You often hear about this contrast between being reactive and being proactive.
And usually it’s presented as it’s good to be proactive, and that’s a better way to exercise decision-making, leadership, is to choose your own actions rather than simply responding to whatever’s coming in.
But it seems like we have to have both.
You can’t just be purely proactive.
You can’t just make decisions out of nothing.
We do have to respond to the situation that we’re in.
But it seems like where it’s useful to think of this is that it’s easy to let the reactive approach take over, and just have that be our main way of being.
Just sitting back and waiting for the next surprise to happen, and then keep being ready to make our adjustments based on whatever’s happening to us.
So you can get into this state of sort of just doing nothing and anticipating getting ready for things to come at you from outside.
It’s like once you get used to it, once you get used to this idea, you start to predict this sort of world where things are just firing at you from all over the place.
In that case, it is the best approach to be purely reactive, and just be- if there’s so much coming at you, you’re just kind of like OK, take a steady stance in the centre, fall back to a defensive position, and be prepared to deal with each of the incidents, each of the surprises, as they come.
That’s a natural defensive position, and it seems to be easy to get into that, and it’s very understandable.
But imagine if you’re in that position for a very long time: it starts to feel like that’s the only way to be.
It starts to feel like OK, my job is to stand back defensively and be prepared to face whatever unpredictable surprise, possible disaster, is coming up next.
And then when nothing happens, when you have a day where there is no significant outside surprise suddenly hitting us, when we have one of those days, then a purely reactive approach, you’re really not doing much, because you’re you’re just standing ready.
It’s like a guard just standing at the gate, and you’re looking for, well, “Where’s the next surprise? Is it coming? Oh, I don’t see any surprises, so OK, I guess I’ll just remain on duty, keep watching for surprises, and that’ll be my day.” Now you can see, when you put it like that, you can see how this is not a complete approach.
Of course we have to respond to new information coming from outside.
When our situation changes, we have to make our own changes as necessary to respond to the situation.
But if that’s all we do, then we’re entirely at the mercy, we’re entirely sitting passively, waiting for things to happen to us.
And how easily can we fall into that? I’ve certainly fallen into that.
And I’ve noticed that my reaction in the last few days has been very reactive like this.
I sort of- I think I’ve been sort of delayed processing all the surprising news that’s going on with the new situation, and I just sort of fell back into this state of reactivity where I was kind of just doing nothing.
And so it was finally last night that I tried to rally my will together, rally my state of mind together, and realize OK, there’s still lots of adjustment to do to this new situation.
I still have to allow myself the time to make that mental shift and be ready to react.
But at the same time, there’s now a level- there’s a level state where OK, I have lots of time and ability to do things now.
Like so many of us have.
There’s so much extra time.
We can fill it with all the fears and concerns and observing the situation and being ready to react, but we also have the ability to fill this time with something that we choose.
And we can now design what we’re doing with that time.
So once that initial wave of reactivity to the surprise is complete, or has peaked, then it seems like now we can be proactive and we can design the lives we want now.
#proactive #reactive #howtodeal