The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Be Proactive


This month we are exploring Habit 1 from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits: Be Proactive.

Proactivity refers to more than simply taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Proactive people’s behavior is a function of their decisions, not their conditions. While a reactive person will be affected by the weather being “good” or “bad,” for instance, a proactive person will not.

Proactive people are value-driven. If one of their values is to produce quality work, it won’t depend on favorable weather or circumstances. Proactive people strive to deeply and honestly say, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” and “I am able to choose otherwise.”

In one’s life, many events occur every day. Of these events, there is only a small subset that is of actual concern to each individual. Within that subset, there is an even smaller set that one can actually impact and/or control: one’s sphere of influence. A proactive person spends time focusing on only what he or she can control.

Proactivity is part of human nature, and although the “proactive muscles” may be dormant, as Covey mentions, they are certainly there! To stimulate those muscles, here is a simplified example of one of Covey’s application suggestions: For a full day, listen to your own language and the language of people around you. Pay attention to how many times you hear the reactive phrase “I have to” or “I can’t.” Remember that you always have a choice!



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