The first habit of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – be 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).
- Thinking about your very thought process
- Creating in our minds
- 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.