Proactive or Reactive?

Our Weekly 2 Minute Read

Edition 94 - April 19, 2020



Focus on the things you can control. Don’t focus on the things you can’t control. According to Stephen Covey, “It is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happens to us in the first place.”

In other words, 10% is what actually happens to us, and 90% is how we react to it.

In life, there are so many things that will happen to us. Some will be positive and some will be negative. Understanding that we have the will to decide how we react to those influences give us the power to have more control over the outcome.

This is the habit of being proactive.

Being proactive allows us to be in control of how we live our lives. Instead of being a product of our circumstances, understanding and developing this habit allows one to choose the paradigms in which he or she lives their lives.

Being aware and having self-awareness of this habit allows us to take responsibility of our own choices. We are allowed to exam our own decisions, view how we handle different situations and develop ourselves to be more effective moving forward.

Being proactive means not being reactive. This starts with the thoughts, then words and actions. Eventually this becomes a habit that allows a person to control and generate positive energy towards a stimulus versus a reactive person will just react towards the stimulus. Usually if the stimulus is negative, the reactive person will not have control over their own circle of influences and will succumb to their circle of concerns. The reactive person will only focus on the stimulus which is the concern and not focus on the response which is the influence that he or she has on the situation.

Here are a few examples of proactive and reactive languages.

Reactive: There’s nothing I can do. That’s just the way I am. He makes me so mad. The assignment is too hard.

Proactive: Let’s look at our alternatives. I can choose a different approach. I control my own feelings. I can prepare and do my best.

Not to get into a debate of free will versus determinism, but based on my experience, it was once I was made aware that I have the ability to be proactive when facing adversity, that I realized the power of being proactive. Usually when things are going well, it’s easy to be proactive. It’s when things are not going well that one actually learns the lesson and starts harnessing the power of the proactive habit. These things start with being aware, thinking the right thoughts, speaking the right words and then doing the right actions. Having certain languages and scripts can be the difference between being reactive which is out of our control or being proactive which is within our control.

By being proactive, one can take initiative by actively working on the thoughts, behaviors and actions that move us towards where we want to go. When we start to take initiative and start proactively working on doing the right things today, it prepares us from being reactive during times of crisis and helps us navigate through the dynamic natures of life.

To start being proactive, “Watch your thoughts; they become your words. Watch your words; they become your actions. Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” – Lao Tzu.

-Mike Ye