In the previous article, we reviewed Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective people. We understood how alignment of actions with natural principles, balance of production and production capacity are important. In this post, we will look at the first habit which is “Be Proactive”. This is one of the habits associated with the self.
Covey writes that a unique human endowment is “Self Awareness”. This is something that other life forms in the world do not possess. Some examples of Self Awareness are: self evaluation, learning from our experiences and learning from experiences of others. We have the ability not only to be trained, but also choose a training that suits us or even create a training.
The term ‘proactivity’ is used a lot by modern organizations as a buzz word. While it refers mainly to taking the initiative, Covey explains that it goes well beyond that. According to him, proactivity also means that we are responsible for our lives and that our behavior is a function of our decisions and not conditions. We do not blame circumstances or others for problems that we face.
I work in the area of customer support and one of the areas we focus on is proactive support. What is it that is different in proactive support? A few differentiators are:
We see that the proactive support model give us a much higher probability of improving customer satisfaction, increasing their success and encourage our customers to give us more business. It also improves the quality of our products, since we use feedback from the field and pass it on to the developers who work on enhancing the product.
We are all subject to Stimuli from the outside. Covey says that between Stimuli and Response, we have the ability to choose. A proactive person thinks and chooses an appropriate response to the stimulus he or she receives. For example, one of our customers might come to us with a very harsh criticism. Now while the criticism might lack professionalism, the basis for the criticism may be justified. A proactive approach to the situation is to carefully analyze the problem in hand and focus on getting a solution for the problem.
During India’s Independence Struggle, Mahatma Gandhi remarked that “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them”. The reason our feelings get hurt is not because of what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us.
As human beings we have several concerns in life. Concerns can be grouped into two areas as described by Covey. The inner circle in the figure below refers to things that are under our control. The outer circle describes things that are not directly within our control (e.g. the Weather, global economy)
Proactive people are focused mainly on the circle of influence. This approach helps in slowly expanding our circle of influence. On the other hand reactive people are more focused on the circle of concern.
Some of Covey’s suggestions for expanding our circle of influence are:
It is not that we completely ignore the circle of concern. We still need to think about it, but not let it be the major part of focus. We always have the choice of choosing an action. However, the outcome of our action is always aligned with natural principles. For example, we may choose not to wear our seat belt while travelling. However, if the vehicle comes to a sudden and un-expected stop, we may get thrown, since that is a natural consequence the laws of physics.
According to Covey, the heart of the circle of influence is our ability to make and keep commitments and promises. The commitments we make to ourselves and others and our ability to keep them is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity.
Hope you enjoyed this post. In the next post, we will look at the 2nd habit which is “Begin with the End in mind”.
Reference: 25th Anniversary Edition “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.
This is the fourth post for #MyFriendAlexa by @Blogchatter. I am taking my blog to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa and #Blogchatter.