This part of the seven habits hit on several points. One being taking the initiative. Taking the initiative makes a very big difference in lives of people that understand how to do it.
One of my favorite speakers says “no matter how bad it is, or how bad it gets, I’m going to make it. This is in direct relation to taking the initiative. In order to fully understand this Dr. Covey gives a simple illustration.
A group of leaders of an industry that had been hit hard by a bad economy decided to get together to discuss business. When they met on the first day they discussed the current state of the industry. It was extremely bad. Sales were down in a big way. On the second day they viewed the outlook of the industry. What they decided was that it wasn’t going to get better anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it was going to get worse before it got any better. The third day of the meeting they discussed what initiative they would take to improve their current situations. They figured out ways to reduce cost, cut unneeded expenses, and operate more efficiently. They figured out what the plan is right now. By the end of the third day people were very positive because it was bad, and it was going to get worse, but outlook was business is better than ever. Zig Zigler would say that you can’t do anything you want by being positive, but you will do it better every time than being negative. What he meant by that is just because you are positive and truly believe that are a professional athlete doesn’t mean that you could go play basketball with the Chicago Bulls. It doesn’t matter how positive you were or how much you believed. However by having a positive attitude and some belief will make you better than you would be by being negative. The mere fact that these people left with a positive outlook will make them perform on a higher level.
People who do not use what Stephen Covey calls R & I and do not act will eventually be acted upon. R & I stands for resource and initiative. Les Brown says if you don’t act life will act on you and make you act. Something that Dr. Covey says to his kids when they want something done, he tells them to use their R & I. It gets the kids thinking in the right direction that they can figure it out and get it accomplished on their own.
Another large part of being proactive is the language that we use. You can tell if someone is reactive or proactive by the speech they use. People who are reactive and feel that their life is determined are saying thing like. He makes, I can’t, I have to, there is nothing I can do, that’s just the way it is.
Think of this simple sentence, He makes me so mad. Is this reactive. Does it put the blame on someone else? How about I can’t afford that? Can you really not afford it or you choose not to put it in your budget? See how these things can put the blame on something other than ourselves? At the beginning of this chapter a quote said. “I am where I am today, because of the choices that I made yesterday.” Until you can make that statement truly and honestly, that person can not say “I choose otherwise”.
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