FranklinCovey Blog | June, 2012
FranklinCovey has recently partnered with OpenSesame to offer some of our online learning courses to their catalog. In addition the company is reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Below is a post from Sunny Zhang, an intern at OpenSesame about her experience reading the book.
There are a lot of habits that people understand are good but rarely do. “Put first things first!” “Sharpen the saw!” “Be proactive!” We hear this advice, and we want to make a change, but we find it hard to start. For example, what exactly are “first things” to put first? Which “saw” should I sharpen to most effectively do my job?
These are the questions I ask myself as I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Those questions are really hard to answer, but as I evaluate the successful people I know, what differentiates them is their ability to be proactive – Habit 1 in Stephen R. Covey’s essential series of recommendations for changing your life. Proactivity is the key to the door of success.
In mainland China where I was born, there are significantly fewer opportunities to create change. People are pushed by the rapidly developing society while at the same time being restricted by culture. You find hard-working people everywhere, but very few of them are following paths that they’ve chosen for themselves. In such a society, being proactive is limited to the circumstances people can control within a dictated path. In that case, “be proactive” sounds more like “study longer hours to get a better grade” or “do everything you can to make your boss like you”. Even when people are hardworking and diligent, only very few people achieve the quality of life they imagine. One can’t help but wonder:
In cases where the odds appear to be against you, is it meaningful to continue to be proactive?
The answer is yes. Especially in restricted societies, a deep commitment to proactivity is the only way to achieve meaningful change.
It’s not easy to keep focusing inside yourself when the outside circumstances are limiting and difficult. But deciding to focus on what you can do to change your life is incredibly empowering. makes a difference. No matter what the situation is, holding a positive attitude, learning something new and acting on these insights will lead you to a whole new level.
The people who effectively lead change within themselves are equipped to survive and thrive in hard situations. Instead of complaining and blaming others, proactive people hold fast to their values and do the right thing in a smart way. Even in China, although there is relatively limited space for individuals to pursue what they want, a small portion of people succeed as a result of being “super proactive”.
As I read The 7 Habits, I challenge myself to look deeply at what I can improve, and I set new goals for myself: To resist the cultural pressure to follow a predetermined path and instead make a different choice – to set a path for myself. To remember that there are always factors I can control, even if it’s only my reaction to the pressures I face.
Whatever the environment is, a proactive person is more likely to succeed than a reactive person. This habit number one – ‘be proactive’ – has the potential to not only change individuals, but to change societies. I hope I will lead the way in my society with my new motto: Things will get better when more people stop complaining and start solving the problems.
FranklinCovey recently added their courses to OpenSesame, global elearning marketplace, where Sunny Zhang is a marketing intern. She is an experienced event planner and nonprofit organization manager.
FranklinCovey has recently partnered with OpenSesame to offer some of our online learning courses to their catalog. In addition the company is reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Below is a post from Micaela Deitch, an intern at OpenSesame about her experience reading the book.
As an intern at OpenSesame, my peers and I recently started reading the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a group. Book in hand, I started the path to becoming a compassionate, efficient and – most of all – effective career woman.
The beginning of my journey was not as smooth as I’d hoped. Dr. Stephen R. Covey explains that many individuals live in a state of dependence, where they feel and take no responsibility for the events of their lives. As a young professional, this resonated with me. Since I was born I’ve been dependent on my family financially and emotionally. Every personal success I achieved felt like it partly came from my family supporting me: paying for my school, consoling me when I didn’t get the part, or praising me when I got a good grade.
Being in a state of dependence had its perks, but I know it is not a sustainable option. All of my role models, including my parents, had a time in their life when they made the change from dependence to independence. It may not have been seamless or pretty, but at some point they moved out of their parents’ house, got a job, and started taking care of themselves. When Covey explained that the state beyond dependence is independence, I had an “aha” moment.
From Independence to Interdependence
However, in the next passage of the book, Covey explains that after achieving independence, enlightened individuals move into a state of interdependence. This gave me pause. Moving from dependence to independence to interdependence seems regressive. Isn’t the independent individual, who takes no help from anyone, the epitome of success?
I found my misunderstanding lay in the distinction between dependence and interdependence. While dependence refers to relying on others to take care of us, interdependence refers to the cooperation for a greater goal. And because there are limits on how productive we can be as individuals, but virtually no limit on how productive we can be when we strategically collaborate with others, being “highly effective” requires interdependence.
It took me awhile to understand this difference, but I soon realized many of my biggest successes in life came from collaborative efforts. Take, for example, my last year of rowing as a senior in high school. I had spent all winter training, hoping to be the fastest and fittest. I spent a lot of time that season thinking about how I could be faster as a rower, but all that individual energy wasn’t helping my boat win races. A crew, like any group endeavor, relies on teammates working together, not for personal success. When I stopped focusing on how I could be stronger or faster, and started thinking about how I could row better to complement my teammates, we started going faster. Eventually, we were rowing fast enough to win 2nd in the region.
The Next Step for Young Leaders
As college students make the transition from high school to college to adult life, there’s inevitable urge to rebel, to make a point of becoming independent and throwing off the limitations of childhood. But it is important to remember that paying our own rent, buying our own food, and working diligently at a chosen career path is not the apex of being effective. In order to become truly effective we must use our independence and the stability it grants us as a platform on upon which to build interdependent, highly effective relationships. Only when we work in collaboration with others can we achieve our full potential.
FranklinCovey recently added some InSights On Demand online learning courses to OpenSesame, global elearning marketplace, where guest blogger Micaela Deitch works as a Business Development intern. She is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University and interested in learning about online education.