He’s an author, entrepreneur, organizational guru. You name it. Stephen Covey has seen and done it all when it comes
to helping people from all walks of life realize the greatness that lies within them. His first book, The 7 Habits of
Highly Effective People, which has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, was chosen as the most influential business
book of the 20th Century by Forbes magazine. In 1996, Time magazine named Covey one of the 25 most influential Americans.
Tens of millions of people in business, government, schools and families have greatly benefited by applying the principles
of Covey’s classic book.
The world, however, is a vastly different place than when Covey wrote his ground breaking book in 1989. The challenges and
complexities we all face today are of a different magnitude. Being effective as individuals and organizations is no longer
an option— survival in today’s world requires a new mindset, a new skill set and a new habit. It is what Covey
calls ‘The 8th Habit’—the answer to the soul’s yearning for greatness and humanity’s search for
SUCCESS recently talked with Stephen Covey about his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,
his ties to the direct selling industry and how everyone, regardless of business background, can find their true voice while
inspiring others to find theirs.
SUCCESS: Was there a particular spark that ignited your decision to write The 8th Habit?
SC: Well, I think the key thing that caused me to get into this material was an awareness that came about
five or six years ago of how the shift from the industrial age to the knowledge worker economy has become so profound. The
world has changed drastically since The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published in 1989. Being effective
as individuals and organizations is no longer enough in today’s world. In this new “Knowledge Worker Age,”
people will be required to build on and reach beyond effectiveness. The call for this new age is for greatness and a longing
to gain fulfillment, experience passion and to contribute to society. Getting access to these higher levels of human genius
and motivation requires a new mindset, a new skill set, a new tool set; essentially an entirely new habit. The 8th Habit is
about finding your voice while inspiring others to find theirs.
SUCCESS: You spent years of research in preparation for The 8th Habit. Can you tell us
a little about the fact gathering process that led you to your findings?
SC: For instance, I found that throughout most of the 20th century, only 20 to 30 percent of the value
added goods and services came from knowledge work. Today, it’s 70 to 80 percent. This points to the absolute necessity
to get out of the industrial age practices, which suppress the release of human potential, and into the “Knowledge Worker
Age” that unleashes and realizes the greatness of human potential. We also gathered all kinds of data on how alienated
most people are in their job environments and how much compartmentalization and lack of trust there is, how disempowered and
frustrated people are.
SUCCESS: From what we’ve learned, your findings are being confirmed by many that attend your
speaking engagements. Tell us a little about the feedback you’ve received so far.
SC: I ask two questions of the audience right up front that really hit them hard. The first one is, “How
many of you have achieved your level of success, whatever it may be, partly or largely because someone believed in you when
you didn’t believe in yourself?” You’ll find that immediately about 60 to 70 percent of the hands in the
room will go up. And if you listen to their stories, they become very tearful and emotional and so authentic and real that
others around them also become quite emotional. The second question I ask points out the disempowerment that is out there.
I ask them, “How many agree that the vast majority of the workforce possesses a lot more talent and capacity and passion
and intelligence and creativity than their present jobs require or even allow them to use?” Nearly every hand goes up.
It just goes to prove that the industrial age model is really sick and even though it’s still the dominant model, it’s
becoming increasingly obsolete. It suppresses the human spirit so terribly.
SUCCESS: Does The 8th Habit make the other 7 Habits irrelevant?
SC: I get this question a lot and the answer is no. The 7 Habits are more essential than ever. The greater
the change and more difficult the challenges, the more relevant they become. The 7 Habits are about becoming highly effective.
They represent a complete framework of timeless principles. The 8th Habit is not about adding one more habit to the other
7, it’s about seeing and harnessing the power of a third dimension to the 7 Habits that meets the central challenge
of the new Knowledge Worker Age. The 7 Habits are the foundation and are based on general truths like taking responsibility,
being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, thinking win-win and using the golden rule. These are all foundations of
general truths that are accepted throughout society. But to find your voice, coupled with your unique calling to inspire others
to find their voice is a very a personal truth.
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