Proactive, Let’s find it! Read on…
A businessman entered a restaurant and ordered a dish called Kashmiri Pulao which has black grapes as one of the ingredients. Upon seeing the dish on a nice plate, he noticed a beetle in the dish.
“What is this?” he shouted at the waiter. The waiter immediately replied with confidence, “Sir, we add black grapes with this dish as one of the ingredients; looks like you don’t like black grapes!” saying these words, he quickly picked the beetle and swallowed it. The businessman went
straight to the owner of the hotel, not to complain about the waiter but to request if he could hire that waiter for his company.
Was the waiter, right? He was right in one way and wrong in another way.
More than the loyalty and concern for the brand image of the restaurant he was serving, the first thing that should have flashed in his mind would have been the threat to his and his colleagues’ job. He wanted to
save the job and he dared to take a risk. He swallowed the beetle to save himself from that customers’ wrath, which in his case became a reward!
In a way, he was wrong because he was not proactive. In the above restaurant example, the attitude of that customer matched with that of the waiter, in the sense, both were reactive. Will it hold good for all types of customers always? Will it serve the purpose in the present-day environment where the customers are very knowledgeable and the media is very powerful? There are customers who will go to the extent of spending thousands of rupees even for a petty issue. May be, some other customer in the same situation would have taken a photo of the dish with the beetle, before drawing the attention of the waiter and released it to the media which is only too eager to sensationalise such issues. To put it simply, the waiter should have been proactive and should have checked the dish before handing it over to the customer.
In fact, these are the two approaches we apply to find a solution to any situation. In a reactive approach, we resort to an action after the happening of an event. The reactive approach may land us in favourable or unfavourable situation. A lot depends on the situation and the people involved in that.
On the contrary, in a proactive approach, an action is planned and taken before the happening of the event. Today, quality consciousness which is mere inspection of products or services after they are produced or delivered will not suffice; or the quality control of the same will not even work out. We should have quality assurance, where we talk about the highest quality standards like six sigma and so on. In a nut shell the defects or deficiencies of a product or service must be noticed before it reaches the hands of the customer. For that, all employees have to be highly proactive.
Think of these situations. If one accidentally drops the pen from his hand, he remarks that the pen has fallen. The truth is he has dropped the pen! When one enters the good old house in his native village, where generally the door to the entrance of the house is quite low, he gets a hit on his forehead. The immediate reaction is to blame the entrance… A student failing in a subject blames the teacher; a person who is not disciplined in his food habits or schedule of the exercises blames the fate for his lack of health…
In all these examples, there is a play of blaming game, without taking charge of the situations that emerges. Blame game is a part of reactivity and owning up is a part of proactivity. Owning up the responsibility or response with ability is the most important dimension of proactivity. To be proactive is one of the fundamental steps in the transformation of one’s own life.
Let us consider the fundamental differences between reactivity and proactivity:
A reactive person thinks that life is happening to him and he is just an observer without taking any/or proper actions but simply blames the external circumstances. A proactive person takes responsibility for his life including his actions and emotions.
A reactive person starts worrying about the things he can’t change and he bothers about failure. A proactive person focuses his time and efforts on what can be influenced and prioritizes his time and actions.
In a reactive approach, we resort to an action after the happening of an event. The reactive approach may land us in favourable or unfavourable situation. A lot depends on the situation and the people involved in that. On the contrary, in a proactive approach, an action is planned and taken before the happening of the event.
In all, a proactive person acknowledges the significance of external factors or circumstances in his life and at the same time explores ways by which the desired change can be brought about for self and the community he lives in.
Being proactive is a skill to be developed which requires a simple shift towards the situation. Be it in maintaining a proper health or wealth, be it the challenges – financial, technical or human resources – faced by an organization, be it the care for the future of his wards, be it the economy of the state or the country – this proactive approach alone can bring the desired outcome.
This paradigm shift from being reactive to proactive requires paying close attention to the language used, while talking to self and others. The language used by a reactive person involves evading from the responsibility or giving excuses for not pursuing the task. At the same time the proactive person’s language is towards finishing the assigned task taking complete responsibility over that.
To be proactive is all about paying attention, focusing on the time between the happening of an external event and the internal response. A reactive person acts on the spur of the moment, whereas the proactive person very quickly reflects, thinks on his feet and makes a conscious response so that the effect he needs is fulfilled. A proactive person is not ego involved or emotional; he is so focused on the goal to be achieved that he subordinates his likes and dislikes to the purpose of his life. That is ultimate proactivity.
Madhan Mohan Malavia , the founder of Banares Hindu University approached the Nizam of Hyderabad for donation. The Nizam got wild and he threw one of his chappals on him. Without feeling a tinge of humiliation, Malavia took that single chappal and walked out. He went to the busiest street in the city and drew the attention of the public, and tried to put Nizam’s slipper for auction. When that news reached the Nizam he ordered his people to take that chappal from auction, whatever be the bidding price. It brought a huge amount for Malavia. That was a lesson from history that proactive people are productive in whatever tasks they undertake.
Proactivity is the key to productivity.