Several years ago I had an opportunity to speak to a group as one of two planned speakers. The other speaker was Stephen Covey. Yes, it was a little intimidating and before I mention one of his books I will tell you a little about it. It was at a Singles Ward in our Church. He was the invited speaker and I was the assigned speaker from our Stake. I had no idea that I was going to precede him that day. I sat by this bald guy on the stand and wondered who he was at first.
At the time we were living in Salt Lake City and it was easy enough to pull a speaker from the Provo area if someone had a connection. I wish I could tell you what I talked about that day, or even what he talked about. I just don't remember but I do remember how I felt. This is sort of the flip side of Maya Angelo. Remember she said:
“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Well I could change that to read like this: At the end of 20 years you won't remember anything about what you said when you were the first speaker with a man like Stephen Covey, but you will remember how you felt. I remember clearly that no matter what I said as the first speaker that no one would want me to be taking up the time.
When I was in college I took a speech class. The last time we each presented a talk to the class was a big factor in our grades. I had a very good speech ready and knew I would do well. What I didn't know was that the speech before me was so good it blew everyone away. We were awestruck. When I got up I just gave my speech. I should have gotten an A. It was a good. When the instructor discussed my talk with the class afterwards he said the lesson to be learned was that when you follow a amazing speech the only chance you have is to diffuse the excitement. He said don't just jump in with your message but comment on how wonderful the other message was and let the excitement come down a little. I got a B because I didn't do that.
When I preceded Stephen Covey I did think of that. I figured the excitement was coming, so I shortened my talk some. I also mentioned that I was excited to hear from him. It seemed to work.
I wrote a new post in the Creativity Tab about "The Habit of Creativity". In that post I mentioned Stephen Coveys book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I do want to recommend that book. Those habits can help creativity, and also help us develop personal excellence.
Aristotle said “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. It is choice, not chance that determines your destiny.” It seems clear that excellence can be the end result of good habits.
The 7 habits are listed below. The book was first written in 1989 just a couple of years before my speaking event happened. These habits are still of value and I would recommend the book and these habits for your study.
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen The Saw