07/18/2012 02:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Stephen Covey Inspired Me to Become an Author

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died Monday at age 79.

Those of you who've heard my story know that Dr. Covey was my inspiration for becoming an author, speaker and coach.

The year was 1993. I was browsing through my church's bookstore when -- and I swear I am not making this up -- something fell off the shelf and hit me on the side of the head.

I bent down to see what it was. A tape set (yes, this was in the days of CASSETTE TAPES) entitled "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

Hmm, I said to myself. Sounds interesting. (I'd never heard of it before.)

I listened to it in my car... four times in a row.

By the time I got home, tears were streaming down my face.

Because I knew that I had been living "The 7 Habits of Highly IN-effective People."

I made a decision then and there that I would somehow learn how to make a difference in the lives of others, and stop living such a selfish, self-centered life. That I would write a book someday. And maybe hope to influence others the way Dr. Covey had influenced me.

Fast forward to 1996. I was back in college studying Leadership and decided to write a paper on highly effective leadership principles. Wouldn't it be amazing, I thought, if I could interview Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People -- the book that had started my journey on this path?

So I decided to take a chance and call his office. (This was before Franklin Planners had merged with Covey Leadership Center.)

I spoke with one of Dr. Covey's assistants and told her about my paper. She said, "Can you hold please?" and a minute later got back on the line and said, "How is next Thursday for you?"

My jaw hit the floor.

And that's how I got 20 uninterrupted minutes with Dr. Stephen Covey. I'll never forget our interview. (Unfortunately, I didn't make a recording; all that remains is my memory of that remarkable conversation.)

When I spoke with him, he was exactly what you would want Stephen Covey to be -- humble, self-effacing, brilliant and forthright.

At the end of our interview, he said, "Thank you, Noah -- I'm sorry I have to go now, but there are some TV people here waiting to talk to me."

Here I am, this "no-name from Maine" talking with Dr. Stephen Covey... for all I know, it could be Diane Sawyer waiting in the other room... and he's talking to ME???

It was an experience I'll always treasure.

A few years later, I was again humbled and honored when Dr. Covey gave me a testimonial for my book The Secret Code of Success. He read my manuscript and wrote a personal endorsement that proudly appears on the back cover.

For years, I had dreamed of having Dr. Stephen Covey endorse my work; for it to finally happen was a dream come true.

I'm truly saddened by the fact that I didn't get to spend more time with this great man. I had been planning a trip to see him, but for some reason, "never got around to it."

Let that be a lesson to all of us: If there's someone on your "bucket list" who you want to spend time with, don't delay. Don't procrastinate. Don't put it off.

Do it today.

Make that phone call.

Write that thank-you note.

Reach out and touch someone you admire.

The world has lost a great man and a true hero.

Thank you, Dr. Covey for reminding us of what greatness really is.

Please comment and share if something in today's message resonated with you.

Noah St. John is the inventor of Afformations and bestselling author of The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins).

Noah is the world's most quoted expert on how to clear your head trash. Free video training at