Merriam Websters Dictionary defines Proactivity as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes”. That is to say: solving a problem before it becomes a problem, or taking action that’s future-based (built on a desired outcome that one imagines for himself / herself then takes action in that direction).
At the Culture Catalyst Program©, we define Proactivity as “Living Life by Design”. A little note from Chemistry to demonstrate the CATALYST IN ACTION – Living Life by Design. We are here making the distinction between three types of “Change-Makers”:
Reactant: Undergoes a change in a given reaction and is consumed in the process
Accelerator: Increases the rate of a reaction, undergoes a change and usually consumed in the process
Catalyst: Increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process
Reactants and accelerators – both speed up the process of change, create an impact and create outcomes for themselves and the others. They also are consumed in the process. Some are known for their stupidity and idiosyncrasies, some are remembered as leaders, managers and amazing people who gave themselves up for a cause. Perhaps, the one thing that makes the Catalyst stand apart is that they are not consumed in the process. They still accelerate results and cause an impact on themselves and the others. How does that happen? Where do they differ from conventional leaders?
They recognize their own role in creating possibilities. This is critical. If this doesn’t happen, it’s pretty much a rehash of the past beliefs and actions that might or might not have a predictable end. Catalysts maintain a process of living out their lives from imagination (future-based) and not restricted to a memory of past processes.
They take action by conscious choice. They are involved in evaluating the pros and cons and make the choice to act, not out of compulsion or extraneous pressures. The fact is that Catalysts realize that to kick start the process, a good plan today is better than that perfect plan tomorrow. It becomes as simple as doing what is in front of them.
They stick to the purpose of the plan, adapt on the move and in doing this, they demonstrate a tenacity from within. Sometimes, sticking to plan is rigid and the situation might need flexibility and adaptation. Sticking to the purpose of the plan allows for that maneuverability. We need some strength to get started, and this act creates more strength and energy to continue, it gains momentum.
Catalysts hope for the rain and are also prepared for the mud that sometimes follows heavy rain. They are guided by a Big Picture that they draw for themselves. Their Big Picture serves as a reference point at all times, especially during times of uncertainty and ambiguity. We use the “Big Picture Personal Canvas©” at our workshop as a tool designed to help participants capture the Big Picture view of their life. Which becomes a source of guidance, strength, and comfort as they go.
A famous example of a future-based action is when Steve Jobs decided to cut close to 70% of Apple’s product lines in 1997, it was 90 days from being insolvent. People around went ballistic, but he was focusing Apple engineers on possibilities not from memory but from imagination that made space for other successful products to happen, turning the company around into a 309 million USD profit the following year. That is ‘Proactivity in Action’, coming from a place where Responsibility has etched purpose into decisive action.
Do you approach “Proactivity” as a Catalyst?
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