Have you ever had a book constantly on the back of your mind? Everyone keeps talking about it, you’ve heard of how amazing it is, yet you haven’t come around to reading it yourself because you’re too busy reading the other 2389230 books you pick up on a casual Chapters run? Well I decided to end that situation, and I finally bought The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
As 2016 comes to an end, I thought this book would be a perfect way to welcome in another Year of opportunity – through new perspectives of self-development and success.
Note to self: THANK YOU, because this book was perfect – and one I could not put down.
The concepts discussed in this book are inspiring by their practicality; the ability for anyone of us to be able to apply the lessons to get more out of our own lives.
While I wont go through The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in its entirety, I will touch base on the most important preliminary concepts that I found most helpful in reaching my own self-actualization.
- The realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.
- The process of establishing oneself as a whole person, able to develop one’s abilities and to understand oneself.
- The achievement of one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world.
Through self-actualization, we are able to view ourselves – our entire being, how we operate – from a very rational state of mind. We are able to see our full human potential and understand how we fit into where we are. To become self-actualized, it is important that we are uninhibited by emotions, denial, or delusion; this brings about the concept of self-awareness as another very important key. Through self-awareness, we can truly stand a part of ourselves and rationally examine a “birds eye view” of how we respond to our environments, our truths as individuals, available lessons that are knocking at our door, and responsibility needed to be taken in order to evolve and succeed.
The challenge lies in staying conscious of these truths, lessons, and responsibilities, when it is much easier to see the ways at which we are held at a disadvantage.
And boy, are they everywhere:
If my boss wasn’t so miserable, I would be happier at work.
If I was self-employed, then I would have freedom.
If I had more time, then I could train more.
If I win first place, then I’ll be happy.
In the words of Stephen Covey, “Society loves playing victim, and blaming our circumstances has become the norm. Though this may provide temporary relief from the discomfort of our situations, blame also chains us to these very issues”.
By understanding two very important concepts, PROACTIVITY & REACTIVITY, we will have our very own tool to decipher and monitor where we stand in our own success. There is no reason any of us can’t achieve what we set out for, but the challenge lies in our reactions to the cards we are dealt. Every one of us has our disadvantages, but the truly successful are ones who remove these “blocks” , or figure out a way around.
Successful people are proactive, they never take no for an answer.
- (Of a person, policy, or action) Creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.
- Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory.
As Covey explains, highly proactive people recognize behaviour as a function of our decisions, not conditions. We have the ability – “response-ability” – to CHOOSE our response. Proactive behaviour is then a product of ones own conscious choice (based on values), rather than a product of one’s environment or conditions (based on feelings).
Proactive people break their own chains; there is nothing that can hold them down.
This does not give proactive people immunity from their conditions, environments, or their feelings; they are just as effected as anyone else would be. However, what differs is the conscious choice to step out of the role of the “victim”. Proactive people do not let any of these set backs, or disadvantages interfere with their progress; they will not let their feelings dictate their action, or allow their conditions to limit their growth.
Proactivity is a state of mind.
Analyze your world, if life seems to be defined by all the ways you are held at a disadvantage, instead of all the ways you can make it work, you are letting the state of reactivity rule your mind.
- showing a response to a stimulus.
- acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.
Reactive people are driven by their feelings. They take irrational action based on their emotional states, and are fixed on disadvantages that lay before them. Their circumstances, environment, and conditions rule their outcomes. They are the masters of the blaming game, and can easily come up with the exact reasons to justify whythey are where they are.
In a bad mood? Well, there is a reason (of course). It’s a he said, she said web of events that contributed to the negative state. Reactivity accepts the idea of an “inability” to respond; these people are highly influenced by their environments, right down to the weather outside.
Covey said something that really stuck with me, “proactive people make their own weather”. They create their circumstances and create their own opportunities by recognizing their power to choose and respond.
Reactivity is really a backwards way of living if you look at it in its entirety. Reactive people live their lives fixed on external factors – all in which, they have no control. It is a state of mind which gives up our personal power and allows life and opportunity to continuously pass us by.
RECOGNIZING THESE STATES
“It’s not fair..”
“It’s just how I am”
We don’t need to search far for the self-recognition of our proactive or reactive states, the answer lies in the language we use.
Reactive language is fatal. Covey emphasizes the problem as the words we choose become a self-fulfilling prophecy, while reinforcing ideas which further encourage feelings of victimization and loss of control. Reactive people continue to look for external blame to relieve them of the pain of having to face their inner-most truths.
For a day, listen to the language you use.
Be mindful of the way you respond, and what that revealsabout your current state. Recognize if there is a loss of control in your language, or how many times you catch yourself blaming external factors in your life.
Pay attention to your response.
“It’s not WHAT happens to us, but our RESPONSE to what happens to us” (Covey, 2004). This is one of the most important factors to understand when shifting to a more proactive state of mind.
Through self awareness, we can exercise our POWER to CHANGE our stimulus response. We can become conscious of HOW we APPROACH situations and challenges in our lives. Through enough self-awareness, we begin to reach a self-actualized state; it is only there where we can maximize our human potential for growth.
Perspectives will also be of key importance throughout the process of facing our challenges. Will we be defeated by adversity? Or will we understand and accept it as an opportunity of growth? If you chose the latter, you are ready to shift into proactivity – giving all your “disadvantages” a wink of an eye as you live out the ways you will not be held down.
“In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well” (Covey, 2004).
You may have heard these concepts before, at one time or another, but sometimes it takes a special way of reading, understanding, and connecting to the information to really resonate and internalize the available lessons. I invite you to sit with these ideas, read them over if you have to, and draw your own connections of how these concepts may fit into your life. This act of self-reflectionwill only bring you closer to the little victories of success within yourself, leading to bigger victories as you walk your path of greatness.
Start where you are, do what you can; there is always something that can be done.
I’ve taken my own proactivity to change my day to day language, here are some of the common words I tend to use that I will change for this present moment, the new year, and beyond:
Problem = Challenge
Worry = Search for a Solution
Failure = Learning experience
Seize the initiative to start small, bring forth your best effort every day, and notice how you begin to build your momentum.
What ways can you be Proactive for 2017?
No holding back, lets make this our best year yet.