I just heard that renowned leadership expert and author of the best-seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey, has died at age 79 following injuries he sustained in a bicycle accident three months ago. I had the opportunity to record a phone interview with Mr. Covey a couple of years ago. I also met him when he appeared on The Christophers’ TV show about six or seven years ago. My primary impression when I met him was not just that he was a smart man, but also that he was a kind person who was bursting with joy.
Most guests we booked would be friendly when they arrived at the studio and were introduced to the host and crew members. Covey was not only friendly; he burst into song.
When I took him into the make-up room to meet our make-up artist, Janet, he spontaneously started singing “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!” Janet appreciated the compliment, and the whole crew was left smiling at this unexpected performance. In that impromptu moment, Covey put everyone at ease and demonstrated an important leadership principle, whether he intended to or not. If you can connect with people on an individual level, inspire respect in them, and even make them smile, they’ll want to do a good job for you. You won’t just be a boss; you’ll be a leader. Covey obviously practiced what he preached which accounts for his ongoing success in sharing these lessons with others.
Another passing of note this weekend was Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm, age 95, who appeared on several Christopher TV programs with our founder, Father James Keller, during the 1950s – and who was a guest at several Christopher Awards ceremonies over the last decade. It just so happens that my primary memory of Ms. Holm also involves a song. During one of the Awards ceremonies hosted by our then-Director, Msgr. Jim Lisante, he asked her to come on stage and the two of them sang an impromptu rendition of “Accentuate the Positive,” a classic song that reflects the Christopher approach to life. It was a sweet moment, and all of us at The Christophers remember Ms. Holm as the epitome of class, grace, humor and dignity.
We offer our prayers and condolences to the families of Stephen Covey and Celeste Holm as they grieve their loss.