Friday, July 5, 2013

Be Proactive

I mentioned yesterday that I taught Franklin Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature program this week.

I love the concept of shifting your paradigm and behavior to get different results.  After all, Albert Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Covey's first habit is "Be Proactive" and the underlying assumption is that "I am free to choose and am responsible for my choices."  Obviously, this idea of choice has been on my mind a lot lately.

When we get stuck in a constant reactive pattern, we feel like a victim of our circumstances.  And let's face it, no one wants to follow a victim.

So how do we make the shift to proactive leader?  We choose to.  For those out there saying "you don't understand, in my job I have no authority to be proactive."  Actually, I do understand (as I sit here writing this on a furlough day).  And while I understand that there are circumstances where it seems impossible to be proactive, I still believe we are all making choices whether we acknowledge them or not.

The question then becomes, how will you choose to be in any situation?  If your job is so consistently reactive, how can you plan your actions ahead of time?  Think of a military troop practicing possible battle scenarios or a professional sports team practicing defensive plays.

If you've decided to choose to be proactive (and you are still with me) you may be wondering "Where do I start?".  Covey has a great model that separates the Circle of Concern from the Circle of Influence, but I will break it down even further - focus on that which you can control.

Write down a list of reactive situations you've encountered in the last month.  How could you have planned ahead and been ready for them?  What other scenarios could arise and what is your plan for them?  What can you put in place now to be prepared?  Look for alternatives and options rather than focusing on one plan.

For example, my days consistently seem to be hijacked by conversations and/or projects I hadn't anticipated, preventing me from finishing what was on my list for the day.  My CHOICE is to now plan half-days so that I have time to work on things that come up and my long-term projects.

Will you choose to be proactive today?  This week?  This month?  How?

For more information on Franklin Covey's 7 Habits for Highly Effective People check out the book: