Proactive provides you control. Reactive gives someone else control. If you believe this is incorrect, look at your inbox. Someone else is causing you to read something, decide what it means, and decide what you need to do, if only to reply.
Proactive is empowered. Reactive is disempowered. When you are proactive, you decide and act. When you are reactive, someone else decides and you act. If you’ve ever felt like things are out of control, invariably it is because you are reacting. You don’t feel that same pressure when you are proactive.
Proactive is intentional. Reactive is unintentional. When you are proactive, you are doing things out of intention. When you are reactive, you are responding to another’s intentions. When most of what you do is unintentional, you lose the time you need to do what is most important to you. Unless you are a firefighter, there is no reason to wait for alarm bells to begin your work.
Proactive is an investment in results. Reactive is an expenditure of energy, and maybe results. When you are proactive, you invest your time, energy, and resources in the result you are pursuing. When you are reactive, you are spending time, energy, and resources on someone else’s results.
Proactive prevents problems. Reactive is the response to problems that might have been avoided had you been proactive. Much of what you struggle with when it comes to time and results can be solved by being proactive.
I am not suggesting that you should be on offense 100 percent of the time. If it is true that you can’t—or shouldn’t be—on offense all the time, then it is equally true that you should not be on defense 100 percent either, waiting passively to react to external forces. There is no way to produce results in most areas without the help of other people and without serving another group of people. In fact, some of what you should be doing proactively is for and with other people.
There is a tablet that comes with the planner that I designed (b2b sales tool kit). This small tablet allows you to schedule and design 3 block of 90 minutes each, as a way to be proactive about what is most important to you. Over the course of a workday, that’s 4.5 hours for you, and 3.5 hours for the rest of the world. You get slightly more than half, which has always seemed fair to me.
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