we all listen to what Stephen taught us and acting with respect and integrity in our lives and looking after the little things in our relationships, we can help create the better world he wanted us to have and live in.

    I owe him much of the happiness in my life, because his teaching taught me; the right way to care for those around me, and the way to live my life so that I can stand myself.

  3. “Principles before practice” and the “clean and green story” are two of the lasting thoughts from Dr. Covey that continue to form my habits. Dr. Covey was a true gentleman in every sense. His inspirational legacy will be with us for many years.

  4. Sad news indeed. Dr. Covey was one of the most influential people in the world today having a tremendous personal impact on people. He embodied the lean principle of “Respect for People”.

  5. He will be missed. I learned so much from the 7 Habits that made me a better person (not just “more effective”), and am deeply grateful for that.

    • Hi Jocky

      I too, feel Covey did far more to make me a better person, I was an effective individual before. And I think that his main goal was to improve us as people, and organizations, and making us more effective at the same time was the bonus he gave us. In everything he was involved with there was always the underlying message that to be better at something you had to first be better as a person.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.