Be Proactive, not Reactive
If you read this to the end… You will be glad you did.
I went into prostitution when I was at the University because I lost my father and there was no one to pay my tuition fees.
I became an armed robber because my rich uncle threw my family out of the house. I had to rise and become a man. And that meant, stepping up my bravery and robbing a bank.
Yes, I run a small kiosk in front of my house, even though I have three children to feed and my drunk of a husband hardly supports the home. Life is hard and unfair. I live from hands to mouth. I guess, God hates me and my kind. This was exactly the kind of poverty my mother suffered and her mother’s mother too.
Seven years from the University and still no job. I stay at home all day, praying and fasting. The pastor says it is that my wicked Aunt that has locked my success. Every monitoring spirit, every demon blocking my path, every evil veil covering my CV… Die by fire! Die by fire! Amen, Amen!
Chi-family, these four people above are the voices of reactivity. While I was researching about Stephen Covey’s concept of proactivity, I realize that most of us at one time or another in our lives have been reactive to our situations.
Life always presents two pathways to everyone: the reactive pathway and the proactive pathway.
People who take the reactive pathway are people who are controlled by their environment, their circumstances. They’re affected by whatever happens to them. They blame everyone and everything for their failures and their mistakes. They love complaining. They love to groan about how unfair life is. How bad their situation is and how badly people treat them.
But proactive people on the other hand are people who, in spite of their circumstances, hurdles and limitations, rise above the mud. This special group of people do not bow to excuses. They don’t kneel before challenges. Rather they face their obstacles and conquer them.
Like Stephen Covey puts it:
“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it”
Most reactive people live a life of mediocrity, poverty and sadness, this is because reactive people are like leaves blown by the wind, they dance to whatever condition they find themselves. But a proactive person acknowledges that life may not be fair but it is his responsibility to choose to get up and work instead of crying and complaining about life’s unfairness.
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I’m a product of my decisions.” Stephen Covey.
The following are several examples of how to be proactive in the way you speak to yourself and others.
Reactive: “I can’t…” Or, “Why can’t I…?”
Proactive: “How can I…?”
Reactive: “I should… I have to…”
Proactive: “I want to… I long to… I desire…”
Reactive: “Why can’t I stop doing that?”
Proactive: “What would I rather be doing? What’s one small step I can take towards making the change I want?”
Reactive: “That’s just how it is.”
Proactive: “What can I do to change this?” Or, if you cannot change the circumstances, ask yourself, “What can I do to change my personal experience of what is happening?”
Reactive: “If only I had more time…” Or, “I’m just too busy to do what I really want.”
Proactive: “How can I make time? What is most important right now? What can I let go of to make time for what’s most important to me?”
Reactive: “If only they would change…”
Proactive: “They are who they are. What can I do to meet my own needs or to change this relationship?”
Reactive: “I can’t do this all on my own.”
Proactive: “How can I receive the support I need?”
So, with the earlier life examples I gave, a proactive person will never say… “oh because my father is dead, so, prostitution is my only way through school… A proactive person will rather choose to do menial jobs, babysit, organize paid tutorials, learn a skill or any other job she can get in other to achieve her dreams. So, for a proactive person, whining and self destruction will never be an option, rather she will arise to the challenge and conquer it.
A proactive person will never bow to the frustration of the pain brought by his uncle throwing his family out of the house thereby pushing himself to robbery. A proactive person will rise to the challenge of creating a beautiful future for his home through just means. He will put his brains to work, study and equip himself. He will work day and night and save so he can build the future he so desires.
Chioma loves Chi-family and I sincerely hope Chi-family will become proactive people.