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October 23, 2018

284 Be Proactive – Habit 1 from Mindset for Entrepreneurs Series

Habit 1: Be Proactive


Determinism is the belief that “We are largely determined by conditioning and conditions.” It is the opposite of being proactive.

Covey identifies 3 Types of Determinism: Genetic, Psychic  & Environmental

Genetic determinism

Genetic Determinism

“Your Grandparents did it to you.”




DeterminismReactive MindsetPsychic Determinism

“Your Parents did it to you.”

Environmental Determinism

“Your boss, or your spouse, or your finances, or politicians did it to you.”

Pavlovian reactionStimulus-Response Theory

Theory: “We are conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs to respond to stimulus.”

This is again a deterministic way of looking at the world.

Is Determinism accurate?

“How accurately do these deterministic maps describe the territory?”


Viktor Frankl

Victor Frankl

Start – determinist/ Freud (childhood – > Personality)

Concentration Camp – suffering…

“Self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement.”

He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him.

“Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.”

“Freedom” vs. Liberty

“Through a series of disciplines…he had more freedom than his Nazi captors.”

“They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options.”

“Within the freedom to choose:

Self-awareness Imagination Conscience Independent will”

“Proactivity” Defined

“It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. ”

“Response-ability =
the ability to choose your response.

“Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.”

“Reactive people are driven by their feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment.”

Being a Proactive Person

“Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized.”

“Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social or psychological.

“But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.”

Frankl: 3 Central Values

  1. 1. Experiential (what happens to us)
  2. 2. Creative (what we make)
  3. 3.  Attitudinal (our response to

Taking the Initiative

“Our basic nature is to act, and not be acted upon.”

“The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who don’t is…night and day. …I’m talking about a 5000-plus percent difference.”

Business and Initiative

“Businesses…can be proactive. …The organization does not have to be at the mercy of the environment; it can take the initiative to accomplish…shared values…”

Proactive Language



“There’s nothing I can do”

Let’s look at our alternatives

I can’t

I choose

I must

I prefer

If only

I will

Circles of Concern/Influence

Proactive Focus:

“They work on things they can do something about…”

“…causing their Circle of Influence to increase.”

Reactive Focus:

“They focus… on circumstances over which they have no control…causing their Circle of Influence to shrink.”

Expanding the Circle of Influence Proactive is not:

“Pushy, aggressive, insensitive.”

Proactive is:

“Smart, value driven…”
“Proactive people…read reality, and they know what’s needed.”

Angry mindsetTo Have vs. To Be

“The Circle of Concern is full of have’s”

“I’ll be happy when I have my house paid off”

“If only…

…I had a better boss.”
…I had a more patient husband/wife.”

…I had a degree.”
…I had more time to myself.”



Proactive Mindset“The Circle of Influence is full of be’s”

I can…

Be more patient
Be wiser
Be kinder
Be more courageous

Character focus




Proactivity & “Inside Out”

Proactive Approach:

Change from Inside-Out: to be different, and by being different, to effect positive change in what’s out there. “

If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing which I have control over – myself.”


“The Other End of the Stick”:

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the natural consequences of our actions. Consequences are governed by a natural law.”

“When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

Mistakes – Definition

“…there have been times…we picked …the wrong stick. Our choices have brought consequences.

“If we had the choice to make over again, we would make it differently. We call these choices mistakes, and they are the second thing that merits our deep thought.”

Handling Mistakes

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.”

“But to not acknowledge a mistake, not to correct it and learn from it, is a mistake of a different order… This second mistake, the cover-up…causes far deeper injury…”

“It is not what others do or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to these things.”


(Circle of Influence)

Self-awareness leads to…

  • Awareness of Weakness
  • Need for improvement,
  • Under-used talents

Imagination & Independent Will lead to…

  • Making promises
  • Setting Goals
  • Staying true to them

Making Promises

Promises & Goals

(Circle of Influence)

Two ways to put ourselves in control of our own lives immediately:

  • Make a Promise – and keep it
  • Set a Goal – and work to achieve it

“By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods.”

Knowledge, Skill & Desire

[The basis of Habits]

These are within our control:

“We can work on any one to improve the balance of the three.”

Knowledge Skill Desire

Rewards…and Warnings

“People who exercise their embryonic freedom … will…expand that freedom.

“People who do not will find…they are acting out the scripts written by parents, associates, and society.”

“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


Forget “30 Day Guarantee”

Proactivity: The 30 day Challenge





Where it applies:

  • How we make and keep commitments
  • How we respond to an irate customer
  • How we view our problems
  • Where we focus our energies

The language we use
Try it in your marriage, your family, your job, your business

The Challenge Itself:

For 30 days:

  • Work Only in your Circle of Influence
  • Make small commitments & keep them
  • Be a model, not a judge
  • When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it – immediately
  • Don’t blame or accuse
  • Work on things you have control over

“If you think the problem is ‘out there’, stop yourself. That thought is the problem.”

Proactivity: Specific exercises (by Covey)

Ex. 1: Language

  • For a full day, listen to your language and that of the people around you.
  • Notice how often you hear reactive phrases like “If only…”, “I can’t”, or “I have to”.

Ex. 2: Planning your Response

  • Identify a situation where, based on past experience, you would have reacted badly.
  • Review the situation.
  • How could you respond proactively?
  • Create a video in your mind of yourself acting better
  • Commit to changing your response

Ex. 3: Specific Problem

  • Select a problem from your work (or personal) life that is frustrating to you
  • Determine whether it is a direct, indirect or no control problem
  • Identify the first step you can take to solve it Take that step

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Watch Mindset for Entrepreneurs Series: Habit 1 – Be Proactive

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