Live Life in Crescendo: A book review by Bob Morris

Live Life in Crescendo: Your Most Important Work Is Always Ahead of You
Stephen R. Covey and Cynthia Covey Haller
Simon & Schuster (September 2022)

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

Opinions are divided about the value of Helen Keller’s assertion. Some “great adventures” are high-risk and can result in abundant rewards, others in massive losses. Launching a new company, for example. True, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” However, Hugh Keough once suggested, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that is the way to bet.”

Cynthia Covey Haller wrote this book in collaboration with her late father, a knowledge leader who has helped millions of people to accelerate their personal growth and professional development. His 40 books continue his global influence years after his death in 2012 of a head injury from an accidental fall while riding his bicycle. Haller is the eldest of his nine children and he also had 55 grandchildren.

The focus in this book is on what Covey and Haller characterize as the “Crescendo Mentality of thinking in any stage of life.” In the Introduction, they speak with one voice and use direct address to establish an immediate rapport with their reader. Silly as it may sound, I had the feeling that they wrote the book specifically for me (I am 86) and I think most other readers — including teenagers as well as other seniors, and those for whom English is a second language — will feel the same way.

As they explain, “Living in Crescendo is a mindset and a principle of action. [I see it as an attitude, a point of view, that can help to improve decision-making, answering questions and solving problems, as well as guiding and informing initiatives such as innovation and investment.] It’s a unique perspective of approaching life through making contributions to others and always looking ahead for what can be accomplished. It redefines success from how society usually measures it.”

Years ago, Theodore Roosevelt suggested, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Covey and Haller add, “Living your Life in Crescendo means continually growing in contribution, learning, and influence. The  mindset that ‘your most important work is always ahead of you’ is an optimistic, forward-thinking mentality that teaches you can always contribute regardless of what’s happened to you or what stage you are in…In the same way music builds on previous notes but leaves us anticipating the next note or chord, your life builds on your past but unfolds in the future.”

As I read and then re-read this book, I was again reminded of an essay by Robert Greenleaf (first published in 1970) in which he explains, “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

Covey reaffirms these values in all of his books and in all of the learning materials that he developed for lectures, seminars, and workshops. Because he was both an empiricist and a pragmatist, his recommendations are based on real-world experience and deliberately practical. He understood what tends to work, what doesn’t…and WHY.

Whatever their critical stage in life may now be, many people who read this book are already convinced that it would probably be in their best interests to be guided by the values to which Covey, Haller, Roosevelt, and Greenleaf refer. The challenge for them is understanding HOW. Hence the importance of absorbing and digesting the knowledge and wisdom in Live Life in Crescendo.

Possessing speed and strength when responding to legitimate opportunities would also be advisable.

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