“Before we totally shift our life focus to our Circle of Influence, we need to consider two things in our Circle of Concern that merit deep thought—consequences and mistakes.
While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern. We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, but we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us.
Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we choose the attendant consequence. ‘When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other’.
Undoubtedly, there have been times in each of our lives when we have picked up what we later felt was the wrong stick. Our choices have brought consequences we would rather have lived without. If we had the choice to make over again, we would make it differently. We call these choices mistakes, and they are the second thing that merits our deeper thought.
For those filled with regret, perhaps the most needful exercise of proactivity is to realize that past mistakes are also out there in the Circle of Concern. We can’t recall them, we can’t undo them, we can’t control the consequences that came as a result.
The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. This literally turns a failure into a success.
But not to acknowledge a mistake, not to correct it and learn from it, is a mistake of a different order. It usually puts a person on a self–deceiving, self-justifying path, often involving rationalization (rational lies) to self and to others. This second mistake, this cover-up, empowers the first, giving it disproportionate importance, and causes far deeper injury to self.
Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”
Some years ago a CEO asked me to check (i.e., spy) on his staff, and to report any activity/behavior that might affect him or the company. My response, based on my principles and values, was to tell him that was his job, not mine. A few years later I covered for the same CEO on an issue, and later realized that I had violated those same principles and values. I vowed never to do that again.
Recently I met with a fellow over breakfast, and the discussion became heated when I responded to his questioning my motives in response to speaking out on a significant issue. His response was to belittle me, and make accusations. He didn’t believe me, or even wanted to. Covey’s point about not acknowledging mistakes has put this person on a self-deceiving, self-justifying path involving rationalizing to self and to others. The injury to this person is apparent.
Next: Habit 1 Be Proactive
Principles Of Personal Vision
Making And Keeping Commitments