The above book has been highly popular. Stephen Covey will still be laughing all the way to the bank. In my commuting days, I saw it in the hands of many other commuters! So this is a series dedicated to those habits as they are well worth returning to from time to time. Something that effective does not become ineffective overnight of course. So lets learn some good professional habits over the next few weeks.
“Habit 1 – Be Proactive”
“we can choose our own response to any signal or information we receive. We have the ability to influence our own actions. Therefore, being proactive means to actively choose what our response will be in any situation rather than to react blindly”.
Powerful words indeed. This choice distinguishes man (or woman) from every other creature on our planet. This is why we can learn new practices and evaluate our experiences. It is the core principle of self awareness – vital for any leader to be successful. Choosing how to respond to situations requires a combination of:
- self awareness – the ability to control thoughts
- imagination – the ability to mentally create a new reality
- conscience – an inner awareness of right and wrong
- independent will – the ability to act on thoughts
So animals can’t, but humans can, write their own directions and either chose to be reactive or proactive, as a result. This is the true meaning of RESPONSE-ABILITY, the ability to choose our own responses.
Proactive people are highly responsible and driven by values that are well thought out and internalised. They do not get swept away by the heat of the moment. It does not mean being pushy, aggressive or insensitive. No doubt many of us have seen that badged as proactivity in the past. It’s not! Rather, it means to control a situation from the inside out, affecting positive change. If you can stop focussing on the immediate circumstances and rather, turn to considering your own response to the conditions that exist, then you will have removed the power of anything external, to affect you.
People who know me are familiar with my mantra: “Actions have consequences”. Actions we can choose, consequences we cannot, which is why the former is so important.
So it is in ordinary, everyday events, that we can develop proactive skills. In these ordinary, small events, we show our true character and given that our response to irritations can determine our responses to disasters, we should practice this on the little things first don’t you think?!
Homework this week: pick one small event that you will practice this technique on and reflect how it was different to your usual response. Then let us know about it!