Do you sometimes let conditions beyond your control dictate your day? Have you ever been a victim of someone else’s circumstance? I often catch myself in reactionary mode when I should be functioning in a more proactive role as an activist. I use the word activist because it might make you a little uncomfortable and possibly cause you to take notice…that, and I’m not sure if “proactionary” is even a word. To be an activist is to be proactive. Proactive has more subtle definitions: hands-on; down to business; positive. We’ve all attended Sales 101 courses that tell you to “be proactive,” but what on earth does that really mean in this context?
To define proactive, we need to start with a look at the characteristics of reactive in the form of common statements:
“____ has ruined my life”
“I’ll never do ____”
“That’s just the way I am.”
“I have to ____”
“I can’t ____”
As a “reactionist,” you’ll probably find that you are easily offended, you blame others for what’s not right with your life, you complain too much and probably over react; then regret it. Reactionists are slaves to circumstance with nothing empowering as the result. Put simply, living your life in reactionary mode does not allow you to be the boss of you.
Shifting into activist mode will help you become your own boss. An activist will say:
“Let’s find a way to ____”
“I choose to ____”
“I can do it.”
“There has to be a way to do this.”
“Let’s be part of the solution.”
They’re all just words…but we know that words are powerful both negatively and positively…and they can cause a paradigm shift in your mood, your workspace and in your organization. Other definitions behind proactive are: acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory; in control of an expected occurrence or situation.
All of these definitions negate the opportunity to be a victim of any circumstance. Using the theory that if you’re operating in anticipation of or if you’re prepared, pliable and nimble, you will be ahead of the curve and you cannot be the victim of any situation, no matter what. That’s it; nothing more, nothing less. Motivational speakers are saying exactly that, but “be proactive” sounds much sexier than “be prepared.” People wouldn’t pay a nickel for a speaker hanging that banner. Being prepared is a good enough mantra for the Boy Scouts; it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.
Be prepared, be proactive, be an activist for the situations in your career. Be the boss of you! Don’t let circumstance guide you, guide your circumstances for an outcome that is empowering in your life.