Remembering Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar

Two great men who were mentors and friends to me passed away this year—Stephen R. Covey in July and Zig Ziglar just this past week. I’d like to share a few thoughts about these wonderful guys.

Stephen Covey was a devoted husband to his wife, Sandra, and dedicated father of nine, grandfather of fifty-two, and great-grandfather of six. He was also a great friend and colleague to many, including me.

A great memory I have of Steve was when we did a session together in Salt Lake City. During my presentation, I talkedstephen_covey about how the most popular management philosophy was “Seagull Management,” where managers don’t come around until something goes wrong—and then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody, and fly out.  That line normally got a good laugh from audiences, but not this time. Then Steve whispered to me, “Ken, the seagull is the state bird of Utah.” Oops!  He later told me about the role the seagull played in Mormon history.  When the early Mormons were settling in Utah and planting their fields, they were plagued by swarms of locusts that began eating all of their crops. The people thought they were going to starve to death. At one point they looked up and saw a huge cloud of seagulls flying toward them. They thought the seagulls were coming to finish off what the locusts hadn’t eaten.  Instead, the seagulls ended up eating all of the locusts, saving the settlers’ harvest and their very lives. Steve even took me to the place in downtown Salt Lake City where they have a statue of a seagull.

Steve was such an inspiration and a teacher to so many.  He was a giant in our field and a very special human being.  His legacy here on earth will go on for years to come.

Zig Ziglar had a big impact on me. During the times we were on the platform together, he modeled for me that it was okay to share my faith as long as I wasn’t trying to convert folks. He told me, “Your faith is part of who you are, and people want to know what makes you tick and what is important in your life.”

Zig ZWhen I was 65, I called Zig because Margie and I had been invited to the 59th Anniversary of his 21st birthday. I asked him, “Zig, are you going to retire?” I will never forget his reply: “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible!  Except for Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and David, nobody in the Bible under 80 years of age made much of an impact. I’m not retiring—I’m re-firing!”  What a difference his phrase of “re-firing” has made in my life the last eight years.  I quote him all the time. In fact, I’m working on a book on “re-firement” and my coauthor and I are going to dedicate the book to Zig.

One last thing I learned from Zig.  He once told me, “I never met a golf game I didn’t like.”  Ever since, I play a lot of N.A.T.O. golf—Not Attached To Outcome—and I enjoy the game so much more. He was an inspiration to everyone fortunate enough to meet him.

It’s always tough to lose important people in our lives. I think the best way to honor them is to make sure you reach out—today—to the people you love, and tell them how important they are. As Margie says: “Keep your I-love-yous up to date.” You’ll never regret it.

Thanksgiving Thoughts from Ken

This week brings one of my very favorite holidays—Thanksgiving. I love it because it’s not focused on gifts and things like that. It’s about what everyone brings to the table. You pass around the turkey and the dressing and all, and it’s a chance for everyone to really express what they are thankful for. I hope you’ll be able to do that.

I’m thankful that I live in this country. I’m thankful that I had a wonderful mom and dad who always lifted me up and a great sister who encouraged me constantly. I’m grateful that I met my wife Margie and she’s been my companion and my love and my partner for over fifty years now—it’s unbelievable. I’m thankful for our son Scott and our daughter Debbie and what they’ve brought to my life, and all of our grandkids who are all really special. I’m blessed to have a sweet little dog, Joy, who is a perfect example of unconditional love. I’m thankful for a wonderful God who loves me and loves you and loves all of us. I’m grateful that I’m healthier and in better shape than I have been in years. I’m thankful for everyone in our company. I think we’ve created a wonderful place and we want to continue to build on that as we go forward. We’re all in it together and we support each other.

I like to say, “Life is a very special occasion—don’t miss it.” Part of that is being thankful for the blessings you have. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t troubles along the way. But life is a very special occasion. Every day when we wake up we need to be thankful that we have another day to share and be with people and maybe make a difference.

So this week, reach out to the people you really care about and love, and tell them you care. I’m wishing you all the very best and I’m thankful that we all have an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Have a wonderful holiday. Recognize how blessed you are and reach out and tell people that you love them.  Take care.

Keep Your To-Do List in Perspective

This is the time of year when a lot of people get stressed. You know—running around, making sure they have every present bought and everything done for holiday and new years parties and all that. The holidays can turn into a burden rather than a blessing. This is supposed to be the season of joy and love, not of trouble and hassle. Stress is a major problem this time of year because people have so many “to do” lists. They forget why they’re doing it and get too much into the doing. Too often this time of year we’re human doings rather than human beings. I just want you to check yourself, as I need to check myself as I run around and try to get things done at the end of the year, that I’m a human being, not a human doing.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t get things done and crossed off your list—just don’t make “list accomplishment” the goal of this holiday season.

Make LOVE the goal of the season. Reach out to everyone you talk to and wish them the greatest holiday—the greatest Christmas—the greatest New Year. Just tell them you care about them. Maybe you couldn’t find right present for someone. Perhaps you should sit down and write that person a note about how much you care about them and let them know you’ll send them something after the holidays. Sometimes during this time of year, I like to go through my phone directory and call people I haven’t talked to in a while, and just tell them I care about them. That, to me, is a joyful thing to do this time of year. So what can you do to make this a joyous time, rather than a hassled time?

Have a wonderful Christmas day. Life is a very special occasion if you keep your “to do” list in perspective.

Make Love Your Goal for the Holidays

You know, at this time of year you can really get yourself hassled. You know, running around, making sure you have every present bought and everything done and all that. And life can be a burden rather than a joy. This is supposed to be the season of joy and love, not of burden and hassle and all those kinds of things. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to get things done and cross things off your list, but don’t make “list accomplishment” the goal of this holiday season. Make LOVE the goal of this holiday. If you couldn’t find the right present for someone – maybe you should sit down and write that person a note about how much you care about them and that you’ll send them something after the holidays. Stress is a major problem this time of year because people have so many “to do” lists. They forget why they’re doing it and get too much into the doing. Too often this time of year we’re human doings rather than human beings. I just wanted to check for you, as well as myself as I run around and try to get things done at the end of the year, that I’m a human being, not a human doing.  So reach out to anybody you talk to and wish them the greatest holiday, the greatest the greatest New Year, and just tell them you care about them. Maybe that’s what you ought to do. What I like to do this time of year, too, is to go through my phone list and call people I haven’t talked to in a while, and just tell them I care about them. What can you do to make this a joyous time, rather than a hassled time?  Remember, life is a very special occasion if you keep things in perspective.