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I hear a lot of organizations saying that they are proactive, as if that’s the only positive way of viewing taking action. There are two other ways to view actions, reactive and inactive. On the surface these are usually viewed in a negative light, but, each has it’s place.
If someone is viewed as inactive, the mental picture drawn is one of a lazy slob doing nothing. Unfortunately, because of this negative view, the situations that call for being inactive are kept in the darkness. There are times where being inactive is the appropriate amount of action. In the technology world, changes don’t propagate instantly. Pushing out updates or waiting for an upgrade are perfectly reasonable times for being inactive. Sometimes you have to wait.
The next action level with negative connotations is being reactive. A lot of times being reactive is a side effect of being inactive at times when you should have been proactive. However, there is a limit to how proactive you can be. You can’t plan for every scenario, so for some decisions there will be a reactive component. This doesn’t mean you don’t try to be proactive, this means that as you are proactive, you must be aware of reactive decisions. The ability to be reactive is a skill that is as important as being proactive, because the act of being proactive prepares us for being reactive.
Each form of action has its place, and each is a tool that can help you be productive.