Dr. Stephen Covey once made reference to his awakening on a gray, melancholy, rainy day. He said that doing this could make us reason that we could be excused for feeling gray and melancholy ourselves. We can get into a mood and our whole day seems to go badly. He made reference to how we typically feel better when the weather outside is great. This point was tied to the ability to "carry our own weather" within us. “My own weather”, you ask?
Do you not agree that we tend to feel better when we’re treated better by the people around us? That is what he defined as being reactive to the “social weather” or culture. However, if we “carry our own weather”, we can choose to be consistent regardless of how we are treated by others. That statement is what Dr. Covey tied into the first of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That habit is “Be Proactive”. Being reactive is the opposite action. It is the action of allowing others to dictate our weather or how we will feel from day to day. We should choose to take responsibility of our own lives and not be a “victim” of our moods or another person. Be proactive.
Dr. Covey made the statement, “Habit 1 is based on the principle that your life is the result of your own decisions, not your conditions, not what’s happening around you.” This is the foundation habit that must be practiced if we are to succeed at practicing the other six.
You see, it’s not what people do to us that hurts us, it’s our chosen response to what they do that hurts us. Dr. Covey referenced a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “They cannot take away our self-respect, if we do not give it to them.” We have the ability to choose our responses.
When others give us stimulus, there is a space there where we select a response. When we are reactive, we allow that outside stimulus to control our response. When we are proactive, we pause to allow ourselves the freedom to choose our response based on our own principles and desired results. We, in effect, “carry our own weather”. We have the power and freedom to choose. We select our own weather each day. As leaders, this is an important ability to possess.
To make this effective, we need to remember that we are free to choose and are ultimately responsible for our own happiness. In leadership, possessing the ability to be consistent in behavior and response is very important. This engenders trust from those that are to follow us. Dr. Covey's advice is wonderful in this regard. So...what's your weather?
Keenan McBride, CPTM