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Career Changes: Be Proactive

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One of the books on our recommended reading list is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” I have taken the course, and for a few years was a certified Covey instructor. It’s powerful stuff, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is going through career transition.


[edit] Proactive Habit

The first habit is “Be Proactive,” which is founded on the principle that individuals are responsible for the own choices and have the freedom to choose. Proactive people respond to things that happen to them according to their values not their moods, they accept responsibility for what happens to them, and they focus on the things they can control rather than worrying about the things they can’t. One of Covey’s key statements about being proactive is this: “It’s not what people do to us that hurts us. In the most fundamental sense it is our chosen response to what they do us that hurts us.”

[edit] Accepting Responsibility

What does this mean for the person who is between jobs, who’s lost a job? It means that he or she needs to accept responsibility for what happened, and have the power to choose the response. Years ago, I was a co-founder in a startup that was ultimately unsuccessful. I had taken a huge pay cut to join, and when it foundered 2 1/2 years later, I had no “net”, very little savings, and a young family. In Covey terms, it wasn’t that the company failed that mattered, it was how I chose to respond that mattered. Spending time blaming my circumstances on others would have done nothing to make a change for the better.

[edit] Conclusion

Covey likes to say that proactive people carry their own weather with them. Meaning, every day when we wake up, we get to decide if it’s going to be a good day – it can be a sunny day in Seattle for me despite what the actual weather may be. It’s not the losing of that job that will hurt you in the long run. How you choose to respond to that loss, however, will have an enormous impact on how successful you’ll be in finding whatever it is that’s next for you.

[edit] Related Best Practices

[edit] Author

The author of this article is Frank Cohee.

Frank Cohee is an accomplished coach and facilitator of individual client discovery. His highly-interactive process nurtures clients to connect their strategic goals with the realities of market needs. Focused and realistic implementation plans result. During the past 20 years Frank has assisted over 700 managers and executives as they have evolved their vocational careers.

As a particular area of coaching interest, Frank has designed and presented innovative entrepreneurial seminars over 60 times to in-excess of 600 attendees. He’s followed up with many of these clients to assist with marketing and fiscal strategic plans for their new business activities.

Prior to founding his consulting company in 1990, Process Improvement Associates, he spent 25 years in senior leadership roles with Northwest companies. These included seven years as President and COO of an innovative manufacturing company. These prior life activities provide a solid foundation of experience to integrate into his client career coaching work.

Frank holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard University with distinction.

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