Habit 1 – Be Proactive

The first habit of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Peoplebe proactive.

Humans are indeed a unique species in that we have the ability to condition and recondition ourselves. Our response to any given stimulus is influenced primarily by four “endowments that make us uniquely human” (70).

  • Self-awareness
    • Thinking about your very thought process
  • Imagination
    • Creating in our minds
  • Conscience
    • Having an inherent idea of right and wrong
  • Independent will
    • Acting on our own self-awareness

Dr. Covey makes repeated references to the “social mirror”, or the perception of ourselves which is dictated by outsiders. If left unchecked, these perceptions (known as paradigms) will impede the strengthening of our proactive lifestyles and possibly force us towards reactive responses. Whereas proactive people take the initiative to choose how to respond to certain stimuli, reactive individuals are highly influenced by their environments and other outside factors.

According to Dr. Covey, one of the best ways to examine the our self-awareness is by thinking about all the things which concern us, and among them, those which we actually have an influence over. Being proactive empowers people to expand their “circle of influence” and better deal with direct control, indirect control, and no control problems.

There are some people who interpret “proactive” to be mean pushy, aggressive, or insensitive; but that isn’t the case at all. Proactive people aren’t pushy. They’re smart, they’re value driven, they read reality, and they know what’s needed.

I think naturally, I tend to be pretty proactive about all parts of my life; however, I’m also guilty of the “If only I had…” syndrome. The problem isn’t out there; therefore, I have to address it within me. Maintaining the “inside-out” way of thinking is a must.

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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more my friend. I’ve always been a proactive person, even though I hadn’t known it to be true for a long time. It wasn’t until I took my first psych class that I came to understand some of the personality traits I possessed that contributed to my stress-free nature. I take objective looks at reality and deal with the things in my control before I start to worry about the things that are beyond my reach. Even the things that aren’t in my control are usually manageable. I admit the occasional final exam has me stressing a bit, but usually I can handle a huge workload because I know how to manage it.

    I hope good humor is included in those seven habits you’re analyzing, because there is nothing more important than being able to laugh at your mistakes, laugh when its funny, and to just laugh because it’s the only thing we can really do in this mad world. That would be the first of my seven habits if I could come up with six more.

    • I totally agree with you about the role of laughter. After finishing 2/3rds of the book, I’ve surprisingly come across only one tiny reference to it. 🙁 Glad to hear from you again!


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