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  • Team ViGEO

Habits of Success - Be Proactive

Students, are you tired of staying at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Still trying to adjust to the “new normal”? Feel like your education might get short-circuited? Don’t know what to do with your future? Then, join us on a journey through seven life-shaping habits to help you thrive from home, and not just survive.

In a series of seven blogs, we at ViGEO give students a quick tour of Stephen Covey’s seven habits from his famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These habits will help students feel more confident, become more efficient, and live more skillfully for the rest of their lives.


In today’s blog, you will learn about two things:

  1. Being proactive

  2. Focusing on your circle of influence

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

One of the best ways you can learn to thrive in any situation is this: be proactive and not just reactive! Covey has this amazing statement:

"The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized values."

Reactive students are driven by feelings and circumstances. Proactive students are driven by facts and values.

Suppose two students take a test and they both fail. One of them blames the teacher and gives up. The other one takes responsibility and ownership, studies harder, and tries to improve. What’s the difference? The first student projects her actions on the teacher. But the second student acknowledges her mistakes and strives to get better. This is the difference between proactive and reactive students.

In simple terms, reactive students complain about things that are out of their control. Proactive students don’t complain about things they have no control over; they take initiative to improve what they can control. In other words, they focus on their circle of influence.

Focus on Your Circle of Influence

Covey uses a simple drawing of two circles to help you focus on what matters most: the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.

The Circle of Concern includes all the things you can’t control. It’s bigger because we worry about a lot of things…like a pandemic! But also, people’s opinions, interruptions, weather, economy, politics, etc. The Circle of Influence includes all the things you can control. It’s smaller and much more manageable. Like personal habits, attitude, hobbies, enthusiasm, skills, education, etc.

The problem comes when you begin to live in the circle of concern. What if you don’t get what you want? Then, you become anxious, sad, and depressed. If your happiness is found in the circle of concern, then life will be hard. Here are a few things you may want to have, but are ultimately out of your control.

“I want to score full marks…then I’ll be happy.” “I want to see my friends…then I won’t be bored.” “I want a better teacher…then study more.”

It’s so easy to live in the circle of concern! It’s not wrong to want things, but when your life is only lived for wants, you will get depressed.

What you need to do is to live in the circle of influence. This circle is not filled with things you want to have in the future, but what you can and will be right now. Look at the same things you want to have in the future and rewrite them with what you can be right now:

“I will be focused and become a good student.” “I will be a good friend by calling my friends.” “I will be a learner and study more.”

Notice the difference between the two lists? The first list includes things you can’t control. The second includes what you can control.

Enjoy the Results

Now, here is an amazing result from focusing on your circle of influence: your circle of influence expands to change your circle of concern.

When you learn to focus on growing instead of worrying about being the best student, you get better marks. When you call your friends on the phone instead of complaining about not seeing them, life does get better. When you focus on learning from your teacher instead of critiquing him or her, you study more.

Students, if you wait to act, you will be acted upon. So take initiative and responsibility for your actions. Always remember that as you become a more proactive student, your circle of influence grows bigger; you become more successful, both academically and in life.

So be proactive!

Actions Steps

  1. List out five things in your life that are in your Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

  2. Replace “I want to have’s” with “I will be’s”.

  3. Accept what you can’t control and focus your efforts on what you can.

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1 Comment

G B Amar
G B Amar
May 31, 2021

Very inspiring article, wonderful blog for students as well as adults who not just want to survive but want to thrive. Thanks. -gbamar

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