In Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he challenges you at the end of the first chapter to a 30 proactivity test. He defines proactivity as “more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.”
He explains what it really means to “Take the Initiative” and that, regardless of the circumstances we’ve been dealt, we can choose to “Act or Be Acted Upon”. By the mere fact we are breathing air and existing, we will have situations arise, situations that are beyond our control. However, we do have control over how we choose to respond and how we respond makes all the difference.
Covey describes our power to choose vs our circumstances as, the Circle of Influence vs the Circle of Concern. Our circle of influence is where we can take control, whether its our attitude, our thoughts, our actions. “Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.”
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” ~Thoreau
“The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.” ~Samuel Johnson