Source | Linkedin.com | BY:Vice President, Business Operations at SolarWinds
Crisis. Panic. Urgency. These are some of the words with negative connotations that describe many organizations. We are in constant rush, trying to squeeze as much as possible from every minute. We spend increasing amount of time online, we multitask like crazy, can’t focus on anything in particular, and we are constantly reacting to the environment around us. We are reacting, instead of acting.
Definition of proactivity
It is one of the most frequent words in management. You hear it in your performance reviews, and you are probably using it yourself when giving feedback and trying to develop other people, “you need to be more proactive.” Proactivity or proactive behavior usually refers to self-initiated behavior that is anticipatory and often change oriented. It means that you are able to anticipate future needs and start acting on them already today, as opposed to waiting and reacting on them when they actually occur. It is about being in the control of the situation, rather than being controlled by it.
It makes sense. If you are able to prevent something bad from happening, it is of course preferable from waiting and then doing damage control after the fact. It is not only about preventing something harmful. The most common situations where proactivity pays of are in communication. Being able to defuse potentially heated conversation before it has a chance to escalate is the one most useful skill in working with people.
Choosing how to act
One of the great things evolution granted to human beings is our ability to imagine. We can create an entire world in our minds. We can imagine potential futures and prepare for it. We can even imagine several different outcomes, anticipate most likely outcomes and act pre-emptively to ensure the most favorable results.
However, this only works when we want to, when we care. It means that we are able to focus on a particular problem and think it through before plunging heedlessly into an action. At the other hand, we also need to be aware that even no action has consequences. Whether we chose to act or not, we should do it with full understanding that there will be consequences in either case.
“Proactivity is not only about anticipating the future and acting to shape it, it is also about us being able to choose our responses to external stimuli.“
Choosing how to respond
Proactivity means also something else. It is not only about how we act, but also how we chose to react and feel about an external stimuli. If you are a proactive person you will never get angry with, or depressed about something that happened and that was out of your control. You know that there are some things in this universe that you can’t influence and you made your peace with that fact.
Instead of brooding about the fact that life is not fair, you accept it and learn to live with it. It doesn’t bother you. When something bad happens, you are able to shrug it off and focus your attention on other things. You focus on what you can influence and what is under your control. You don’t react, but rather you chose how to respond. You also chose to feel good about the world around you even if it doesn’t comply with your wishes.
If you are a proactive person, you are not slave to environment but you live by your values. Environment is changing and can influence your moods and abilities like weather, but constant values provide immunity to changing environment and keep you sane and happy.
Rules to follow