Honestly, this was a long and thought-provoking chapter. I’m not sure whether I am wanting to teach these points or merely remember the ones I choose to keep, kind of like the bread and butter. I am leaning more towards keeping the jewels, however, if you have read the book and would like to add some points, be sure to comment. Also, if you would like a more broader scope and more detailed points, let me know. His style of writing is very twisty-turvey, he will make a point and twist it and then turn it over and makes you react to it, this leading to a very sloooow read and often re-reading. I’d recommend getting the book if any of what I say is striking a chord because I’m sure you’ll pluck from it your own tunes and other areas of his work may sing to you.
Covey’s first habit is to be proactive. He offers a definition, “It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions not our conditions. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.” We each are confronted with scenarios and situations in our daily lives, the highly proactive people do not blame circumstance, or even their previous experiences (conditioning) they approach each problem with conscious effort a choice based on their own values, with the responsibility to own up to it later on.
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”
Eleanor Roosevelt observes, “No one can hurt you without your consent.”
Those two lines are worthwhile nuggets of wisdom. Think about it, you have the option to choose how you wish to see/approach each situation! He gives an example of a jew in Nazi death camps who chose to see outside of his limitations- he chose to see himself in the future, a teacher telling the students about what travesties occurred. He took himself way into the future, did not choose or swallow that bitter pill and used his imagination to gain mental freedom while in the camp.
Love, according to proactive people is a verb. Don’t buy in to Hollywood Hoohaw on the irresponsibility of falling in love or having lost that feeling. “Love is something you do; the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return.” So, if you’re in a relationship where you chose to be, choose to love. Support each other mentally, emotionally, be that safe haven you wish to find. Sacrifice and serve each other, you deserve to love and stay in love, and often it takes a lot of work.
Each of us have a wide range of concerns that affect us. It can be all sorts of things including: the government, world peace, global warming, recycling, our children, national debt, problems at work, or relationships. These all fall into a category of Circle of Concern. Within that large circle is a smaller circle, a circle of issues or concerns that we have a direct link to and can affect change in, called the Circle of Influence. Proactive people focus their efforts and energy in the Circle of Influence. Reactive people focus their energy on the Circle of Concern. They are the entitled ones, focusing on the weakness of others, blaming the economy, the environment and other circumstances to which they have no immediate control.
This Circle of Concern is filled with the have’s: If only I had a boss that wasn’t such a dictator, If only I had more obedient kids, if only I had my degree….
The Circle of Influence is filled with be’s: I can be more patient, more loving, more patient. It’s focused within, to change the problem from the inside out. “…we are responsible– “response-able” to control our lives and to powerfully influence our circumstances by working on be, on what we are.”
Working on consequences and evaluating our mistakes. Since our behavior is controlled by our principals it is crucial for us to stop and recognize when a mistake has been made and deal with it accordingly. To cover up our mistakes and not learn from it is amplifying that mistake on another level.
30 Day Challange.
The author proposes a 30 day challenge in which we practice being proactive. Work only in your circle of influence, make small commitments to areas that truly matter to you and you have the capacity to influence, and KEEP THEM. Make small promises or set goals and takes small but measurable, steps towards the right direction. Be a model not a critic. Try to apply this challenge to all areas of your life: your work, your marriage, with your kids. Do not argue with others’ weakness, face your mistakes- admit, correct, and learn from it- and move on. Look at others’ weaknesses with compassion not accusation. It’s not what they’re doing (or not doing) that’s the real issue, it’s how you choose to look at it or take from it.