Hello! Kevin here with the first episode in the 7-part series, The Habits of Highly Effective People by the author, Stephen Covey.

Why am I starting with this book? This book is one of the most popular books on self-improvements that I know of. Most people that like reading about these types of topics will know this book, have read this book. It is often used in business classes as well.

All of these ideas are very, very useful in business and in personal life. A lot of these ideas will help you become more productive, more liked by others, less stressed, and in general, be able to deal with situations in life in a better way.

There are seven different habits. I’m going to do an episode on each habit, talk about the main idea, and give you some actionable tips and advice on what to do and how to implement these ideas into your own life.

The best way to listen to these episodes if you really want to not only improve your English, but also really absorb the ideas from these books and Ted Talks is to repeat the lessons at least a couple of times. They’re short. It shouldn’t be too hard to listen to each episode two or three times. If you listen to it ten times, your English will improve even faster. That’s how it works, believe me.

The first habit of the book, this habit is called be proactive

There are two types of people, people that take action and people that don’t take action. It seems that so many times, through teaching English, students, business as well, and even myself, of course, I’ve had many, many times where I was not taking action on things.

And what do we do? We’d find ways to blame others or to put the responsibility on other factors – other people, other situations, your teacher, your boss. We don’t take responsibility for our lives.

The one deciding factor between people that produce results are they take action. It’s not easy. It takes discipline, learning how to form habits, all these different things I will talk about in different episodes. There are strategies, but it is something that I truly believe. To get to where we want to be, we have to take action. We have to be responsible adults to achieve our goals.

So, without further delay, let’s get into the first habit. Bam-o!

So, this is the first habit in the book of 7 Habits. And this habit is called be praoctive. Basically, with this habit, the author is telling you to take control of your own life. This is all about taking responsibility for your life.

So, there are two types of people. A lot of people are not proactive. They are reactive. They react to external circumstances. Their emotions and behavior are dependent on what goes on around them.

What goes on around them, what happens to them in their lives, what happens to them at work, what happens in their family, all of these external factors that constantly are changing and happening and causing chaos and all of that, affects how they react to situations. This is being reactive.

You can see this manifest itself most clearly in their use of language. People who are reactive place the responsibility for their fate on external circumstances. You can always tell a reactive person by how they talk. Reactive people blame others for everything that happens to them.

“Oh, it’s their fault… they did that. It’s their fault that I don’t speak English well. Oh, my teacher sucks. My teacher is not a good English teacher. It’s his fault I don’t speak English well.” I’ve hearrd that so many times.

Productive people take control of their own fate. The decisions that they make make them who they are. the decisions they made about English made them become fluent. No one else gave it to them. And also, if you don’t speak English, it’s nobody else’s fault.

Stop blaming everybody. Take responsibility for your life. Take responsibility for your English. Nobody else will.

One idea in this habit (and I’m not going to talk about this very much, but he talks about two different things) is the circle of concern and the circle of influence. Positive energy enlarges the circle of influence. The more positive you are, the more optimistic, the more responsible, the more influence you can have.

I’m sure you’ve seen this at work or at school, people that take responsibility for what they’re doing become more influential at work. In English class, people that take responsibility for learning and practice and study outside of class, they become more influential in class. They become better.

Versus the other side, the reactive, they focus the negative energy. It reduces your circle of influence. So, you complain, you blame other people. Where does that get you? Nowhere. Nothing happens from that. You end up just being a negative, annoying downer of a person. “She complains all the time. She’s a downer.”

Taking control of your life comes down to realizing you are responsible for your results. You have to be proactive. You have to take action. You have to stop being lazy. You have to be disciplined. Figure out, learn, discover ways to become better at the things you want to become better at.

If you are trying to become a fluent, powerful English speaker, you have to be proactive. You have to do the necessary listening and reading and find people to talk to, find the enjoyable ways to go out and to practice and to study. It’s not crazy difficult. It’s not extremely challenging. It’s just a matter of taking action.

Stop blaming other people. Stop blaming your teacher. Stop blaming your course. Stop blaming your family. Stop blaming your lack of money. Stop blaming your poor country.

Take control of your life. Take action, be proactive. Better your English and better your life. That’s the goal here. 

