Being Proactive, The Social Mirror & Target of Influence

Sandra' reminds the group of the seven habits
Sandra’ reminds the group of the seven habits

After lunch the group came back together to start to look at Covey in more depth. They were reminded of the seven habits which were touched on in the first week of the training and Sandra explained that this afternoon the focus would be on habit one, being proactive.

Covey says that being proactive means more than taking the initiative, but rather people take responsibility for their own lives and that their behaviour is based on decisions not conditions or circumstances. The opposite of this is reactive where you can be easily influenced by external factors (eg: the weather is bad so their performance or mood is negatively affected).

He says that the language people use can be a good indicator of whether someone is proactive or reactive. Reactive people can sometimes use language as a way to release themselves from taking responsibility. For example a reactive person might say “there’s nothing I can do” whereas a proactive person might say “let’s look at our alternatives”.

The social mirror
The social mirror

The social mirror

After the introduction to the proactive habit the group then set out to create their ‘social mirror’. First they created a physical mirror using coloured paper and tin foil leaving space around the edges to write their own thoughts onto it.

At the top of the mirror they had to write traits they have, to the left examples of when they have taken the initiative, to the right things that make their blood boil and then do something about it and at the bottom things that they are happy to let go. In each of the sections the participants had to give three examples in order to complete their social mirror.

The participants were encouraged to put their social mirrors in a prominent location where they would be able to see them every day in order to observe any changes in their own thinking throughout the week and remind themselves of the things that affect them.

The target of influence
The target of influence

The target of influence

Next the group spent some time thinking about the people in their lives who influence them.

Each participant was given a target divided into four quadrants; family, friends, work and learning. At the centre of the target they put themselves and then they were asked to put three people from their lives into each of the quadrants. The closer the name to the centre of the target, the more influence that person has over them.

Once the names had been added they were asked to consider whether this person was a positive or negative influence and show this in one of two colours. It was acknowledged that a person can sometimes be a positive or a negative influence depending on the situation so some people could be marked with both colours.

Discussing influence
Discussing influence

After completing their target the participants got into pairs to discuss what could be done in order to either increase or decrease the influence of a person on their life. They were encouraged to use open questions in order to have in depth conversations. Finally, they were asked to consider which people were missing from their lives, who would provide additional positive influence to them.

The circle of engagement/concern

Finally Buzz and Sandra spoke to the group about the circle of engagement/concern which sits around the target of influence. Things which sit within the the circle of concern are outside of our influence – these could be external factors or things we can’t change. As you gain more methods to increase your influence you can expand a make the circle of concern smaller. When thinking about problems which you have no influence over, Covey suggests that you just smile and learn to live with them.

Also within the circle engagement/concern are consequences and mistakes. There are always moments in your life where mistakes will happen, and if you had known the consequences you wouldn’t have made them – but the knowledge that mistakes are in the circle of engagement is an important form of proactivity. We can’t change mistakes but we can learn from them.


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