This book is a phenomenon, it has influenced my perception on numerous subjects, and has enlightened me on things that I had little to no understanding about. I will discuss these 7 habits as a synopsis, which covers a range of subjects that is essential for your individual effective functioning, whether in business, family, in your personal and professional relationships and otherwise, as widely discussed by Dr. Stephen in this book.

This review will come in 7 separate series, as there is so much to discuss on each of these habits. Today we kick off with the first habit.

Habit 1– Be Proactive 

Stephen, explained proactivity, as more than merely taking initiative. Proactivity entails that as an individual, you are responsible for your own life. Your behavior is the function of your decisions, and not your conditions. Responsibility, as in Response-ability, is the ability to choose your response. People that are Highly effective, recognize that responsibility, they do not blame their circumstances, conditions or the conditioning of their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choices that is based on values, rather than feelings.

Proactive people carry their own weather with them. They are value driven. Values, that are carefully thought about, selected and internalized. However, proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether if it be physical, social, or psychological. What makes the difference between them and reactive people, whose choices or responses, are feelings based is that their response to stimuli whether consciously or unconsciously, is value based.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can hurt you without your consent.” Gandhi, also reiterated, “they cannot take our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”

Our basic nature Stephen says, “is to act or be acted upon. So, we must ‘Take initiative’. This does not entail being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. Taking initiative means recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.

Stephen advices, it takes initiative to create the balance of effectiveness in your life. It will also require initiative to develop the these ‘Seven Habits of Highly effective people. As you study the other six habits, you will see that each depends on the development of your proactive muscles. Each of the habits, puts on you the responsibility to act.

The Language you use is also important in your becoming proactive. Our language, is a real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people. The language of people that are reactive, absolves them of responsibility. It comes from a basic paradigm of determinism, which is intently based on the spirit of transfer of responsibility onto others.

For example, 

Reactive Language:

  1. There’s nothing I can do
  2. That’s just the way I am
  3. He makes me so sad
  4. They won’t allow that 
  5. I have to do that 
  6. I can’t 
  7. I must
  8. If only.

The language of proactive people on the other hand, shows that they take responsibility. 

For example,

Proactive Language:

  1. Let’s look at our alternatives
  2. I can choose a different approach 
  3. I control my own feelings
  4. I can create an effective presentation
  5. I will choose an appropriate response 
  6. I choose 
  7. I prefer 
  8. I will 

More so, where you focus your time and energy can help you determine the degree of your proactivity. There exist a ‘Circle of concern’ and a ‘Circle of Influence.’ Basically, in the circle of concern are usually found some things that you have no real control over and others that we can do something about. In the Circle of influence, are contained things that you can do something about.

Proactive people focus their efforts in the circle of influence. They focus their time and energy on things that they can actually do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, however do the very opposite. 

The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out, to be different and by being different, to effect change in what’s out there. The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. This literally turns a failure into a success.

Within the circle of influence, is also our ability to make and keep commitments and promises. The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.

The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness.

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