BE PROACTIVE HABIT ONE

This 'SP Page' is based on Covey, pages 65 to 94. Spend 4 hours on this material to successfully meet the module outcomes and requirements.

Self-awareness enables us to stand apart and examine even the way we "see" ourselves–our self-paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. This affects not only our attitudes and behaviours, but how we see others. You need to be able to see yourself and others to relate well to them.

Remember, the first three habits fall under 'Private victories', which deal with self mastery and are the essence of character growth. Being proactive is thus part of the incremental, sequential approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

The Social Mirror

You might have been told a few times that the world is your mirror? Well, Stephen Covey explains that if that is the case than the image being reflected back to us is very distorted. Stephen says the mirrored image the world reflects back at us is distorted because it provides input to us based upon what other people are projecting on to us. This projection includes their own character flaws and weaknesses.

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So think about it: Are your perceptions/paradigms [map(s)] determined by social conditioning and conditions? These visions are often disjointed and out of proportion (Covey, 1989). To help us clearly see ourselves and others, we need to understand that there are three (3) social maps–theories of determinism–that determine the nature of man, namely: genetic determinism, psychic determinism and environmental determinism.

Genetic determinism

This theory explains how our grandparents played a significant role in shaping the vision we have of ourselves, as well as the vision others have of us.

If you are quick to anger, for instance, your grandparents had short tempers and it all comes down to your DNA (Covey, 1989). These traits are hereditary and you inherited them from your forefathers. Moreover, you may be Zulu, and that is just the perceived nature of Zulu people.

Do you have any traits you would state originated from your grandparents? If so, which ones?

Psychic determinism

So, do you remember being a young child? Do you have fond memories of your parents or home life when you were little? Well, this theory offers that your childhood experience and upbringing laid out your personal tendencies and character structure (Covey, 1989).

For example, you may feel guilty if you make a mistake because you 'remember' the emotional scripting when you were vulnerable, tender and dependent on your parents (or parental figures) deep down inside. You remember the emotional punishment, rejection, or comparison with somebody else when you did not perform as well as expected. So basically, your parents did it to you (Covey, 1989).

Can you recall any childhood experiences that shaped who you are and what you stand for?

Environmental determinism

Do you live in a noisy home filled with siblings running riot? Does your boss at your part-time job give you hell about the smallest issues or troubles in the workplace? Or does your significant other stress you out by seemingly "being on your case" 24/7?

The examples above illustrate how this theory describes how we are. Essentially, someone or something in your environment is responsible for your situation (Covey, 1989). If the government in your country does not meet or exceed your expectations or partakes in "shady" dealings you deem unacceptable, you will be less inclined to talk favourably about the party in question with others and will be less likely to take part in political activities. Their behaviour/actions have affected you and your outlook on politics.

This theory, like the others, is underpinned by the idea that we are conditioned to respond in a particular way to a certain stimulus. This is called the stimulus/response theory (Covey, 1989).

Every stimulus has a response, but we have the freedom to choose how we respond from a range of responses. You can discover your internal power through: a) Self-awareness; b) Imagination; c) Conscience; and d) Indep-endent will.

EXCERSISE

Where, when, how and by whom have you been socially influenced and determined? Was it positive or do you look at it in a negative light? How did you respond then? More importantly, how do you respond now?

We are a product of the world around us. If you truly believe that you are a unique and special 'snowflake', remember that who we are and how we behave is a construct of societal norms and values, carried and endowed upon us by the people and places in our lives.
Now that we know we are presented with stimuli to which we respond, we must be able to take into account that we are responsible for our own lives.
Look at the word responsibility–"response-ability"–the ability to choose your response.

The proactivity model

Look at the figure below and try to make sense of it and describe it in your own words:

Remember that we can all act or be acted upon at any given time.

If you want to be successful, you should never blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for your behaviour. Proactive people can recognise that their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choices (based on values), rather than a product of their conditions (based on feeling). We may be proactive by nature, yet we often allow people or things to control us. Then we become reactive. Can you differentiate between proactive and reactive? Where do you lie on that spectrum?

Our basic nature is to act and not be acted upon.

When we have a proactive focus, the positive, initiative-taking energy that surrounds us enlarges our Circle of Influence. Due to us knowing that we either act or are acted upon, we choose responses and check our language to expand this circle, and not focus our actions on reactive responses which reduce our influence and raise concern (Circle of Concern). We should adopt a proactive focus to lessen negative energy in our immediate or distant environments. The image below depicts the exact opposite: a reactive focus which diminishes our circle of influence.

There also exists a language of proactivity and a language of reactivity. Moreover, the proactive Circle of Influence is filled with the be's–I can be more patient, be wise, be loving–and the reactive Circle of Concern is filled with the have's–If I had my degree, if I had a smaller waist, if I had more obedient kids.

'Be' a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.
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