What Proactive Means to Me Now…

This past month my mentee and I have been digging into Habit #1 – Being Proactive from 7 Habits by Highly Successful People. In doing this we completed a month-long journaling challenge of what it looked like to be living in a proactive way daily. This is the third time, I’ve actually completed this challenge, but for some reason this time around was different. I felt much more attune towards the usage of proactivity in descriptors others used and real-life examples of it being lived out around me. I can share distinctively after our monthly debrief that my perception of what it looks and feels like to be living proactively has changed! Here’s a few ways in how:

  • Being Proactive is more than a set of actions it is a mindset!

Previously, I had thought of “Being Proactive” as a set of actions we took to plan ahead, not procrastinate, or breaking a part projects or tasks. As I’ve reflected and refined that view over the past month it goes well beyond just a planning strategy, but it is truly a mindset through which we approach the small, daily decisions.

A Living Example: This month I was visiting with my mother-in-law who serves as a para for one of our local school districts about the transition to online instruction. She pulled out her red journal and went to the page entitled, “How will COVID-19 change the way we approach teaching and learning in the future?” She shared some incredibly  thoughtful ideas about what the future could look like in education, I was excited to see the school district taking steps to initiate this level of reflection. When I shared that sentiment, “Sally this is great that the school district is having you reflect on these topics!” What Sally shared next surprised me, “Oh, Anthony they didn’t ask us to do this, I’m doing this so that if anyone were to ask I’ll be prepared to share my organized thoughts.” If that is not an example Being Proactive…then I don’t know what is!

  • Being Proactive is ALL about Preparation — Planning is just a component…

Being Proactive could be thought of in many ways as the Mindset of Preparation. Being Prepared for this journey in life is so much more than planning…our well laid plans will often change or external factors will force them to change…yet if we invest more of our time in preparation of our attitude, our habits, and our mindset then it builds our capacity to adapt to changes in our plans quickly and take full advantage of limited opportunities.

A Living Example: There was a young man I taught who was a Senior this year who could have simply taken advantage of the last few months “off”. Rather, he started his own welding fabrication business, was already completing contract jobs, and has had a backlog of project requests two months in. He could have spent the last few months being justifiably upset and at a lost, but he took Proactive steps to establish a business that had been a dream of his for sometime.

  •  Being Proactive requires finding solutions, not just seeing problems!

Often times we approach life’s curveballs as problems…problems we complain about, problems we stew on…but we spend an inordinate amount of time NOT seeking solutions. When we shift the mindset from just seeing problems to realizing solutions; it forces an adoption of responsibility and care. When we take ownership and responsibility for the solutions it can quickly turn the tide on many circumstances. Nothing is worse than a sense of helplessness, so keep in mind, what do I have the control to solve and make better within my Circle of Influence? (For more on this topic read the following post…)

A Living Example: We had been discussing for the past month the problem of drainage behind the pub I work at. We were hoping to put in a patio, but the already soggy, waterlogged ground was going to present problems when we started to dig to lay the patio foundation. We could have simply said, let’s not build it…or went with the easy, but expensive solution of digging up 100 yards to put in drainage pipe that had fiberoptic cables, sewer, and water lines scattered throughout…plus existing concrete. However, we began to put our minds to work on a solution and may have found one by capturing the water to be used in a community garden behind the pub. Then we would also do some landscaping that included water loving trees and shrubs that could soak up excess water drainage. This solution was going to cost less than half the original cost and add value for our community and the aesthetics of the property.

As always thanks for reading, growing, and being proactive with us!! Hope everyone is beginning to successfully wrap-up, in their own unique ways, this historic school year! Take care and stay healthy my friends! ~Anthony

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