Stephen Covey passed away this past Monday. I learned about his death first on TV and then I read his obituary in the New York Times: Stephen R. Covey, Herald of Good Habits, Dies at 79.

Looking back now, I think my father, Coach John Wooden and Stephen Covey taught me how to have a successful career. I read his books, listened to audio and watched video of his presentations and passed them on to others. As readers I have coached know I quote him frequently to make a point.

Yesterday I read: Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him by Greg McKeown. I found it really resonated with me. I was at first struck by the title. Why would someone not want to be like Stephen Covey? Here is how McKeown answered that question:

What I learned from Stephen was not to be like him. The principle that captures my own sense is: “Follow not in the footsteps of the masters, but rather seek what they sought.”

McKeown ended his blog with this:

There are many who want to be like Stephen Covey. There are many who didn’t like the way his ideas were expressed or applied. But Stephen was a man who was in the arena trying to teach and make a difference. In this pursuit, I do aspire to be like him.

When I first read his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I marveled at the simple reminders of how I could live a purposeful life. I created a mission statement for myself. I thought about my priorities. I began to plan each week around my roles, listing my personal roles before my work roles. I began having father-daughter Saturday afternoons with my daughter Jill. We continued this practice until she graduated from high school.

As you likely remember, I recently wrote Use Stephen Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People for Career Planning and Client Development. I listed my thoughts on practicing law and client development for each of the seven habits. His Habit 3 to “Put First Things First” made a strong impact on me. In this habit I learned to prioritize what was important to me in my life and career.

In September 2011, I wrote: When Should You Say No? In that blog I included a link to a webinar Christy Crider presented titled: At the Top: Career Success and Life Fulfillment by Using Time Wisely. Christy used materials from our coaching sessions to teach others how to spend both work and personal time based on priorities. Her webinar has been watched by 100s of lawyers and law students in the US and Canada.

In that blog I also included one of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes:

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

To make his point about deciding and living your life based on your highest priorities and saying no to other things, Stephen Covey frequently told the story of the big rocks. You can watch the story in this video.

As you will see in the video, you have to put the big rocks in first. What are the big rocks in your career? What are the big rocks in your life?

Do you have a favorite Stephen Covey quote that has influenced your life and career? If so, please share it as a comment below.