Being Proactive

Living proactively means living a life without excuse, blame, or accusation. Your life is your choice and your responsibility. You may not be responsible for the situations and circumstances in your life, but you are directly responsible for how you respond to them.

No one can hurt you without your permission. Nobody can take your self-respect unless you give it to them. Make no mistake about that.

How do you go about living proactively? It starts with having deep personal integrity, which is: When what you say is in sync with what you think and with what you do, though that’s easier said than done. A proactive person is always in control of himself in all situations, including how he views problems and where to focus his energies. He always focuses on what he can do and how he can influence others through his actions and beliefs. He is always in control of his emotions because they are driven by his values, and not his feelings.

A proactive person only works on things that he has control over. He doesn’t project his intentions on other people’s weaknesses because he’s learned that doesn’t reap positive benefits.

Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning wrote:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Proactive people know and understand that there is indeed a space between a stimulus and their response, and in that space lies their capacity for growth and freedom. It’s not what happens to us, but our response to those things that can hurt us.

Proactive people don’t make excuses. Proactive people don’t wait for things to happen; when they believe in something, they make it happen. They have a set of beliefs and a value system that drives their inner core. They know their Why, and figuring out the How falls into place for them because they will find a way.

Proactive people have the courage to change what ought to be changed and what can be changed, the peace to accept what cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference between what can be changed and what cannot be changed.

Proactive people know better than to let outside things control and empower them. They know that it’s better to make peace with things they can’t control or influence.

So, why live proactively? Well, the other choice is to live reactively. Do you constantly want to react to things around you by not knowing who you are and what you believe in? Do you want others to prioritize your life for you? Does it make more sense to you to blame others for your choices when they result in negative consequences? Do you want to be driven by feelings instead of values? Of course not. That would be ineffective and counterproductive to say the least. The only way out is through living proactively.

By doing things on our schedule. By defining what’s important to us. By having a changeless core inside of us when everything around us is changing all the time. That starts with identifying our values and belief system. If we don’t know what’s important to us, then the most important thing right now is to figure out what’s important to us. How do we expect others to know what’s important to us if we don’t know what that is for us? There has to be some things about us that will never change. We need to figure out our values, which are internal.

Figure out other people’s weaknesses and complement them with your strengths.

Proactive people know that they are responsible for their actions and that they have no control over the consequences of those actions, which can be positive or negative. They don’t worry about the outcomes; they just show up and do the work.

Proactive people know how to manage commitments with themselves and others appropriately. They have personal integrity in that what they think is in sync with what they say and what they do.

Proactive people are responsible for their own happiness. They know that happiness is a choice they will make today, and not some destination they will arrive at tomorrow.

Proactive people understand that their success does not depend on their circumstances; instead, it depends on their response to those circumstances.

The problem is never “out there”. It’s always within.

We become proactive by believing that we (and only we) are responsible for our own lives. We cannot choose the cards we’re dealt, but we can choose how best to play them. And with the power to choose, lies our capacity for freedom and growth. With that freedom comes great responsibility.

Being proactive is a choice you make today and practice every day for the rest of your life. It’s the only way to navigate the always-changing world with deep personal integrity. Only when you know yourself from within can you engage appropriately with the outside world.

Being proactive starts with self. That means you can only work on yourself because you have control over yourself. You can’t change others. Sure, you can influence them, but that only happens by working on yourself first. You can only influence others when you’re willing to be influenced by them. That’s the only way you can truly change the world. Remember, change starts with you. Lead by example. Actions speak louder than words. What are you waiting for?

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