“It's not what happens to us,
but our response to what happens to us...”
Covey and I go way back, to about the time when the first edition of his book came out. I was newly enrolled in a community college and had no direction. I was changing my major every quarter, taking only those classes that held my highest interest, and not considering the journey that is college. I was a complete slacker. That is when The Seven Habits (Covey, 1989) changed me or stated better; I took the responsibility to change my habits.
Several years later, and I am not in a graduate level college course reading Covey’s work again. I have picked up The Seven Habits several times between my early college days and my current goals. I have also been lucky enough to work with a Principal who also enjoyed Covey’s (1989) practical approach to approaching life.
HABIT ONE: Being Proactive:
Here I am, today and thinking about proactivity. This is such a familiar world, and yet with so many people using it, I feel that it sometimes is misused, or not fully applied. Covey (1989) stated that be proactive “means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values” (Covey, 1989, p. 31). What a huge statement; it’s a real paradigm changer for most people. This isn’t some EST or Dianetics jargon, either. We are responsible for choosing our behavior. My goal is to be positive throughout my graduate school experience.
We are also responsible for choosing our behaviors, which some might call habits. As a graduate student, I have taken on the task of spending 10 to 15 hours a week being a graduate student. I work full-time, as does my wife, and we have an amazing four-year-old daughter who is always on the go. It was my choice to return to school and my responsibility to get the work done. “We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen” (Covey, 1989, p. 35). To this end, I simply get the work done. I do get up at 4 a.m. and spend two hours each day working on school work. My time is my choice. My choice to enter graduate school and it is my choice to react in a positive and excited manner to the requirements. Which brings to another point Covey wrote about; language.
TEACHING THE HABIT:
Currently, I am a middle school teacher. Every day I have a class period called Enrichment where students are supposed to get the extra support they need. More often than not teachers turn this class period into a silent reading time and study hall. For the next quarter, about eight weeks, I intend on applying some of Covey’s (1989) ideas to the middle school students. The first lesson will be about language. After all, “our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people (Covey, 1989, p. 37). There has been a lot of buzz around growth mindset and student achievement. For the next week, in my Enrichment class, I will start an informal conversation, give a few reflective writing assignments, and maybe even an art activity all focused on how the words we choose affect how we behave
Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster.