7 Habits of Highly Effective (People) Entrepreneurs – Proactivity

Illustration by Aleksey Chizhikov from icons8

When entrepreneurs set and meet their professional goals, they can have tremendous success. However, it costs them their family and personal life. Sometimes, they can even get confused about what is important to them in life. They often switch between diet plans, join personal development courses, and try to figure out the key to a meaningful life. They find themselves unhappy, unproductive, and lacking peace. Sometimes, their goals turn into delusions, and they begin to think if what they are doing will make any difference in the long run.

Something similar happened to Stephen Covey, almost after 25 years of professional life. Back then, he was involved in a leadership development work with various clients throughout the States. He had a great career as a motivational speaker and trainer ahead when he started questioning his ideas.

He started to question how perceptions are formed and how they behave in our day to day lives. He began to question his training and how they had been wrongly approaching their personal and professional lives. They realized that to have a fulfilling life, they would need to change themselves first, and adapt to some laws, or fundamental principles of human effectiveness. These principles are true for entrepreneurs, and to every other professional and personal situation where career, health, and happiness are involved. 

Proactivity for Entrepreneurs

Active entrepreneurs know that they are responsible for their behavior and choices. They do not blame circumstances or conditions. Every decision is conscious, based on values, instead of conditions, which are often based on feelings. 

Reactive entrepreneurs are affected directly by their surroundings. If things go right, they feel right. If not, the conditions directly affect their performance. Proactive entrepreneurs understand how to carry their absolute terms with them all the time. They are driven by value. They hold an ability to subordinate an impulse in favor of values, uninfluenced by external stimuli, conscious or unconscious. 

It is not what happens to you, but how you respond to it defines you as an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur faces different challenges, which often leads to paradigm shifts if confronted proactively. 

Circle of Influence and Concern

Entrepreneurs need to be self-aware about where they focus time and energy. Balance in social and professional life is what you should be aiming for, which you can achieve by creating your Circle of Influence and Concern. 

Looking within, you can realize that there are things you have no control over, and other things that you can do something about. By understanding and defining these two circles, we can focus our energies productively, and discover proactivity. Proactive entrepreneurs focus their energies on the sphere of influence, which helps them keep the nature of their power positive, magnifying, and causing it to expand their influence. 

When starting as an entrepreneur, many a time, they tend to focus on their circle of concern. They concentrate on the weakness of their resources, the problems with the environment, circumstances, and things they have no control over. 

They blame, accuse, and use reactive language. When you approach a situation with this, you are planning to fail, because as focus shifts, their circle of influence shrinks, and they slowly lose control over conditions, circumstances, and problems. 

The three types of control problems

As an entrepreneur, you will either have direct, indirect, or no control over a situation. Direct problems are related to your behavior and approach to situations; indirect control problems compare to other people’s behavior; no-control issues being situations that you have control over at the present moment. 

Direct control problems are just habits. Approach problems with the right type of practice, and you will solve the problem soon enough. Change the patterns that are working against you, pulling you out of control, and build the right habits that work for you. 

Indirect control problems are about people and how you influence them. There are over 30 separate methods of human influence, from empathy to persuasion. Most people operate with just three or four ways and choose flight-or-fight behavior when they feel out of control. Only by learning new methods, you can influence people’s actions, bring indirect control problems under your circle of influence. 

No control problems are to be dealt with a smile and by genuinely accepting these problems. You got to learn to live with them, even though you don’t like them. This way, you don’t empower these problems to control your reactions. 

Growing your circle of influence

Your influence will grow as long as values drive you. As an entrepreneur, if you can interpret, anticipate, and empathize with a situation, you won’t be bound by the influences of your competitors, markets, or negative customer growth. 

Do more than what your customers expect; anticipate their needs and empathize with the underlying concerns and grievances. When you present your product or service, make sure you offer a very focused version of the product that your customer can benefit from. 

Similarly, with your staff and employees, try to hire employees who complement your expertise. Instead of telling them what to do and how to do, ask them what they can bring on the table. Instead of feeling threatened by their expertise, figure out a way to work together with them, and also appreciate them for their concern. 

Proactivity in entrepreneurship doesn’t mean pushy, or aggressive or insensitive. It means you are smartly driven by value, focused on reality, and understand what needs to be done. 

Influencing Consequences for Decisions

Stephen Covey rightfully tells that “While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions.” Consequences are naturally occurring situations by natural laws. They are not under your control, and thus out of your circle of influence. 

As an entrepreneur, you will realize after coming to the receiving end of consequences that the choices where wrong, and you would do that differently next time. They are mistakes that you have no control over. When you are filled with regrets for errors, the most proactive thing you can do is acknowledge it, correct it, and learn from it. 

Testing your entrepreneurial spirit with proactivity

Practicing proactivity shouldn’t mean going to a death camp. What you can do is recognize the ordinary events in your day to day life, and learn to develop proactive capacity in extraordinary pressures at life and work. Try this for 30 days. 

As an entrepreneur, being proactive will mean focusing on your customers, your resources, and operating from your circle of influences. It means making small commitments to yourself and your teams and keeping them. It means looking for creative solutions in the face of problems. Understand that you’re response-able.