3 Lessons in Business Success from Stephen Covey

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July 19, 2012

Today we pay tribute to Stephen R. Covey, a fine author, businessman and motivational speaker. Best known for his novel “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Covey’s straightforward directions have inspired people from all walks of life for decades. Here are three personal favorites of mine — all of which are timelessly applicable to the world of business.

Character is Critical

SC: “Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”

This speaks directly to culture. It’s important to increase self awareness and keep an eye on our mannerisms. As Ariana Huffington recently noted, “Our culture has a way of collectively falling into the groove of conventional wisdom, whether that means seeing everything through the outdated prism of left vs. right, or willfully blinding ourselves to unpleasant or inconvenient facts.”

Personal gut checks are like physicals: you’ve got to reassess often if you want to stay healthy.

Use your Imagination

SC: “Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

Innovation will never not be hot, but the speed of it will continue to fluctuate. In business, that calls to mind to an increasingly common adage: if you don’t disrupt your own business, someone else will.

Our own CEO, Scott Raskin, discussed this way of thinking in detail a few months back:

“As a CEO it’s in my job description to seek out opportunities for healthy risk taking, but as employees of the 21st century we could all benefit from this mentality. A good dose of paranoia goes a long way by keeping us on our toes, thinking differently and prepared to pivot when need be. In time I think we’ll all see that it’s this kind of momentum that truly allows course correction as well as successful business agility.”

Don’t be afraid to have or share your ideas. A business inspired is an inspirational business.

Constants: Change, Choice and Principles

SC: “There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.”

To the great dismay of leaders rooted in their own processes, the subject of change has been an increasingly popular one. Stefan Kohn, head of innovation management at Fuji lm Europe, believes that the reason most people take issue with the Agile approach is their fear of change itself. “Companies sometimes choose to neglect change. Those that are truly agile embrace it, even when it risks cannibalising an existing product.”

Agility is risky business by nature, but it’s an important quality for successful evolution. It’s change and the choice to do so that grant continued success, and so long as they’re backed by the same core principals, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

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