Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Be Proactive, Part 1

For today’s objective we’re looking at the first habit from Steven Covey’s seminal book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The title of the first habit is: Be Proactive.

We’ve already, in a previous video, looked at “taking responsibility” being the flip-side of the coin, where the other face is ”taking control.”

We saw in that video how we naturally understand that where we have control, we are responsible for the outcomes that result. And we also saw how fewer people are aware of the reverse effect. The fact the relationship works the other way round. Where we first take responsibility, we then gain control. Covey understands taking responsibility is the foundation of proactivity. The reason for this is being proactive means choosing to lead oursevles in making something positive happen. If I help an old lady across the road, I’m taking responsibility for getting her safely to the other side. So it then becomes clear that in order to lead myself I need to take responsibility for myself also.

Here we can bring in Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 rules for Life. Because sheds light on why we are often less positive in engaging with leading ourselves effectively, than when we are asked to take responsibility for leading others.

Peterson advises “Treat Yourself Like you are Someone you are Responsible for Helping.” He says this because he notes we are uniquely psychologically disinclined to see how we treat ourselves. We often treat ourselves badly. To put his point in brutal summary, there can be pain and fear involved in summoning the bravery required to look honestly at ourselves and see all the things we need to address. But this needs to be done as a first step, if we are to lead ourselves most effectively.

Now you, probably, aren’t an old lady wanting to cross the road, and you’re no longer at school. So consider, unless you have a special partner in life, no one is going to lead you to a new place and encourage you to make things happen, apart from yourself. But even if you do have such a special partner in life, all the better but unless you are selfish, you will want to take responsibility and be proactive for them and equally help them too. Because sommeone like that, should be treasured.

Friends and family – if they are good friends and if you come from a family with a healthy mindset – will of course encourage you but they aren’t going to live your life for you. Better things in life – dogs and cats apart – don’t have legs and won’t come running to you of their own accord. So we all have to take action to get better things, or – as sure as eggs are eggs – those better things are not going to be coming our way.


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