Act or be Acted Upon
It takes initiative to create the P/PC Balance of effectiveness in your life.
Part one: What’s happening to us is not good, and the trends suggest that it will get worse before it gets better
Part two: But what we are causing to happen is very good, for we are better managing and reducing our costs and increasing our market share
Part three: Therefore, business is better than ever
Now, what would a reactive mind say to that? “Oh, come on. Face facts. You can only carry this positive thinking and self-psych approach so far. Sooner or later you have to face reality.”
But that’s the difference between positive thinking and proactivity. We did face reality. We faced the reality of the current circumstance and of future projections. But we also faced the reality that we had the power to choose a positive response to those circumstances and projections. Not facing reality would have been to accept the idea that what’s happening in our environment had to determine us.
Businesses, community groups, organizations of every kind — including families — can be proactive. They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of proactive individuals to create a proactive culture within the organization. The organization does not have to be at the mercy of the environment; it can take the initiative to accomplish the shared values and purposes of the individuals involved.
Listening to our Language
Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our paradigms, if we use our self-awareness to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people.
The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility.
“That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.
“He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something outside of my control.
“I can’t do that. I just don’t have the time.” Something outside me — limited time — is controlling me.
“If only my wife were more patient.” Someone else’s behavior is limiting my effectiveness.
“I have to do it.” Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I’m not free to choose my own actions.
Reactive Language: There’s nothing I can do. That’s just the way I am. He makes me so mad.
They won’t allow that. I have to do that. I can’t. I must. If only.
Proactive Language: Let’s look at our alternatives. I can choose a different approach. I control my own feelings.
I can create an effective presentation.
I will choose an appropriate response.
That language comes from a basic paradigm of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I am not responsible, not able to choose my response.
A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People become reinforced in the paradigm that they are determined, and they produce evidence to support the belief. They feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in charge of their life or their destiny. They blame outside forces — other people, circumstances, even the stars — for their own situation.
In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.
Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Proactive people subordinate feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.
Circle of Concern. Circle of Influence.
Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns — our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a “Circle of Concern.