This is the second in a series of articles providing a chapter-by-chapter in-depth “book club” reading of Mr. Stephen Covey’s classic “the 7th habits of highly effective people”.
I’m reading from the 2004 Free Press paperback edition. This entry covers the first habit: be proactive.
What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life.
First, a definition: proactivity means more than taking initiative, it means being responsible for our own lives, to be able to choose our response.
In contrast, reactive people are affected by their social environment: when people treat them well, they feel well, when don’t they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behaviour of others, empowering other people to control them. They are driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, environment.
Proactive people are driven by values; they are still influenced by external stimuli but their response is a value-based choice. They are not pushy or aggressive, that’s not the actual meaning.
Circle of concern vs. circle of influence
We each have a wide range of concerns: our health, children, problems at work, the national debt, etc. These things are part of our “circle of concern” (CC). For some of those things we can do something about it, for others we have really no control. The former are part of our “circle of influence” (CI).
- Proactive people focus their efforts in the CI. They have a CC that is at least as big as their CI.
- Reactive people focus their efforts in the CC.
Next: Habit 2