24. Be Proactive

24. Be Proactive

I recently finished reading the famous book called “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, written by Stephen R. Covey. Since it was published 25 years ago, I’m way behind but I’m glad I read it now. Reading it while in a leadership role helped me to absorb the content so much better. I think everyone who wants genuine success that reaches beyond their personal glory should read this book. It will help you become the person that everyone is looking for.

The central message of the author is pretty simple. When we “see” things differently, we begin to think differently, feel differently, and finally behave differently. In order to “see” differently, “our characters” need to be changed. Genuine success comes not from learning new skills but growing in character. Author says character is made through “habits”. So the 7 habits author illustrates is focused on changing “ourselves” first, before we try to change others.

The key habit that affects all the rest is the very first habit, which is “Be Proactive”. Simply put, to be proactive means to be able to “choose” your response. When we are faced with conflicts or unwanted situations, we naturally tend to “react” by blaming others or the situations. But the problem with this approach is they are out of our “control”. (Have you ever had success changing people or situations?) And when you are out of control, you feel “helpless”. Helpless people think they are victims and victims don’t need to change. That is why reactive people let weaknesses of others determine their response. They are dependant, not independant.

Instead, the author tells us to become “proactive”. This is a revolutionary idea that impacts the rest of the 6 habits. When proactive people experience conflict with their spouse/parents/friends, instead of getting angry at “them”, they ask “what can I do differently in this situation?” Proactive people determine their own responses regardless of people’s behaviour or situations.

The author tells us that there are two circles: Circle of “concern” and circle of “influence”. The first is part you can’t control and it doesn’t change. But the latter is what you can change. When you become more proactive, your circle of influence grows bigger. As a result, you gain more freedom to choose your responses, instead of empowering others to decide your responses.

If you often think that everyone except you is the problem and feel helpless, then start looking for things you can actually change in yourself. Someone said, “no one can hurt you without your consent”. There is only one person you can change, which is “you”. Even God cannot change you unless “you” let him by making decisions according to his will. “You” are more powerful than you think.