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1. Being Proactive: The first habit of Highly Effective People

Co-authored by Prof. Biju G Pillai, and Prof. Omkar Bapat

Article series 01 of 07 on ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’

There is no ‘short cut’ to success. Discipline, dedication and determination are the three keys to it. The sweat of persistence and the effort of smart work is the ‘juice’ of success. As quoted by Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox, ‘Individuals need to be systematic in training themselves. They must figure out what they do not know and acquire the necessary learning for it by themselves as one cannot expect anyone else to do it for ourselves’.

The first habit of highly successful people lies in ‘Proactivity’. A proactive individual has a greater chance of achieving success than the one who waits for an external stimuli for movement and taking decisions. All wealthy, famous and noted individuals in the world from Steve Jobs to Pablo Escobar have made their pile of wealth and earned their name and fame by being proactive.

An individual faces multiple situations ranging from good and bad in his daily life. He has the choice of managing his response to these situations by being either reactive or proactive. Experience has shown that individuals who respond proactively to the diverse situations in life have a greater chance of success than the individuals who simply react to the situations.

Dr. Stephen. R. Covey explains that human beings have the capacity of ‘self-awareness’, recognizing themselves as human beings and not as animals and can use this ability as a mechanism to choose how to respond to any stimulus. Unlike animals we have an independent will as we choose to respond to situations like a programmer unlike animals who respond to a stimulus like a program.

Dr. Covey gave an example of a Jewish psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. An Austrian neurologist, he was marked for ‘special action’ on account of him being a Jew and was imprisoned in several death camps namely Auschwitz, Klaufering and Turkheim. His wife, mother and brother perished in these camps. However, Viktor Frankl did not die, as he chose to live having realized that he alone had the power to choose his response to the situation he was in. He visualized himself as a teacher, instructing his students into the fine details of psychiatry and made himself useful as a doctor and survived until the end of the Second World War.

Another example can be given about Major James Nesmeth, an American combat pilot who found himself in a similar situation like Viktor Frankl as an American POW in Vietnam during the war. He too choose to live and survived his ordeal in hell visualizing how he could perfect his skills in a game of Golf and managed to shoot a hole-in-one post his liberation from the camps.

Through these examples, it is clear that individuals who choose to view a given situation in the light of proactivity enable themselves to focus their efforts into managing and making the most from the situation by employing their knowledge and resources to influence and manifest change, thereby gaining a profit from the situation.

Steps for being proactive:

  1. Target YOU:Success or failure, it all lies within you. If you choose to be proactive, you will succeed. You can blame the entire heaven for your failures but in the end you know, that you are to blame for it.
  2. Become a ‘solver’ in life:One of the greatest skills of success, is the skill for solving problems. Proactive people choose to solve a problem by focusing on the things that are within one’s control rather than wasting time, whining on things that are not in one’s control.
  3. Become accountable for your work:Proactive people ‘own’ the things that they do by taking the responsibility for it. When you bear the onus of achieving the set goal, you will focus all your efforts into fulfilling your goal as you are accountable for your success in life.
  4. Work SMART:Proactive people are believers in solving their problems and achieving their goals in a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) way. Smart work increases the probability of success and paves the way for efficient utilization of knowledge and resources.
  5. Create a ‘blueprint’ of success:Proactive people create the ‘blueprint’ of their success by identifying the goals and the resources allotted for it and then form  a plan and measuring it by setting milestones based on a specific timeframe.
  6. Make your efforts consistent:One of the reasons human beings became the dominant species on Earth is because of their consistency and persistence when it came to hunting and chasing prey. Proactive people do not stop their efforts if they encounter obstacles or difficulties as they know no obstacle is too high or no difficulty is too deep for a man determined to achieve his goal.
  7. The right circle of influence:A quote in the Panchatantra states that ‘A vulture is more preferable as a king if he is advised by swans’. This means that a leader who surrounds himself with the right influence comprised of driven and effective people has a greater chance of success no matter what his position or station is in life.
  8. Adopt the mantle of honesty in life:Proactive people believe in being ‘honest’ with reference to situations in life so that they can identify a problem and take measures in solving it immediately instead of living in an escapist fantasy world of excuses.

Conclusion:

Ordinary people wait for the key for unlocking the gates of success. Proactive people make their own keys and open the gates of success.

