How do you choose to react to experiences both good and bad? According to Johnny Covey, author of 5 Habits to Lead from Your Heart, there are two choices to make: You can react with your head or you can react with your heart. When you react with your head, he writes, you are mostly trying to protect yourself. In essence, you are acting out of fear or self-preservation. A better alternative, Covey argues, is to react with your heart instead — to focus on progressing instead of protecting. Covey uses this dichotomous choice in response to experience to build a head-to-heart framework. Across the top of the framework are his three Ps of progress: previous, present and possible. The present is the experience you are reacting to, Covey writes, and the other two Ps represent the different choices: the “head” choice to retreat to the comfort of the past (the previous) or the “heart” choice to reach for the possible. Under previous and possible, Covey places the three phases of experience: think, feel and do. Thus, faced with an experience, one can react by thinking, feeling and doing what was done previously or, on the contrary, by thinking, feeling and doing something new, ambitious and courageous so that you can progress. Covey’s five habits are intended to lead his readers to choose possible over previous.
Making the Right Choices
The first habit is to Be Courageous. For Covey, this is the foundational habit of leading from your heart. Covey describes, as an example, the decision he and his wife made to become foster parents — when at the time they had four children aged 5, 3, 2 and 7 months. Their heads told them not to become foster parents (as did many of their friends and family). However, Covey writes, they took the plunge and became foster parents to two girls, who are now teenagers thriving in the Covey household. Covey’s second habit is to Be You. In this section, Covey urges readers to understand why they feel the way they do (their core motivations), what they are good at doing and how they think about things. In each of these areas, Coveys offers four archetypes. For example, “visionaries,” “thinkers,” “artists” and “researchers” are the do archetypes, each having different strengths. “Managers,” “project managers,” “organizers” and “playmakers” think differently. And our core motives, Covey writes, will lead each one of us to be a “producer,” “people” person, “playful” person or “peaceful” person.