Edward V. Ellis, Sr. - February 4, 2009
Being proactive is one of the success strategies that you must adopt. Most people in this world have the reactive mindset instead of proactive mindset. Have you ever attended any seminars before? Imagine that you walk into a room full of strangers to attend a seminar; will you be the first one to introduce yourself to the crowd?
Most people won’t, and that is why they are adopting the reactive mindset. Another common example of a reactive mindset is that when something bad happen, reactive people will tend to blame on the circumstances. They’ll try to find excuses and push the responsibility away from them. On the other hand, someone who is proactive will never do so.
There are some people who interpret proactive to mean pushy, aggressive, or insensitive. But that isn’t the case at all. Proactive people aren’t pushy. They’re smart, they’re value-driven, they read reality and they know what’s needed. The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out. To be different, and by different, to effect positive change in what’s out there - I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more cooperative.
Proactive is not all about taking the first step. It is also about being responsible. The word, ‘responsible’, meaning that you’re ‘response-able’, which suggests that you’re able to choose to respond according to the situation. It is just like when something bad happen, you can choose to grief and get nothing done or you can choose to look for solution and solve the problem.
Proactive is a habit. It is something that once you’ve adopted it, you’ll never get loose of it. You’ll a proactive person and a go-getter. Conversely, for reactive people, they are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they’ll feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines make no difference to them. They are value-driven and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.
Reactive people are also affected by their social environment. This also means that when people treat them well, they’ll feel well. When people don’t treat them well, they’ll become protective and defensive. Reactive people are those that will build their behaviors and performance on behave of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.
This shows that reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values - carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can hurt you without your consent.” You have the ability to choose what to respond. It is your response that will determine how you feel. If you’ve just won a lottery, you can choose to happily enjoy all the money or you can choose to worry about your security. It is all about how you respond to the situation that is happening around you.
And the decision you make in your heart is value that you adopt all this while. Meaning that it is you who determine your life. You are who you are today because of the decision you’ve made yesterday. Reactive people will respond to the situation differently than proactive people. And that is why you need to adopt this success strategy right now into your life. I know that it will be hard for you to switch from reactive to proactive in a sudden.
Here are 3 simple steps that will guide you into becoming a proactive person. All you need to do is to follow through and apply these steps below into your daily lives. It is in the ordinary events of everyday that you develop the proactive capacity to handle the extraordinary pressures of life. It’s how you make and keep commitments, how you handle traffic jam, how you respond to an irate customer or a disobedient child. It’s how you view your problems and where you focus your energy. And of course, the language you use in your daily life will also affect you.
Here are the steps…
1. For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as ‘if only’, ‘I can’t', or ‘I have to’?
Here are some of the examples of reactive language:
· There’s nothing I can do
· That’s just the way I am
· He makes me so mad
· They won’t allow that
· I have to do that
· I can’t
· I must
· If only
Switch these languages into proactive languages:
· Let’s look at our alternatives
· I can choose a different approach
· I control my own feelings
· I can create an effective presentation
· I will choose an appropriate response
· I choose
· I prefer
· I will
2. Identify an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past experience, you would probably behave reactively. How could you respond proactively? Take several minutes and create the experience vividly in your mind, picturing yourself responding in a proactive manner. Remind yourself of the gap between stimulus and response. Make a commitment to yourself to exercise your freedom to choose.
3. Determine a problem from your work or personal life that is frustrating to you. Determine whether it is a direct, indirect, or a no control problem. And then try out this pro-activity test for 30 days.
Simply try out these steps and see what happens. Make small commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Try it in your marriage, in your family, in your job. Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it immediately. Don’t get into blaming, accusing mode. Work on things you have control over.
It is the value, the thought, the habit that you have deep within you that is the problem, not the situation, not your wife, not your boss and not your children. It is YOU that determine the outcomes you’re going to receive. You are responsible for your own effectiveness, for your own happiness, and ultimately, your life.
So learn to adopt this fundamental success strategy in your life. It is the basic mental effectiveness to every other habit in your life.
Remember… “The overall outcome of your life is up to you.”