Habit 1/Part I - Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice
In Habit 1, Stephen Covey espouses the importance of personal choice, distinguishing a proactive life full of responsibility and choice from a reactive life full of blame and struggle. Certainly, we all need to take responsibility for our lives. But for the Global Creative with ADHD, a posture of choice and pro-activity can be challenging to sustain. I’d like to address two areas Covey suggests we need to move away from: being reactive, and focusing on the “Circle of Concern”.
First, a word about being reactive.
Global Creatives are not reactive out of choice, but more out of necessity. “Being Proactive” requires an ability to build and sustain structure to operate through – to make plans, map visions and goals, and execute consistently. The primary ingredient for building structure is time. Like a master woodworker’s intimate knowledge of his wood medium, building structure requires intimate knowledge of the characteristics of time – how it moves, how it works and how it doesn’t work. For innovative ADHD individuals with their global (non-sequential) processing preferences, time (the definition of sequential) is like running water always slipping away. So building and sustaining structure is extremely difficult for the non-practiced Global Creative, especially when dealing with overwhelm.
Our creative approach to getting things done is to set up structures outside ourselves, so all we have to do is respond or react to make things happen. Where Global Creatives get in trouble is by not always being proactive about our responses. This is when a Global Creative can fall prey to the “latest and loudest.” Worse yet, Global Creatives are allowing others to prioritize their daily action items. How often do you look at your email first thing in the morning? And yet you have plenty of important items to address.
A useful intervention is to develop short but effective proactive planning sessions mapping out structure points or events to react to. A good friend of mine first signs up for a triathlon (the event) then begins to train. The key is to stake the event far enough in advance and chip away at the preparation. Likewise, with work projects, staking events such as planning meetings with colleagues on a regular basis can create some necessary structure and accountability to get the task done (and you get credit for being the proactive one setting up the meetings!).
Global Creatives’s can easily slip into a reactive posture on their heels playing defense, waiting for the next input before they respond. This posture can lull one into a false sense of general contentment. Notice your posture and shift into a more proactive one. This can be encouraged by some helpful questions:
What do I need?
What may I be missing? (What do I not know?)
What do I know?
Who can I tap?
What does a proactive stance look like here?
Next, we'll take a look at “Circle of Concern.” If you have time brush up on the Serenity Prayer.