By Kent Larsen
Franklin Covey Founder Hyrum Smith Struggles Back From Excommunication
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In Saturday's Salt Lake Tribune, Franklin
Covey co-founder Hyrum Smith talked about his new book, "What Matters
Most" and about his struggle back from his 1998 excommunication from
the LDS Church. While he refused to talk about the excommunication
itself or much about the events that led to it, he did say that the
process has been a very painful experience.
Smith said that some factors made the experience more painful. "I'd
been a leader in many significant positions in the church over my
life and had sat on the other side of the table at many
excommunications, so this was a particularly painful experience for
me." Previous reports indicated that Smith had realized following the
October 1998 LDS General Conference that his life was not in order.
"I've been teaching .... for the last 20 years that the only way to
have real peace in your life is to bring what you do in line with
what you value. .... I had been teaching this for so long, .... I
said, 'You know, I'd better start practicing what I preach.'"
In spite of the nature of Smith's error, his marriage remains intact
and his family has forgiven him. And through it he kept up his
schedule. "Most of my anguish and my suffering I've kept very
private. I've had my pretty serious crying spells and all that stuff
you go through, but when I get out in the world, that's something I
don't exhibit, I don't wear on my sleeve. There have been people who
say, 'Oh, yeah? How repentant is he if he's up there still speaking?'
But there is such a thing as repentance and there is such a thing as
forgiveness, and when you screw up, you fix it and move on."
One difficult aspect of the excommunication was that it conflicted
with what Franklin Covey taught. But the company philosophy also
teaches the importance of making a change. "Our company teaches
people that making course corrections is how you bring peace into
your life. This has been very painful, but it has been worth it from
Now Smith has written a new book, "What Matters Most," which
describes the company's philosophy. It opens with a description of
his personal struggle. It also lists a number of people who,
according to Smith, 'have it all together.' They include Winston
Churchill, basketball star Michael Jordan, Mother Teresa, and even
Smith's high school teacher, Robert Niederholzer, who "introduced me
to books .... I discovered the magic of reading, and as a result of
that I had a watershed experience in my life."
Smith says that his experience has made him more spiritual. "I am in
a better place today in my relationship with the Savior than I have
ever been in my life. .... I taught the principle of a broken heart
and a contrite spirit for 40 years, but I had no idea what that meant
until this." But while he hopes to be rebaptized into the LDS Church,
that hasn't happened yet. "Why has it taken two years? I really don't
know. I think the church just wants to be sure it really is in my
The interview also reveals something of Smith's background, and he
credits his ideas about order to his mother. "I picked up the whole
idea of order from my mother. We didn't go to bed at night until
everything was in its proper place."
Excommunication to Forgiveness: How the Franklin Covey co-founder's affair devastated his family -- but taught him what matters most
Salt Lake Tribune 13Jan01 B2
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune