I’ve been listening to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the second time around, because the first time I barely paid any attention. Covey mentioned how he wanted his book to be something people returned to time and again, so I must be doing something right. This time around, I’m actually taking my time to let each chapter and habit sink in. I’m completing the activities he suggests, in conjunction with my daily journaling. (By the way, if you’re a writer or always wanted to become one, daily writing of any kind or amount is particularly helpful.)
The reason I’m adding this blog to my daily writing is to meet the first principle he sets forth: Be proactive. There’s a lot of great explanation on proactivity I won’t go into here, but I will highlight those things which spoke to me most, particularly one’s circle of influence and the power of perception.
Power of Perception
For me, proactivity first involved expanding my awareness. I chose to blame other people for the things I allowed to happen to me. I let other people and circumstances dictate how I lived my life. For example,
- Tolerating verbal abuse and disrespect from my superior;
- Ignoring advice that I was taking on too much responsibility;
- Spending time doing everything but needed to be done to take control (i.e., get caught up on schoolwork, job work, prayer).
So much of proactivity involves what you think you have control over, or the impact you think you have on people and circumstances in your life. I created a toxic little bubble for myself that resulted in quite a few things I “could” have seen coming. Of course, I truly couldn’t have seen anything beyond the walls of hopelessness, frustration, and anxiety I’d erected around myself. Only when I started to break down these walls could I see what I had control over.
Circle of Influence
Covey also mentions the realm of things we do have control over. I specifically focused on perception because of my academic background in psychology, where perceived locus of control is a huge deal in growth and success. He referenced Victor Frankl’s different approaches to determining and expanding one’s locus of control, the biggest factor being your attitudinal disposition.
I finally realized that the only way I would determine the edges of my influential kingdom would be to find where the light touches. In other words, I need to find my horizon and face the sun each new day. If I change my attitude, I can change my self, and eventually change the world.
I’ve got a couple of successful, driven, and ambitious friends who only continue to succeed in their growth because of the way they look at the world. My hope is that I will be the conductor on the train of my life, not just a mere passenger. Life’s a wild ride and I’m headed west, towards my ever-broadening horizon. These friends also gave me some incidental inspiration and I thought I’d leave it here for you.
One friend’s personal motto is, “Nothing happens to me, but everything happens for me.” To that I say, Hamlet almost had it right when he said, “To be or not to be? That is the question.” Thanks to my friend and good old Shakespearean existential humor, I say “To me or for me? That is the question.”
I also couldn’t leave out “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.