References:

  1. Dr. Stephen. R. Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  2. Wikipidea. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  3. Greg McKeown, Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him
  4. Dan Schawbel, Stephen R. Covey Revisits The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  5. Kevin Ohannessian, Leadership Hall of Fame: Stephen R Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’
  6. Douglas Martin, Stephen R. Covey, Herald of Good Habits, Dies at 79
  7. Stephen. R. Covey, About Stephen R. Covey
  8. Brianna Whilting, Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Chapter 5  /  Lesson 9
  9. Tom Butler-Bowdon, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  10. Matthew Bowman, STEPHEN R. COVEY: BUSINESS SAVANT, SELF HELP GURU, MORMON THEOLOGIAN
  11. Dr. Stephen. R. Covey, Quotes

 

Introduction to ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ series of articles

By Prof. Biju G Pillai and Prof. Omkar Bapat

Introduction:

The term ‘habit’ has been defined as ‘a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiological exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance’ by the Merriam Webster dictionary. People are curious about wealthy individuals like John. D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates and seek to find a ‘pattern’ or a ‘trick’ wherein they too can become as wealthy as the luminaries of the business world. It is difficult to find the exact ‘secret’ of wealth and people end up getting frustrated with their decision of investing their time and money on this quest. However, there is an answer to this quest wherein people can develop the ‘habits’ of success and soon find themselves at the high tables of power and influence. The name of this book is Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ written by Dr. Stephen. R. Covey.

The book, ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is one of the best self-help and business help books in the world. Almost all leaders, prominent men, corporate stalwarts, CEO’s, Influential individuals in the world such as Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos, Bill Clinton and so on swear by this book as one of the reasons for their success in the world, cementing its reputation as a ‘best seller’ with more than 2.5 crore copies being sold since it was first published in the year 1989.

Dr. Stephen R Covey passed away on 16 July 2012, leaving behind him a legacy of success as experienced by those individuals who followed his teachings as they should. A holder of B.S. In Business Administration from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Dr. Covey earned his MBA degree from the Harvard school of Business in 1957 and in a span of a few years, earned his doctorate from the Brigham Young University and was appointed later as the Professor of Organizational Behavior and Business Management at the same university. He has been awarded with 12 honorary doctorates from various universities in the world and had made teaching a ‘principle centered living’ and ‘principle centered leadership’ in his career as a professor and later, as a management consultant. Dr. Covey’s classes were very popular and his lectures and discussions on self-help were extremely well sought, sometimes drawing an audience beyond 1000 students and participants.

The idea that started a revolution:

Dr. Covey took a decision in 1983, a decision that would change his life forever by betting everything he had on starting a new venture – ‘The Covey Leadership Centre’ a training and consulting company in the city of Provo in Utah. He merged this center with the Franklin Quest Company, a firm started by the noted time management expert, Hyrum Smith to become the Franklin Covey Company, which has a global presence today with operations in more than 50 nations with a revenue of 150 plus US dollars as per latest reports.

He was a strong believer in the value of time and saw to it that he used every minute of his day productively, whether it be exercising or reviewing documents. He was a strong believer in the creation of organizations, unique in many ways than their predecessors and was strong advocate of removal of ‘corruption’ and other evolution retarding lacunae in organizations in the world.

Dr. Covey wished to present an ‘alternative’ method in place of the existing methods and systems of work wherein management was done using strict adherence to time and rigid rules and regulations. Drawing from his experiences as a professor of management and as a business consultant, Dr. Covey wrote his ‘Seven Habits’ book proposing a different vision, which sought to focus on the ‘heart of the business’ instead of the cold efficiency of the figures and numbers of management, wherein importance was given for reformation of the culture and the personality of the organization by creating and managing changes for the transformation of the existing culture into a more powerful team character and culture in a more simple and manageable way.

He was a believer in the creation of organizations and institutions that inspire innovation and independent thought so that individuals can be inspired to create rather than following the path of those who have walked before as in his view, life was not about accumulation or acquisition but contribution as sharing of information and knowledge paved the way for higher quality inventions, innovations paving the road for holistic and complete growth and development.

Conclusion:

According to Dr. Covey people have the capacity, willingness and the ability to change. But the approach in which change has to be effected needs to change. In other words, if a man is treated as he is, there will not be any scope for change. For bringing in change, a man needs to be treated as he can be and as he should be treated so that he will become the change. Thus a man needs to change his ‘habits’ so that he can view life in a new light, enabling him to tread on the path of riches trod earlier by the rich and the powerful individuals of the world today.

References:

  1. Dr. Stephen. R. Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  2. Wikipidea. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  3. Greg McKeown, Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him
  4. Dan Schawbel, Stephen R. Covey Revisits The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  5. Kevin Ohannessian, Leadership Hall of Fame: Stephen R Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’
  6. Douglas Martin, Stephen R. Covey, Herald of Good Habits, Dies at 79
  7. Stephen. R. Covey, About Stephen R. Covey
  8. Brianna Whilting, Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Chapter 5  /  Lesson 9
  9. Tom Butler-Bowdon, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  10. Matthew Bowman, STEPHEN R. COVEY: BUSINESS SAVANT, SELF HELP GURU, MORMON THEOLOGIAN
  11. Dr. Stephen. R. Covey, Quotes,

The Founder

Dr. (Col.) A. Balasubramanian is a classic example of courage, commitment and intimate relationship with the corporate world. His love for Knowledge and perfection is unimaginable he has created more than 30000 successful MBA's all throughout this Lifetime.
He passion for writing has not stopped till now , he always write new pieces of short stories every month.