Many people today focus on changing their outside behaviors for many reasons. Perhaps peer pressure, social norms and some external factors.
But we cannot change by merely changing who we are by what people see because change must begin inside and ends outside as its manifestation.
I was reading the book of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and would like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from being proactive and it is more than merely taking initiative.
1. Being proactive means being responsible. Being reactive means the otherwise.
Having the ability to choose “our response”.
Highly proactive people do not blame circumstances. They do not play the blame game. They recognize that they are what they are right now because of the choices they made in the past.
As I reflect on this, I admit that I am a proactive person. I love taking initiative but also I am a reactive person because I often blame the circumstances or would love to slack rather than to hustle.
Some of my decisions in the past were made out of how I feel and not on what should I do. I was driven by emotion.
I remember when I was young, I often give up when things come to shove. 4 years ago, I found myself complaining to my boss because he blocked my internet access in the office making me stop what I am developing. (I was a Software Developer).
The result was not good, instead of making the initiative to do my best to finish the project, I went to my boss’s desk and told him how I was frustrated. We didn’t resolve the issue so afterward I wrote a resignation letter in front of him telling him that I want to quit.
That’s one of the reactive responses that I was made in the past.
As they say; “Do not make decisions when you are hungry and angry, sleep over it and think about it again”.
There’s one person that I always look up in terms of good response. Jesus. In the Bible, we can’t find him reacting to his opponents in an emotional way. He often responds in a respectful way yet, full of wisdom that makes a person reflect on his actions.
2. Proactive people make decisions based on their values. Reactive people make the decision out on how they feel.
We have the different set of values and they differ according to our priorities.
I value my faith in God first and then my family and list goes on. And I think having different values clashes people.
For example, if one does not value what I value , the tendency is that, I will force my values on them making this world an unsafe place to live, and probably one of the actions reactive people would do.
I have learned that proactive people do not make decisions based on their feelings. They make a decision out of their values and principles. You cannot force your values or convictions to other people.
3. Proactive People Act. Reactive People wait to be acted upon.
I grew up being a reactive person. I often wait for my parents to call me for help, or something that needs to be done rather than acting upon on it immediately.
The time I started working on my own, things haven’t change immediately, because of my introvert nature, I often waited to be acted upon.
Like for example if I need to update my boss of what I am doing, I usually waited for him or her to follow up rather than taking an initiative to act immediately and that was one my weaknesses that often gave to me as areas I need to improve on.
Proactive people know the value of waiting, but they are not passive. They can act immediately.
In terms of this one, it has been said in the Scriptures that there was a period in the history wherein people are not going out of their comfort zone to share the gospel with others. What happened was, a man named Saul was raised to approve the killing of believers and persecution started to kick in.
And because of that the people of God was spread out and they started to share the gospel across the nation. Don’t get me wrong but I think it’s one of the few examples I have in mind for being reactive.
4. Proactive People focus and find solutions on what they can control. Reactive people focus on problems and keep digging into it.
In many ways, human nature is to dig into problems rather than finding the solution. I have seen this trait in most people.
They often complain what’s going to the economy and they fear it will collapse and they don’t stop blaming the government for it.
Some of them often uttered self-fulfilling prophesies that this country will be a waste because of several factors.
Those people are reactive. They focus on problems. They are often anxious and not trustworthy. They are driven by the emotion of fear and resentment.
Proactive people find solutions instead. If they think they cannot control what’s happening, they rather find a way at least for them to gain the advantage over it.
Proactive people always act in faith on the things they cannot control.
Proactive people know their values, and they live based on their principles and not on any social pressure, fear and resentment.
5. Proactive People work on “becoming”. Reactive people focus on “having”.
I’ll be happy when I have my own car…
I’ll be happy when I have my own business…
If I had a Master’s Degree…
If I could just have more time for myself…
I realize, every time we think of the problems we have, we empower them to control us until they become the center of our lives.
One of the few examples of reactive people in the Bible was Moses. He sees the problem and weakens by it but despite it, God made him a ruler of His people.
One example of the proactive person in the Bible was Joseph The Dreamer.
His story was inspiring and have been using in different motivational and inspirational speeches.
When Joseph was young, his brothers sold him to become a slave in Egypt. Yet Joseph did not exhibit any self-pity for himself.
Instead, he worked on himself. He grew himself with the faith his father Jacob imparted to him. He lived the principles that were taught to him making him more an effective person.
Joseph then became second in command of Pharoah.
It is easier for us to blame others or have pity on ourselves if we are in his situation but Joseph did not because he is a proactive person. He relied on his faith that even he cannot control the situation, his faith in God is going to let him out of it.
A proactive approach to any situation, Stephen Covey said is :“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the thing over which I have control — myself”.
What are the things we can control? Our response. It’s up to us whether we find a solution immediately or pray in faith first that everything will be okay and then act and observe what God will do in your situation — both of them are acts of proactiveness.
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