In Dr. Stephen Covey’s classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the very first habit is: “Be proactive.”  Implicit in that command is the idea that we will be more successful if we are constantly proactive instead of reactive.

Too many people spend too much time constantly reacting to situations around them.  Covey’s son once expressed he was mad because of something his girlfriend did.  Covey wisely pointed out to his son that he had chosen to be mad.  His girlfriend had nothing to do with it.  Covey’s son had chosen to react by becoming mad.  He could have chosen something different.

People and situations can throw us all sorts of curve balls.  We cannot control that one bit.  What we can do is be proactive.  That means we take control over those things we can control and learn to smile at the things we cannot control.  In so doing we completely eliminate all the harmful, nonproductive dissipation of our energies.

A very interesting thing happens when we take control over those things we can control:  we find an inner peace and contentment.  Somehow, by taking charge where we can take charge, we begin to function from our deepest values and our highest ideals.  We begin to function in a more balanced manner.  Everyone benefits.  We become more successful.

The next time a situation or a person is tempting us to react, let’s stop and ask ourselves the question, what can I control?  Highly effective people make the decision to control those matters they can control.

If you are not doing it already, become proactive.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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