How Proactive are You?

Business success strategies abound and new recommendations are continuously promoted by thought leaders in the industry.  Twenty- six years ago Stephen Covey presented his iconic business and personal success model illustrating The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.  Being proactive is Covey’s first habit…why?  Because this strategy is about taking responsibility for the choices that ultimately lead to success or failure, which sets the stage for the subsequent habits.

Proactive behavior creates freedom to make thoughtful decisions rather than allowing situations to dictate our choices.  It allows us to take control of what we can control and let go of the things we cannot.  While we never know what the future has in store there are proactive measures we can take to prepare for what lies ahead.  Such preparation decreases potential challenges, enhances peace of mind, alleviates stressors, and sets us up for success.


Are you proactive or reactive?

  1. Listen to your language.  According to Covey, our language reveals if we are proactive or reactive.  A proactive person uses proactive language, such as I can, I will, I do not want,  I want, etc., while a reactive person uses reactive language, such as I can’t, I have to, I should, If only, etc.
  1. Observe where you focus your time and energy.  Do you spend your time and energy taking action on things in which you have control (proactive), such as the quality of your products and/or service, how you treat your employees, who you hire, and your company culture?  Or, do you spend time and energy worrying and complaining about things in which you have no control (reactive), such as the economy, what your competitor is doing, or the discontinuation of your top selling product?
  1. Are you more often a step ahead or a step behind?  Reactive people are constantly putting out fires and often feel frustrated because they are flooded with emergencies which make it difficult to move forward.  While proactive people still have fires to put out, there are fewer of them and the issues are less urgent because of the time wisely spent planning and preparing.
  1. Gage your stress level.  Constantly reacting to crises creates stress, whereas proactive planning creates peace.  Proactivity does not eliminate all stress/challenges, however, it significantly reduces both, so when stress/challenges do occur such situations are significantly easier to manage.

What did you determine about yourself?  Are you primarily proactive or reactive?  How is your dominate style impacting your business?  What changes are you ready to make?