i began to travel abroad in the late 80s. back then, and all through the 90s, whenever i visited a city with an extensive subway system -such as nyc or london- i was always shocked by the graffiti (not to be confused, imho, with street art) on their cars. lots of them, in many cases making the metal underneath impossible to distinguish.
i never really understood the point. i never really understood why people would face a steep fine or risk getting maimed or worse in an accident just to smear a subway car. so i was happy when those began to go away and subway cars began to glisten in all their original metal bodies -something that in london began to happen in preparation for the 2012 olympic games, as a result of more intense cctv surveillance and hi-tech security being used to guard the trains.
and yet i consider myself lucky to have seen a graffito (yes, graffiti is plural and graffito is the singular form, which we hardly ever use) before they went away that i will never forget -almost like a fleeting vision that lasted just the time a subway train takes to fly away: ‘an idea that is only an idea is not a good idea’, it said. a call to arms like none i had seen before. a motto that i would make my own for years to come.
taking action by causing change and not only reacting to change when it happens
therefore, proactive behavior involves acting in advance of a future situation, rather than just reacting. it means taking control and making things happen rather than just adjusting to a situation or waiting for something to happen. [in a professional setting] proactive employees generally do not need to be asked to act, nor do they need detailed instructions.
of course, that requires the right attitude. to want to do more. to want to be more. to go the extra mile without expecting anything in return. something that i don’t see too often, maybe due to cultural mores, maybe due to a (lack of) professional culture that disincentivizes initiative and risk-taking, favoring groupthink and conformity. or maybe i am being too rash, and people are not more proactive simply because it’s not easy.
need help to be more proactive? here are some tips:
take responsibility for your own actions
accept that mistakes are inevitable
seek out proactive people
don't sweat about things you can't control
don't sit on the sidelines
don't give in to the negative gremlins
celebrate your successes
but, above all, be ready to talk less and do more. by all means, think long and hard before jumping into the pool (especially, make sure that there is water and that you know how to swim), but do it when you are ready. after all, the only people who fail are those who do not try. not a good idea.