On Being Proactive

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ introduces ‘Being Proactive’ as the first habit. A requirement to lead, succeed or a phrase that describes going ahead in life.

If ‘Being Proactive’ is all about an action, it is controlled by the word ‘How’. This ’How’ brings the behaviour of procrastination - hoping for a better time or an external support to make your path easier. A habit that you will never see in highly effective people. 

In any path that one chooses, there has to be a purpose. A purpose of what you ultimately want, either as a take home or a give back to society, which becomes your passion. It begins with a dream. What you envision for yourself. This is your start point!

Between your start point and the finish there is a path one takes. Along this path is the effort you put in, the known factors (within our control) those you are mentally ready to face and the unknown factors (beyond our control) that bring you to the crossroads; whether to continue or not. I personally would not want to use the word ‘give up’. Giving up is the easiest route and also the toughest as it kills the person ‘You’- the inner self.

I recently completed an expedition on my motor bike from Kanyakumari to Kashmir along with 4 of my friends. In the flag off from Hyderabad to our return we covered over 8600 kms. Covering this long distance was a race against time and the same also tested our endurance to the core. The ‘knowns’ were our itinerary, every day destination and the five of us. The ‘unknowns’ were the weather, bikes repairs or breakdowns, time of arrival to the destination, road conditions, traffic, driving or riding abilities of other motorists, health, etc.

The fear of ‘unknowns’ made it extremely difficult to continue the path. The biggest question, as I raced towards the destination was, ‘Do I turn back and take to my comfort zone?’ The zeal and enthusiasm we have at the beginning needs to sustain. Indeed, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

We tend to react when we give greater priority to everything else around. The way ahead is based on things beyond your control which ultimately reflects in your behaviour. Responding depends on a person’s personal values- what is right rather than who is right.

Several situations either make us to react or respond. Reacting to a situation brings down your energy and worsens the situation. In responding the situation remains the same and the energy you have is good to look for solutions or alternatives. You would be able to draw energy and give energy. 

It's imperative to understand that there are several factors that contribute to your success. In a work environment we call it our team, at home it’s our support system and in other situations they are the contributors. More than looking for perfection in them, you need to acknowledge their presence and the difference they make. Being proactive helps to build a positive environment around us. 

To be Proactive one needs to give priority to self- take care of your inner being. Understand self- stay healthy both physically and mentally. Exercise in any form is mandatory. Set aside time for yourself preferably early morning or late in the evening. Here there should be no room for ‘gadgets’ that should stop you from thinking about your inner being. I call it my ‘Me time’. Time to feed my soul. Healthy eating habits go without saying. 

You need to counter your fears and apprehensions. As a person whose passion apart from riding a bike is driving, I can relate to the wind shield of a car, side mirrors and the rear view mirror while enjoying my journey. I need to look through the windshield to drive to my destination. The side mirrors and the rear view mirrors are my earlier fears or mistakes. I don’t focus on them. However, I use them as a guide to plan the turns while driving ahead.

Time never stays. It passes. However the feeling stays on. Let it be a positive feeling taking you ahead leading the path for someone else. Don’t look for a better situation to begin. Instead, begin to make the situation better

by Anita Peter

Oct 17, 2017