Habit 1: Be Proactive
According to Stephen Covey, the unique trait that we, people, are separated from animals is the ability to think about our very thought process or what we call, “self-awareness”. In the social mirror, it was stated that seeing our own selves is like facing the crazy mirror room in the carnival. Our reactions are based on the opinions, perceptions, and the paradigm of others about us. But self-awareness enables us to stand apart and examine even the way we “see” ourselves – our self-paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. It affects not only our attitudes and behavior, but also how we see other people. There are three social maps or three theories of determinism widely accepted, independently or in combination that Stephen Covey mentioned which explains the nature of man. First is the Genetic determinism which says that our nature is coded into our DNA, and that our personality traits are inherited from our grandparents. Next one is Psychic determinism that says that our upbringing determines our personal tendencies, and that emotional pain that we felt at a young age is remembered and affects the way we behave today. And lastly, Environmental determinism which states that factors in our present environment is responsible for our situation, such as relatives, our economic situation, or national policies. These three theories can determine the particular way of response to a particular stimulus. Viktor Frankl’s story was used to further discuss the relationship between stimulus and response. Frankl was a determinist raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology, which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. Frankl was also a Jewish Psychiatrist who survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. He experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat. But in the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human endowment of self-awareness to realize that in the middle of response-stimulus model, humans have the freedom to choose. By that he became inspiration, not only to his other captives but also to everyone who knew his story. In addition to self-awareness, we have imagination or the ability to create in our minds beyond present reality. We have conscience or a deep inner awareness of right and wrong, of the principles that govern our behavior, and a sense of degree to which our thoughts and actions are in harmony with them. And we have independent will or the ability to act based on our self-awareness, free of all other influences. Animals don’t have that independent will or any of these human endowments. But we do. They are described as computer programs; they can’t response to the program they are programmed for because they are not even aware with that program. But we can. We have the power and the freedom to write new programs for ourselves totally apart from our instincts and training. We just have to take the responsibility. That’s when the first habit was introduced. The first habit of a highly effective people is proactivity. Proactivity is more than merely taking initiative or some people described as being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive but taking the responsibility for our own lives. We always have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen, from the word itself “response-ability” or the ability to choose our response. In human nature it was stated that there are two kinds of people, the proactive people and the reactive people. By nature, we, people, are really proactive. But in making choices, we became reactive. Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. But proactive people are not. They don’t care if the weather is...
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