Be Proactive; Values by Choice as Your Habit – updated.

I have mentioned Stephen R. Covey several times here on Talking Story, sharing with you what a lasting influence his teaching has had on me, my years of management practice, and my work philosophy of Managing with Aloha.

After a presentation I had done yesterday afternoon, a young woman came up to me and said, “I have been one of your silent Ho‘ohana Community on Talking Story for several months now, and I finally decided to take your advice and read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m about halfway through it, and I’m seeing a lot of the connections in Managing with Aloha. I was wondering; out of his 7 Habits, which one do you think has made the greatest impression on you?”

I had my answer ready before she had barely finished phrasing the question.

Without a doubt, it has been the very first habit, Be Proactive, which Covey calls the Habit of Personal Vision.

For me, this is the one which is the catalyst for the other 6 Habits (7, now that Covey has written The 8th Habit), similar to how Aloha is the catalyst and rootstock for the other 18 values of Managing with Aloha.

One reason is that Responsibility (Kuleana) has always been such a strong driver in my own value system, and Habit 1, Be Proactive is very much about taking initiative and seizing responsibility.
The other significant reason is that Be Proactive is about our ability to choose.

As human beings, we have the incredible power of choice, and we need not be purely reactive creatures, bouncing through our lives like the balls in a pinball machine. Covey made a huge impression on me in this regard: We can choose our personal vision, and almost always, we will have choices to choose from. This is both the privilege and distinction of our belonging to the human race. Coupled with our ability to learn, it can be argued that the power of choice is the defining significance of our species.

This is also not a one-shot deal for us, in fact, we make choices daily. The question is, do we use this ability to choose, and do we exercise our right to do so, always choosing a greater good? Do we develop this ability, this privilege, and this honor into a personal habit?

One of the things we can choose, one of the most important things of all, are our values. We choose them for our lives and our families, and we choose them for our work and our businesses. We choose them by choosing where we will live, and how we will play. We choose our values by choosing our friends and our mentors, and by choosing relationships with others who potentially will play significant roles in our lives.

We choose the values we will live by, and we make either reactive or proactive choices in regard to how they are harnessed, and how they justify and amplify our thought processes.

At this time of my life, my first, and my most proactive choice is Aloha.

What is yours?

11/07/05 Update:Thank you for your comments, and if you are reading this in an RSS feed reader, I encourage you to click in to the trackback by Stacy Brice. I also offer you this related link to a recent October post which has dropped off my main page:
Choose your values, honor your sense of self.


  1. says

    You are absolutely right about the vital importance of choosing your values wisely. Sadly, many people don’t even choose them consciously. They either accept the ones they were familiar with when they were young, unthinkingly copy what their friends say and do, or fall victim to those who wish to manipulate them for their own ends.
    Since childhood values have an enormous influence on most people, parents have a clear responsibility to help their children understand the importance of sound values. I don’t mean they should force their own values onto their children — that often produces rebellion — but they should be open about the values they follow and why they find them helpful.
    Later in life, the choice of values is something you should always do consciously and after deep thought. All sorts of groups — churches, political parties, even golf clubs — will attempt to enforce their values on their members, bringing sanctions to bear on those who don’t comply.
    Don’t be bullied. External pressure always has an ulterior motive, especially if people claim it’s for your own good! For me, perhaps my strongest value has always been independence, and it’s served me very well.
    Thanks for the timely reminder that values are chosen. I believe many folk assume they’re “built in.”

  2. says

    Choosing Values — A Sacred Duty

    Before getting to know Rosa, I knew nothing of the Hawaiian language, nor did I care. But then she came into my life, and I read her book, and was touched by what I learned about the language and the

  3. S.Balachandran says

    Everybody has values. And to each person, his values are the most appropriate and without a need to change. To say that one must choose one’s values very carefully, assumes that there is an absolute standard to evaluate the appropriateness of a value. This is not so. ‘Forgiveness’ is as much a value (to some) as ‘Taking Revenge’ or ‘Punishment’ is to some others. Both are justifiable.

  4. says

    Mahalo Adrian and S. for your comments, and Stacy for your trackback – a link to Virtualosophy I encourage everyone to take!
    Welcome to Talking Story S., I do believe this is the first time you have commented here, and I greatly appreciate that you have done so.
    I would concur that one’s values always can somehow be justified, and further that it is their right to stand by the values they have. The reason that I have focused on values in my managing with aloha philosophy is that they so undeniably will influence a person’s behavior, and it is my belief that we should always seek to behave well, affording others with aloha, dignity, and respect at all times – even in times of conflict.
    Unfortunately, it is also possible to justify bad behavior.
    In being proactive, the point is that we have the ability to choose and can do with foresight and good intention. We certainly need not change our values just for the sake of change, however hopefully we will do so in striving to be caring and thoughtful people.

  5. says

    Hi S.
    I don’t think choosing your values assumes any specific standard of appropriateness, other than this: your values should be useful to you and result in something positive.
    While negative responses may, sometimes, feel justifiable, they have a nasty habit of causing more trouble in the future. The values Rosa writes about in her marvelous book are ones I think everyone can use without concern, because Rosa and others have proved by experience they lead to good results. But still, nobody has to use them if they choose not to.
    This conversation is about sharing useful ideas, not prescribing behavior under some kind of moralistic code. Change should always be something you choose — never something others force on you to fit their agenda and not yours.