2018-05-07 Issue 46 Fundamental Behavior 19 Be Proactive
Try this exercise right before you walk into the door of your home tonight –
Sit quietly outside your house or apartment for one minute (60 seconds) and think about the members of your family and what they are doing inside. Think about what kind of environment you want experience when you get inside. Then, say this to yourself, “My family is the most enjoyable, the most pleasant, and the most important part of my life. I’m going to go into my home and feel and communicate my love for them.” Then go inside. If you happen to not be with your family tonight, then please give them a call after the exercise.
Many of you may know that I borrowed this exercise from Stephen Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. According to Mr. Covey, highly effective people (and families) are proactive. Being proactive is not a characteristic and it is not a personality trait. It is a habit, which means it is something we can all learn to do with practice.
Proactive people take responsibility for their actions and their lives. They do not blame their situation on their parents, their boss, their genes, or the weather. They know they are a product of their decisions, not their circumstances. With this frame of mind, they are then free to choose how they will operate in this world. Reactive people, on the other hand, are trapped by their circumstances and have given up their freedom to choose. They have handed that power over to the forces around them.
Mr. Covey talks about our “emotional bank account,” and I find this visualization very useful. We make deposits into this account when we are kind to others, forgive others, and ask forgiveness from others. We make withdrawals from this account when we ignore those close to us, or when we lash out in frustration or anger. Those with large balances in their emotional bank account are healthier and happier. Those with smaller balances have less of an emotional cushion to protect themselves and their loved ones in tough times. Proactive people choose to make deposits into that account and make it grow, and thereby build strong relationships. Reactive people, on the other hand, are so busy being beaten around by the forces around them they cannot seize the opportunities to make those deposits. Instead, they are forced to make unexpected withdrawals when they react to those outside forces. These withdrawals further weaken reactive people and negatively impact those around them.
I have read that, on average, you have to do something for 66 days to make it a habit. I am going to start this one tonight. I think this exercise may also work in the workplace. Therefore, before I come in to work tomorrow morning (and for the next 66 mornings) I am going to sit in my car for one minute and think about those I will see during the day. I am then going to say to myself, “My work is an important part of my life. I spend a lot of time there. I want that time to be fulfilling, interesting, and enjoyable. I know my co-workers want the same thing, so I will choose to do things today that will help make my workplace more fulfilling, interesting, and enjoyable for everyone.” Let me know how I do, please.
YKK Corporation of America