Being effective is learning to do 'that which produces the desired result'. If you want to be extremely successful in business or very happy in life or achieve some large goal, then being effective is doing the things that will bring about the results you are after.
BlockquoteCovey does not claim to have invented the 7 habits, but rather to have discovered them and to have found a simple language for articulating them. In fact, he says that these basic principles of effectiveness may be found in all world religions; and it can be noted that many highly successful people seem to have naturally developed these habits.

Habit 1 - Be Proactive

The first of the 7 Habits is - Be Proactive. It is perhaps a great compliment to Stephen Covey that today, the substance of this first habit is deeply embedded into the management psyche. We are told, in business, that we should be proactive; and broadly what is meant by that is to focus our efforts and attention on the long-term and to think in terms of the long-term consequences of our actions.

Covey contrasts being proactive or having a proactive mentality with being reactive. Reactive people, he says, are those who are resigned to the truth that whatever they do in the present can have no effect on their circumstances. And interestingly, for reactive people, it really is a truth, for whatever we believe in our heart affects our thoughts, words and actions. If we really believe that we can do nothing about our unreasonable boss or the daily events in our lives, then we simply do not make the effort.

Proactive people, on the other hand, simply will not accept that there is nothing that can be done about the unreasonable boss or the events of daily life - they will point out that there are always choices. It is by the decisions we make, our responses to people, events and circumstances that proactive people can and do affect the future. We may have no control over what life throws at us but we always have a choice about how we are to respond.

Now this notion that having a particular attitude of mind (which is really where this habit begins) can make such a huge and positive difference to almost everything we experience in life is foreign to those who have already internalised the opposite habit as a part of their personalities. For some people, the glass is always half-empty and the feeling of melancholy is a pleasant reminder that something is indeed missing. For such people, this habit represents a bitter pill to swallow - but, says Covey, it is also completely liberating.

When we are finally prepared to accept full responsibility for the effects that are manifest in our lives; when we have the strength of character to admit it when we make mistakes (even big ones); when we are completely free to exercise the options available to us in every situation; then it can be said that we have finally internalised this habit. The other six of the habits require that we first work on our basic character by becoming proactive and thereby transforming ourselves into men and women of integrity.


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