“In discovering the basic principle of the nature of man, Frankl described an accurate self-map from which he began to develop the first and most basic habit of a highly effective person in any environment, the habit of proactivity.
While the word proactivity is now fairly common in management literature, it is a word you won’t find in most dictionaries. 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 decision, not our condition. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.
Look at the word responsibility—‘responsible-ability’—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstance, condition, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us.
In making such a choice, we become reactive. Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.
Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the ‘social weather’. When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotion lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.
The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.
Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.”
Jobs I’ve held have been short-lived, in some cases, due to living by Covey’s following Proactive statements:
Our behavior is a function of our decision, not our condition. We can subordinate feelings to VALUES. We have the responsibility to make things happen.
Proactive people are value driven, and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive or not.
The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the Proactive person. Proactive people are driven by values, carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.
The trip has been well worth the experience, the pain, the joy of what has been, and what will be accomplished.
Next: Be Proactive
Principles Of Personal Vision
Taking the Initiative