The seven habits described in Stephen R. Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are life-altering improvements that require hard work and commitment to change oneself from within. The book has been considered a milestone in the genre of self-help books. First published in 1989, it has been assisting many people since. The first habit, ‘Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Vision,’ is the foundation, the beginning steps towards effectiveness. The whole point that Covey emphasizes on is that; the manner in which two types of people react, which is similar to the difference between day and night.
These people are proactive and reactive; the former focuses on values, the latter on feeling. Nevertheless, proactive people can be said as void of much feelings and emotions. This outlook can be seen as a potential disadvantage to those who seek to bring a change in themselves. Proactive people see love as a verb, not feeling and interactivity is their best tool; a little more than unnerving for many people. The reason for this is that we depend wholly on ourselves alone or on others alone; never believing in interaction.
Proactive people consider the ‘I can be’ of themselves whilst, reactive people concentrate on the ‘If I have’ in life. The author says that if we think any problem as being ‘out there’ then that though is the problem. Yet, the author thinks it is innocuous to guide people by motivating them but disregards the thinking process. Pro-activity then, is not much different from reactivity, the strong point of the animal world, if we do not think over what we are about to do (Orsini, 1996). It seems that Covey’s actual point here is self-control which comes foremost when we aim to be morally uncorrupt.
Covey has used his own terminology to describe various phrases in the book. For instance, the phrase: inside-out approach in various situations in life. It says that the change from within is more prominent and permanent than a mere change from outside (Weber, 2009). Character sprouts from our attitude and the way we behave; changing it will be the progress. His ‘principles of personal vision’ doesn’t really relate to each other. There is a different concept under every heading in this habit. Every human being has its own set of responsibilities; this idea arouses feelings of uncertainty.
It is so very easy to abandon our responsibilities in the name of others’ weaknesses. We cannot accept the fact that everything we do in our life is our decision; even when we are forced. Another aspect of this is that, we ourselves have to take initiatives and provide ourselves with opportunities. It isn’t right if someone keep saying, ‘If I could only be more slim and lean,’ and does nothing about it. If outside authorities mold our choices, we cannot be held answerable for our actions, this defines determinism. Covey defines this as a phenomenon that puts the blame on others.
The theory is that we will act in the way that we are trained to do so; by our genetics, psyche or our environment. All in all, the phenomenon doesn’t help in the 21st century because people don’t care anymore if they are socially acceptable. Since the start of this century, we have succeeded in steering clear out of the grasp of so-called conditioning and determinism. Nevertheless, many people do not recognize the amazing ability of our mind to choose the way to respond to a stimulus. Only our body can be reined in but not our mind.
We have the incredible power to imagine, of an independent will and self-awareness. To be self-aware is like to be able to see yourself from afar; to assess yourself and the way your mind works. This ability is unique in humans. On the other hand, the philosophy of free will is not accepted by several people. Outside influences only affects those people who let them affect them. When we acquire the skill to create circumstances, we also gain the power to empower them. Just as there was a woman who helped her boss overcome his weakness by compensating her own talents; this made her more trustworthy.
It isn’t sufficed to say that, we have no control over the events that takes place in our lives. If the character is built up to concentrate otherwise, then the theory isn’t acceptable to the psyche. The reality is that deep down inside we have a conscience which is always making us aware of what is right and wrong; and yet we can choose to ignore it or be aware of it and do something required to be done. Then it only becomes a question of utilizing it and a choice to be either kind or cruel. At times humans can burry it as deep inside as if it isn’t there at all.
The author’s discussion about the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence is not very convincing. It is hard for a person to follow the concept and its advantages. It acknowledges the fact, that people usually focus their energy and efforts worrying about futile concerns. There are some incidents which we can only be concerned about and others, which we can successfully mold into a result that we require. We can, directly or indirectly, control some situations in life. This is secondary to our Circle of Influence.
It says that we can choose our actions, but not the consequences that come with the actions that we chose. Hence, our actions cannot guarantee that we will not fall. Then the author describes this habit further by saying that, we should accept our mistakes and correct them. In addition, we should also be aware that we cannot undo them, so regret is a pointless exercise. Between both these points is the fact that we can still commit mistakes. The book talks about making and keeping commitments; which we can do so if we start small and grow bigger.
Essentially, we will be developing habits by keeping our commitments and achieving goals. A bit far fetched logic, but reasonably sought out. From our language to our response towards people, all things determine our character and the level of our proactive or reactive behavior. No one can hurt us without our permission; we can decide that we are not going to be affected by certain events in our life. The day we accept that we are the ones responsible, that’s the day we truly begin to see ourselves. This habit ultimately aims to build up our character.
Deciding to be somebody driven by values, not by having things is a lesson; in accepting the consequences of our actions and eventually keeping our commitments. References Covey, S. R. (2003). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster. Orsini, J. (1996). The Stephen Covey Phenomenon—An Evangelization Opportunity. Retrieved June 19, 2009 from http://www. ewtn. com/library/BUSINESS/COVEY. HTM Weber. edu. (2009). Establishing Your Sense of Direction. Retrieved June 19, 2009 from http://faculty. weber. edu/molpin/healthclasses/1110/coveystuff. htm