PROACTIVE
  • Foreseeing and intervening in anticipation of future needs or changes
  • Initiating and preparing beforehand rather than reacting afterwards
  • Taking steps ahead of time based on training, knowledge and experience

HARRINGTON COMMENTARY

Being proactive involves acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes. Many problems can be avoided, and more opportunities can be further leveraged, when we act in advance of them. All it takes is using our knowledge and experience and applying it ahead of time. When we are proactive, our customers receive better support, recognize more fully our contributions, and grow to put even more trust in us.

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For a moment, let’s pretend that your new favorite pastime is bicycling. You are jumping on that bike and riding it all over town. Congratulations. It’s great exercise, healthy for your body, and you are enjoying the great outdoors. Wow. I’m sort of jealous of you, even though I know this is imaginary!

Let’s assume that one day, while riding your bike, you hit a pothole, fly off, hit your head, get a concussion, and end up in the hospital emergency room. You don’t have any long-term issues because of the accident, but for a few days you have a BAD headache and generally aren’t feeling very well. After this, you realize that you should have been wearing a helmet as you rode your bike around town. Whoa! I’m not feeling so jealous of you now. I can’t believe you weren’t wearing a helmet in this imaginary situation.

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I don’t quote Ben Franklin often, but here it goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this hypothetical situation, having the foresight to wear a helmet could have helped you avoid some serious physical pain and suffering, as well as some hospital bills. Of course, this is just an imaginary circumstance. (In real life, I’m sure that you wear a helmet.) But we all face circumstance in which we have the knowledge and foresight to prepare ahead of time for situations and, if we act, we can save ourselves and others a lot of time and energy, and usually money, somewhere down the road.

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At Funds For Learning, our clients hire us for many reasons. Of course, they engage us for our knowledge and experience dealing with the E-rate program. That’s a given. But they hire us for more than that. There is an expectation that we will take all of our expertise and training and put it to good use. They presume that we will be planning ahead, looking out over the horizon on their behalf. Or, to put it in terms of my bicycle analogy, our clients expect us to get them their helmet, knee pads, and wrist guards ahead of time before they get on their bike and ride around town.

Here are a few practical steps for being proactive.

  1. Focus on what you can influence (See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by S. Covey)
  2. Make time to use the foresight you have been given
  3. Stop reacting, even if for a moment. Sometimes all of our time and energy can be consumed with reacting. That’s okay, but, whenever possible, squeeze out a little time to be proactive. Even little investments in being proactive today, can lead to big returns later.

Consider your proactivity levels this week. In which areas do you currently feel like you are winning the proactive vs. reactive battle? Are you habitually reacting in certain areas? If so, can you identify (proactively!) what may be contributing to that?

Key words and phrases

Acting in anticipation; Causing something to happen; Taking steps based on experience; Foreseeing; Preparing beforehand; Intervening ahead of time; Initiating instead of reacting; Farsighted planning and action

Opposite terms

Shortsighted; Reactionary; Improvident; Myopic

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