The first Covey Habit is to "be proactive".
Now when I first heard this I thought this basically meant "do stuff". Proactive people to me were people who simply did things rather than sit and watch, they took initiative. So to me this was going to be an easy one, and being first I thought it should be. WRONG!
Proactivity here is about choice. It's about taking initiative to stop - think - choose. The biggest hurdle for most of us is realising we have choice. Covey separates what happens around us from how we react to it. I'll say that again another way, as it is extremely core to chapter and rest of book: Covey separates what happens to us from how we decide to react to it. At first this sounds like a nice concept, but will it work in reality?
Can you believe it, as I try and write this, my son has set two electronic keyboards to continually play random tunes, it is so loud I can hardly think! So what is happening? There is a lot of noise and I am struggling to concentrate. How am I reacting? I could use my power as a parent to tell him to stop it 'daddy is working' or even go over and unplug it. On other hand I could accept he wants to do something with me, talk to him about making a time that works for both of us and ask him to let me finish so we can play together sooner. Maybe he does not realise impact of noise on my concentration. WOW! - would you believe it, he found noise annoying also and has just turned it off himself.
Let's look at this as Covey would. My initial response of "TURN THAT DOWN!!!" is completely reactive. It's second response that Covey would describe as proactive. I took what was happening around me and chose for myself response that best worked for me. Initially I felt I had no choice, it was so loud and I just wanted it to stop, my initial reaction was to stop it using whatever I had - in this case authority of being parent. How much better would have been my second choice?
Proactivity is about accepting that there is always a choice of how you react to things around you. Ok, I can hear you "But surely some things are so basic there simply is no choice". You may not believe me now, but because we can only see through our own eyes, what we perceive as our reality, is often not reality of others.