Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting in the Habit... #1

Mr. Pate and I are reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen Covey right now. It is sooo good guys! Anyhow, it is quite long and is full of great things so I have decided to start summarizing the things that stand out to me from each Habit to help me retain it all.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

The whole premise of this habit comes from a few sentences he read in some other book:
Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.
In our response lies out growth and our happiness.

Basically, we all have a choice in how we respond to everything and everyone in life. We can either REact to that person or thing (stimulus) or we can act, meaning we can choose how we will respond without being controlled by the circumstances. I think this is probably something most people in life struggle with, and I know I do big time! He uses the mental picture here of having a "pause button- something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it, and to choose our own response."

Covey says the ability to do this comes from developing the 4 unique human gifts that animals do not have: Self-awareness, conscience, imagination, independent will.
  • Self-awareness: the ability to step back from our life and observe it. We can observe our thoughts and we can choose to make changes also.
  • Conscience: Our moral or ethical sense or "inner voice". We can not only observe our life, we can evaluate it too.
  • Imagination: Our ability to envision something entirely different from our past experience. We can see a "better way" that life could be than what we are observing it as now.
  • Independent will: This is our power to take action.
These are what live in the space between what happens to us and how we respond. We have to learn to use these "gifts" more intentionally in order to become "response-able", able to respond to life instead of being controlled by it. (The book has lots more indepth info about this.)

He also teaches about the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The Circle of concern embraces everything in your life you may be concerned about. The Circle of Influence is a smaller circle within the Circle of Concern that embraces all the things you can actually do something about in life. We typically focus on the Circle of Concern, but this diminishes the influence we have in the Circle of Influence. So we need to learn to focus only on the smaller circle and it will influence the larger circle... see picture:
Next up is the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). It's a simple concept really, our relationships operate just like a checking account. We can choose to make deposits into the account, or we can make withdrawals. The deposits are positive investments in our relationships, like communicating, keeping promises, being honest, encouraging etc. The withdrawals are negative actions that hurt our relationship, like lying, being mean, not keeping promises, attacking, belittling etc. So just like your checking account, if you want your relationship to grow, you have to make more deposits than withdrawals.

The rest of the chapters gives examples of how we can do this, but basically you need to be aware(self aware actually haha) of each relationship's bank account. Make a special effort to go a whole day without making any withdrawals. And he stresses how when we do screw up (as we all will) that apologizing and accepting blame can be the biggest of all deposits for our EBA's.

Actions Steps for this Habit:
  • Begin trying to identify how you use the 4 gifts in each major family interaction. Think about the last time you reacted instead of acted and try to identify why this happened and how it could be different.
  • Spend some time identifying what your 2 circles are. List out all the things in your life you are concerned with, then list the things you have any control over. Try to focus this week on spending time only on these things.
  • Balance your EBA's. Do you have a positive or negative balance? Write down three things you can do this week to make a deposit in a relationship.

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