FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | July, 2012
Saturday marked my first-ever cycling road race. Oh, I’ve competed in many triathlons. But I’ve never had the luxury of drafting with a group of other cyclists for hundreds of miles.
In five and a half weeks I’ll be riding the LOTOJA Classic, the country’s longest single-stage USCF-sanctioned race, originating in Logan, Utah and finishing in the pristine mountain mecca of Jackson, Wyoming (hence the name). My new riding friends suggested that this past week’s Tour de Park City, featuring a 157 mile ride and a climb over the 10,700 ft. Bald Mountain pass, would be a ‘great warm-up’ for LOTOJA. Oh, it was a warm-up, to say the least!
It was also quite the unexpected cool-down.
Considering the mechanical failure of my rear shifter and a late flat tire (in the final one mile!), both of which added a cool 25 minutes to my time, I was able to complete the journey in 9 hours and 14 minutes. But what could have made the experience markedly more enjoyable was a pair of black, 3 ounce, polypropylene arm warmers that I chose to leave back in the car. These overly-simplistic pieces of fabric would have prevented my near hypothermic encounter with an improbable rain/sleet storm right at the top of the pass. Cold rain is bad enough on the flats. What put this experience over the top was racing through sleet at 35 to 40 miles per hour on the decent!
Several riders were taking cover – under a feed-zone canopy, under a tree, in the nearest port-a-john. I considered stopping, but realized I was getting colder and colder each time I slowed down. My choices were to try and find a dry spot and hope I wouldn’t freeze, or guarantee a bone-chilling decent by continuing on down the mountain while racing to warmer air as I would lose altitude. This is, after all, summertime in the desert, right?
I chose to speed on ahead.
My bet paid off in about 10 minutes. The air was noticeably warmer as I descended the wet road at white-knuckle, break-neck speed, all the while praying I wouldn’t slide off the gravel-riddled shoulder on a tight corner. I rehearsed my simple yet profound mistake, over and over again in my mind. “Why didn’t you bring those arm warmers?” After all, I knew better.
We know that taking 20 minutes each week to plan our week out and schedule the “big rocks” makes a profound difference in our productivity. We know that following the proven process of Visualize>Plan>Implement>Close ensures world-class project management. We get it; practice makes a presentation perfect. Yet all too often we find ourselves taking shortcuts for a myriad of reasons – the biggest being, “I just don’t have time!”
Yes. On Saturday, September 8th, I will DEFINITELY be taking my arm warmers with me, even if the day starts out at 90-degrees plus! The weight is inconsequential and the benefits of being prepared are priceless. We live and learn. I was certainly grateful to have survived Saturday’s ride and learned valuable lessons that will pay off the next time around.
My first exposure to his landmark work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was life-changing. Common sense, organized, is how many have described the principles that Stephen packaged in such understandable terms. I knew, the first time I participated in the classroom experience, that I would need to become a facilitator and share those principles with whomever I could get to listen.
In 1997 I had the privilege of partnering with a number of Covey Leadership Center professionals, among them the dedicated, gracious, and talented Nancy Moore, now a colleague of mine who leads many initiatives within our Education Division. The company I worked for at the time hosted a number of beta-test classes for an early version of Covey Leadership Center’s coursework on trust. I was asked to teach these beta versions of the class. You can imagine my surprise when Nancy asked me to co-present with Dr. Covey at the sales kick-off of Building Trust at their corporate offices in Provo, Utah. Stephen’s spirit and character were bigger in person than I had imagined. He made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. He affirmed to his team of sales professionals the timeless principles of loyalty, transparency, and empathic understanding.
During Saturday’s funeral service, all 9 of his children shared stories and thoughts about their father that reinforced the public principles he preached. His oldest son, Stephen M. R. Covey, said it most plainly. “Dad was congruent, whole, complete.” He went on to emphasize that as great an author, speaker and consultant that he was in public, in private Stephen was even better. Dr. Covey’s best friend and brother, John Covey, gave us a glimpse into Stephen’s primary motivation in life – both personal and professional. Early in their professional lives Stephen once asked John, “What do you want to do with your career?” Understanding how Stephen thought, John turned the question back to his brother. Stephen’s response was three simple yet powerful words: “Release Human Potential.”
And throughout the service, memories of Stephen did just that. Every story, every thought, every snapshot of his great life and example evoked, on one hand, feelings of inadequacy, but more importantly it inspired feelings of resolve, commitment, and desire to be a better husband, father, and friend. I hereby commit to redefine the potential I am capable of releasing in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Yes, Stephen R. Covey will be missed. But the life, learning, love, and legacy he leaves behind will endure in the work we carry on at FranklinCovey and in the lives of those touched by his great work.
Thank you, Stephen!