Most businesses nowdays do not understand the differences between what being pro-active and re-active means. Human beings think they see the world as it is when in turn they are actually looking at the world as they are. The difference between the two is that being pro-active is relegating a choice with a desired outcome and being re-active is governed by habit and indicating response. Many people and businesses are no stranger to these effects. A lot of people go through their lives as if it was just meant to be and they have no control of the consequences. I am here to tell you that if you think this, if you live this way, or if your business operates in this fashion, than you are terribly wrong. The hard reality is that we are all slaves to split second bad decisions that inevitably put us into a re-active state. Where-as if we would have spent just a little more time being pro-active before making the choice, our exit would have been more beneficial. Seventy Eight percent of the small businesses and non-profits that our company has worked for are actually more re-active than pro-active. And a good majority of the executives that run these businesses and non-profits were to. Here is a short list of warning signs that could lead you to be in a reactive situation.
– Reacting to circumstances and not being in control of a situation when it gets out of hand. (If you are part of the problem and not the solution than you meet these criteria).
– Split second decisions without giving it any thought. (Think before you act).
– Becoming the victim of an income, rather than the being the sovereign.
– Living your life and running your business on autopilot.
– Asking yourself after you made the choice if you made the right choice. (If you are always second guessing yourself than you fit this model).
– Becoming more and more resistant to change. (Learn to develop yourself and your business).
– Taking too long to make decisions. (Sometimes taking too long can be less proactive and more reactive).
– You let the events set the agenda for your business and life. (Never give up and always stay focused).
So one might ask how is it that I can be more pro-active? We have a five step approach that if followed can help you not only in your business life, but personal life as well. These steps are a proven result oriented line that you can add to but not take away. The key to these steps are not what happens to you, but what you are going to do about it to make it happen.
1. Set Your Goals: Whether it be personal or business, SET YOUR GOALS! One way of doing this would be write your goals down and follow them to the design. Making sure that you accomplish these goals and crossing them OFF your list once they are reached. When I asked in my last seminar how many people had a goal list, NO ONE raised their hand. I even went further and asked some of the audience to give me a list of their top top goals. Most of them could not even come up with three goals. So take this step very seriously and with the utmost of thought. This is the stepping stone to ALL other steps.
2. Take the Initiative: How many times have you just sat there to put off an important decision and then make it at the last minute? So many companies and executives procrastinate when it comes to making the hard choices. Taking the initiative and charging forward with these decisions will help you become in retrospect, proactive. The military uses the metaphor of leading from the front. This is true in business as well. By becoming that front leader, by taking the initiatives to charge forward, you have put being re-active on the back burner.
3. Transition Yourself: Get into the mindset that you can and will make timely decisions. Start thinking like a pro-active person and start living like a proactive person. We have a saying here in the consulting world, “if you are one percent better every day, than in one hundred hundred days you become one hundred percent better.” Learn to prioritize yourself and limit yourself towards making those bad calls. Do your research and ask questions. This way you have all the facts presented to you before making that big decision. Also learning to manage your priorities can really be beneficial in putting yourself into those less stressful situations. Besides if you plan ahead the stress levels are much less than you would have if you did not plan at all.
4. Listen more talk less: Listening to everything presented to you is a way of making solid choices. Many executives want to do all the talking and none of the listening, and this goes for middle to entry level management as well. Often at times if you miss something vital it will lead you into making a wrong call in any situation. Stressing the importance of listening versus talking is something that will save you time and energy if you are ever making a choice that might lead you into a potentially re-active state.
5. Continue Developing: Do not just stop at the first good choice you make. Continue to strive to become better in your own decision making process. Being pro-active takes time and takes commitment. Developing yourself and your business can be an effective way to becoming a more productive leader. Learning more about yourself, your business and your environment can help you break the re-active crutch.
Do not blame someone if you are constantly playing the reaction blame game. Take responsibility for your own actions, make those hard solid choices, and stay disciplined in developing yourself further. If you follow these five simple steps, you have taken the path to becoming more pro-active.