Remembering Stephen Covey: “There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills!”

By John Trombley
The Village Business Institute

The Yukon gold rush of the 1880s and 1890s was on. Today while the price of gold continues to stagger the mind and jelly the knees, chances are most of us will not become rich as gold prospectors. At least not in that way. But riches still await those who are willing to seek them out.

We recently heard the news that Dr. Stephen R. Covey, noted author and gifted thinker left this world–a world that is a richer place for his having been here. For those familiar with his classic, enduring work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his untimely death will cause us to open those yellow, dog-eared pages and re-read his transformational words, seeking out the gold that lies among those seven principles in the hopes of mining them for their great value.

It is one thing to feel “warm and fuzzy” as we read from Covey and find ourselves imagining the “what-ifs.” What if I were more pro-active? What if I actually begin a project with the end in mind? What if I put first things first, think win-win, or seek first to understand? It’s an entirely different thing, however, to actually live those principles out on a consistent basis. Pretty soon, we forget to remember as we focus on one spinning plate and then another. As life, work, family, friends, societal problems and personal needs all seem to pull on us at the same time, it is easy to lose sight of the “big picture” as we zero in on a pressing concern or need. That is the nature of our limitations as humans. But that doesn’t provide us with an adequate excuse to stop trying. It simply provides the context within which we strive and struggle to keep all those plates spinning at the same time.

Therefore, we need to increase our Production Capacity by proactively embracing a thirst for more knowledge and a deeper understanding, not only in and of our respective areas of expertise, but also in disparate areas of interest as well. When we are experts in our chosen fields, people will seek us out for our knowledge. But when we hitch our expertise to a wagon that is full of broader perspectives and the studied understanding of many other things, we will also be given the opportunity to expand our influence across organizational boundaries and have a part in creating a more enduring legacy for those who follow.

So for all of you Stephen Covey fans out there, let me encourage you to sharpen the saw and create synergy in all you do.

Rest well, Stephen; you left a lot of gold for the rest of us to grow rich upon.

About the blogger:
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Institute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

With over 16 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.

For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or