Living your life well is living in excellence. It’s living your life with quality. However, it’s rare that individuals create an extraordinary life without first working on themselves. Stephen Covey, author of the popular book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that one’s character is basically a collection of habits. However, because most people have many unconscious patterns, those habits can get in the way of achieving success. In fact, habits can create being effective or ineffective, successful or unsuccessful, depending on the quality of those habits.
After having read through years of research on what makes a successful leader, beginning with material from 1776, Covey discovered that it is character that makes success. With this in mind, this article is the first of four covering the seven habits of the highly effective, highly successful human being. It is an attempt to summarize those habits that build character, those patterns of living that build integrity. A character that possesses courage, patience, honesty, fortitude, and reverence is a character that takes time to build. Building that character means developing new habits and letting go of old ones.
Habit Number One: Be Proactive
The first habit is to be proactive. It’s having the recognition that your life is within your control. Many small business owners already possess this mindset and know how to create business for themselves when profits are looking slim.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to be reactive to life, allowing our circumstances to rule over the decisions we make, and worse, to allow those conditions to have power of us. For instance, it’s easy to respond to life with, “I have to do it,” or “That’s just the way that I am.” With these statements, there is a sense of powerlessness and a feeling as though you can’t do anything about the way life is.
Yet, being proactive is exactly the opposite. Proactive people work on those conditions in their life that they can change. They focus on a circle of influence, those people and things that they can reach. Proactive people spend little energy on worrying about those things they have no control over.
Covey continues to say about this habit that the more proactive you become, the more you will make mistakes. In other words, the consequences of certain choices will become visible, allowing the opportunity to see what was effective and what wasn’t. However, he also says that the proactive way to respond to a mistake is to quickly acknowledge it, learn from it, and remember to make a different choice next time.
To develop your ability to be proactive, try working within your circle of influence, focusing your efforts on people and events that you can change. Make a commitment to yourself and to others and keep them. Be a light for others, not a critic. And the most important suggestion Covey offers for developing this habit is this:
If you stall to think some important problem in your life is ‘out there’ somewhere, stop yourself. That thought is the problem.
Habit Number Two: Begin with the End in Mind
Beginning with the end in mind produces the smaller tasks to move in the direction you want to go. It’s great to be able to check tasks off the list, but if they’re not bringing you closer to where you want to be, then, in a way, they are pointless. They are ineffective.
Having a vision, developing a plan, and writing out a mission statement – even a personal one – can provide you with a sense of where you are going compared with where you are now. Covey recommends writing out a mission statement for both your business, if you are an entrepreneur, as well as your personal life. He points out that the power of mission statements is that they convey a fundamental changelessness. For instance, an organizational mission statement articulates what your business is about and the values it will abide by. A personal mission communicates who you are and what you value. The key to bearing with change and the obstacles that are inherent in both personal and professional living is retaining a deep sense of who you are and your innermost values amidst that change.
The following three articles will continue to cover the 7 habits of highly effective people.
If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit. You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/Blog