Following Stephen Covey's Advice

07/24/2012 09:22 am ET | Updated Sep 23, 2012

"The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself." Winston Churchill

No words better describe the climate of our society. Technology races ahead but morality lags behind. Almost every week we read scandalous stories within the world of sports, politics, finance and beyond. Today's news makes way for tomorrow's riveting revelations.

How do we respond? We intuitively sense the world is awry. Some of us sigh. Some of us seek more regulation and recriminations to avoid the next pitfall. We expend time and money on external modes of behavior modification. Yet, in reality, we realize that man's ingenuity will often find ways to circumvent the "new and effective" system of control.

We shake our heads and ask "How could we throw it all away? How can someone be so short-sighted?"

In truth, every brush with mortality must stir not a call for better regulation but an awakening to inner rejuvenation. The issue is not in our actions but our inner anchors.

Listen to the "final" words of Peregrine Financial Group Chief Executive Russell Wasendorf Sr. he penned in a suicide attempt note when he reportedly confessed to bilking futures customers of $200 million.

"I had no access to additional capital and I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat? I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated; I falsified the very core of the financial documents of PFG, the bank statements."

One choice altered his destiny.

I can guarantee you that the headlines about cases like Wasendorf's are merely the culmination of small decisions which spiraled out of control. One compromise leads to the next. Lives are ruined and the fallout shakes the foundations of our families, businesses, government and schools.

Perhaps the solution lies in heeding the words of Stephen Covey, who died this past week. In his highly acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he proposes Habit #2 -- Begin with the End in Mind.

He writes, "How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us and keeping this picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most."

Imagine for a moment how you want to be remembered. Imagine for a moment what people will say about you. Live with the end in mind and harness this vision of your ideal self to navigate your daily decisions. Integrity depends on a strong moral compass.

Perhaps if all businesses encouraged every employee to write their own eulogy twice a year, people would reflect on their legacy and muster the courage for courageous and life affirming choices.

Today's headlines can be fueled to ignite our potential.

As Covey writes, "When you begin with the end in mind, you gain a different perspective. One man asked another on the death of a mutual friend, "How much did he leave?" His friend responded, "He left it all."

What will they say about you?