Covey’s first habit is “Be Proactive” in listening to this chapter, one of the most profound analogies for me was the concept of “between stimulus and response is a space” and in that space is my freedom to choose how I will respond and in this choice is also the capacity to exercise my freedom and joy. No one can take this from me unless I give it away. It seems in today’s world there all kinds of messages that communicate to us who we she be, what we should have, how we should act, who we should blame, what we lack and what we should purchase in order to fill that lack. The idea is there is no need to think too deeply because there is someone who has the answers and that someone is not us.
However, it is my experience that when we give away our ability to choose for ourselves, we allow others to lead us and they may not always have our best interest in mind. Even as parents, we lovingly try to direct our children in the way we think they should go, but as our children grow into adulthood we look back and see that what we may have thought was best, may not always have proven so. Additionally, as adults ourselves, although we know our parents did the best they knew how, as adults we see how there were times the answers and direction they gave was not always the best answer.
Dr. Covey gives a wonderful example of how even in the raising of his own child, how important it was to teach his son how to exercise the habit of being proactive in his life. This is not always easy because it is so much easier to leave the responsibility to others to make decisions for us and then play the victim when things go wrong, This is where our reactive personalities live, looking for others to blame. But truly is this how we want to live our lives. In constant fear that things will go wrong, because no one really knows what is best for us, except us. However, it will take effort on our part to decide what is really best for us…we choose the response between the space. This is empowering and each time we exercise our right to choose our response from our best selves or place of self-awareness, we become stronger and more self-assured. This is a gift we give ourselves and we free our loved ones from the responsibility of making choices for us, choices that they were never supposed to make. In these moments, we become our best selves or become more self-aware. Dr. Covey lists several ways to become more self aware.
1st listen to our language. Is it reactive language or proactive language? For example, when I say there is nothing I can do, this is reactive language. However, when I respond with “Let’s look at alternative”, this is proactive. Another example used is in how we express love. To a reactive person love is a feeling…to a proactive person “love is a verb”. As a verb it becomes our actions that display love not our words.
2nd is our “circle of concern”, our circle of concern is displayed in how we spend our time. We may say that spending time with our family is top on our list of concerns, but our actions may reflect differently. We may feel the need to blame our jobs or our spouses, our kids…but some where in this do we have alternatives or better yet, can we create alternatives. What things do we have the power to influence, can we choose to find a way to incorporate our work day so that it involves our children. Can we share a meal together at the office. Can we make a date and make sure we let those around us know that this is a priority for us? Or can we cut down on some of our empty time, like watching those reruns, and spend it with our families doing activities that allow us to know each other better. There is no disagreement that there are things in life we have no control of. However, if we look at the things we do have control of, it is in this space that we can exercise our ability to be proactive to begin the next habit of “putting first things first”. Make the commitment today.
What things stood out for you in the reading of “Being Proactive” and how can you begin to incorporate this into your life?