Being proactive, it’s now time to take action. What can we do if we find ourselves being too reactive? I’m sure you’ve been there before. I definitely have been there before. I still always have to catch myself if I’m being too reactive, and I have to, say, stop blaming others, stop basing my emotions and my behaviors on others. That’s never going to work.

I need to be more proactive. I need to come back and say, “I am responsible for this. I am responsible for how I deal with the situation. It is my responsibility. I need to take charge.”

So, as you can see, the first thing we need to do is change the language that we use. Simply change the language. Start noticing these times when you start blaming somebody else or you start thinking about what you don’t have in order to get what you want.

And start thinking, “What do I need to do? What do I need to take responsibility for? How do I need to deal with this situation? What do I need to create to make this situation better?”

Stop depending on others to create your reality. Start creating your own reality.

And the first step to do this is just to change the language in your head, literally in your mind. Change the language in your mind when these situations arise.

Find solutions. This is proactive. You can’t always control your environment, but you can control your feelings.

Another way to start being more proactive is take these reactive tasks, things at work that maybe you have to always react to. “Oh, I got to get this done. He wants this done. I have to do this.” Try to make it more proactive. Try to be ahead. Try to maybe outsource some of these or systematize some of these tasks. And you can not have to be so reactive when these things come up. You’re already prepared for these tasks.

And I think in English, it’s simple. Take responsibility for your English. I’ve talked about it enough in this episode, but that’s the difference. The difference between great English speakers and not great English speakers is usually the great ones take responsibility for their learning. If nobody is forcing you to become fluent by next year, you very possibly won’t unless you take responsibility and you find the discipline that you need to do that.

Now, I’m going to explain and define some of the words and vocab and expressions from this episode that might be unfamiliar to you. Can I go through this quickly? I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this. But finding out the definition, discovering more about these words and expressions will help you understand the concepts even better, and also, obviously, improve your English. Listen to these, learn.

So, the first one, proactive. That’s the title of this episode as well, to be proactive. To be proactive means to be prepared for something before it happens, to be responsible for something before it happens, not reactive (you don’t react). You’re prepared, you’re ready to take action before it actually happens to you, to being in control.

Next one, fate.  Fate is when things happen because they were supposed to  happen and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it anyway. Another word for fate would be destiny. What is your destiny? This is fate. You meet the girl or boy of your dreams. And of course, it’s destiny. God wanted you to meet this person because God considers every relationship out there. It’s really important for Him to make sure everybody finds each other. That was a joke. Just kidding.

So, fate. Fate, “It was fate when we met. It was destiny.”

Another word I used, sucks.  In this context, it’s when you don’t like it, that sucks. It’s discouraging, it’s depressing, it’s not of quality, it’s not what you like. “That sucks. That movie sucks. Oh, that song really sucks. Oh, my boss, he sucks.” It’s just a very general term for saying you don’t like something at all. You hate it.

Next one, a downer. If somebody is a downer, it means they’re depressing. They’re boring, they’re depressing. “That person is a downer.” He brings my emotions, he brings down the spirits down. He literally brings the emotions and the vibe down and makes things depressing and boring. So, don’t be a downer.

Last word here is blame. To blame somebody is to put responsibility of something happening on them. You assign responsibility for a fault or a wrong. “You did it. It’s your problem. You broke the glass.” I’m blaming you. Your boss gets upset, “Who did this? Who didn’t do this? Who didn’t turn this in? Who didn’t send this to the client in time?” You say, “Oh, of course, it was her.” You’re blaming her.

There you have it, the first lesson in the 7-part series, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Be proactive. Take action. Start small. Take small steps. Do something right now or the soonest possible time, but start small. Change takes time. Implementing little changes, little steps can help you build bigger habits, bigger changes for lasting results.

Another important idea here is that the first thing we can do is change our language. Whenever we find ourselves blaming somebody else, not taking responsibility for something that we are not satisfied with, in our heads, change the language we are using. Instead of “Why did this person do that? Why can’t I do this? Why does this have to be this way?”, say, “I am responsible for this. I am responsible for making this different.” Changing the language in our head will also help us to change our future actions.

So, let’s be proactive people, not reactive.

The joke for the day is, “Why can’t you give Elsa from the movie, Frozen, a balloon?” Because she will let it go.

See you next time!