Be Proactive! Most Essential Habit For Success!

This is one of the seven habits laid down by Stephen Covey in his best selling book, The Seven Secrets of Highly Effective People. It has sold more than 25 million copies all over the world and is one of the best inspirational and motivational books of all time.

What is the main characteristic of the word “PROACTIVE”. Being “PROACTIVE” means taking responsibility for all your actions. Proactive people take ownership of their work. The word responsible itself means “Response-able” which means we have the power to choose our response.

Proactive people do not blame external factors like genetics, environment, conditions, or conditioning for their actions. On the other hand, reactive people try to find different excuses for not achieving their desired results. The language and the words which people use is a critical factor which differentiates Proactive people with Reactive people.

Reactive language,

  • “There’s nothing I can do”
  • “They won’t allow that”
  • “I can’t”
  • “I must”
  • “If only”

Whenever you feel using such language, replace it with positive words,

  • “Let’s look at alternatives”
  • “I prefer”
  • “I can choose a different approach”
  • “I will”

Stephen Covey explains,  “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response,” He gives the example of Victor Frankl who went through so much struggle and hardship in the concentration camps. But Frankl realized that he had the power to choose the response to the stimuli and there is a gap between the two. Frankl chose the response of positiveness, hopefulness, and freedom which is quite different from the other response which people would have opted for.

Frankl believed, “A man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him — mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.”

Reactive people feel that stimulus and response are welded together. They let the conditions and environment rule them rather than taking control of the external factors.

Circle of Concern Vs Circle of Influence.

Circle of Concern is that part over which we have no control. It can be the weather, it could be the behavior of other people, a national treasure, economy, national disasters. Now we can never have control over such things. But Reactive people keep on thinking about this circle of concern which results in them becoming negative and prone to failure. Covey explains this “focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization.”

Circle of Influence defines those areas over which we have got complete control. It could be our health, our finances, our skills. Proactive people focus on these areas and achieve results based on these rather than continuously worrying about things over which they have no control. When we focus on our circle of influence we get a feeling of empowerment, which prompts us to take positive action.

Proactive People based on their attitude and behavior gradually take control over things which are in the Circle of Concern and bring them into their Circle of Influence.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, No one can hurt you without your consent. Covey agrees:

Covey says, It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character.

Covey has suggested a simple exercise in his book to become proactive.

For thirty days, commit to working only on your Circle of Influence. How? Keep your commitments, to yourself and others. Don’t judge or criticize other people, but turn your attention inward. Don’t argue. Don’t make excuses. When you make a mistake, accept responsibility, and fix it. Don’t blame or accuse. When you catch yourself thinking “I have to…” or “If only…”, stop yourself and choose to reframe the thought in a more positive light. As far as possible, accept responsibility for your circumstances, actions, and feelings.

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