Stephen R. Covey said ‘Be Proactive’ in Habit #1 of his powerful best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
While most may see this book as a business book, for many others it’s clear this is a philosophy for life. The entire book is built on principals based on a person’s character, rather than personality. While working on his doctorate in the 70’s he reviewed over 200 years of literature on this idea of success. He came to the conclusion that, during the 20th century, success had been built on the Personality Ethic, yet in previous generations it was not. Prior to that it had been achieved through the Character Ethic. They focussed on deeper attributes such as courage, justice, and integrity.
To ‘Be Proactive’ and work on his first habit, he explains that proactive people use what they have and their initiative to solve problems, rather than waiting for others to solve it for them. He goes on to explain that they focus on what they can influence, what is in their direct control, and the thing we have the absolute most control over is our own behaviour.
Victor Frankl came to the same conclusion whilst in the Nazi death camps. He realised that he alone had the power to determine his response to the horror of the situation, and the only freedom he could attain at the time, was the freedom of his mind.
When we are thrust into a terrible situation, all we can really rely on is ourselves, the power of our mind.
Others will try and help, and it’s good to listen, to collect information and ideas. But then it’s up to us to sort through the information and make sense of it for ourselves.
Actually, when you think about it, that makes much more sense anyway.
Only you know what will work for you.
It always makes me laugh when people say I know him or her better than they know themselves! Really? That’s good…I beg to differ and seriously doubt it.
We know our thoughts, our dreams, our past and we have the unique ability to use our brains and work out what will make sense.
Having someone do something for you is nice, it all gets done. But going through the process of searching for the answer, applying it, and experiencing the results is much more empowering and satisfying. This is where real growth occurs.
The five stages of maturity as explained to me by Peter McCraw, elite tennis coach:
When working with young people, one can easily see which stage they are in and encourage them to the next by asking probing questions to get them to move forward to maturity.
I believe the same principles can apply to adults as we move through difficult situations.
1. Criticism – It happened to me!
2. Comment – It happened, and this might be why, or this is how I feel.
3. Compliment – I can see why this occurred or possibly the silver lining.
4. Contribute – This is what I can do about it.
5. Commitment – I am going to fix this.
It’s so easy when things happen to blame the world, or others or the person who hurt us, but if we look deep inside, we really can manage our response to the situation, and ultimately our own recovery.
Do we need help? YES!
Do we need encouragement? DEFINITELY.
Should we listen to others who have the knowledge to help? ABSOLUTELY.
Do we need to then do it ourselves? I’ll let you decide.