Being proactive is not just thinking positively. It’s not something we can preach and just not follow through. In my urgent care business, our motto is: You’re either all in, or you’re in the way.
That means we want every single person to own what they do and to be the best at it. This idea has to permeate our language. It’s not ignoring the competitive environment or the day to day challenges, but choosing how to respond to them. It’s in the language we use.
You can either be reactive or proactive in life.
Common reactive thoughts: “That’s just the way I am.” “He makes me so mad!” “I have to.”
Instead, try these proactive thoughts: “I choose to be this way.” “I control my feelings.” “I get to do this,” or “I choose to do this.”
Being proactive means taking responsibility. A better way might be to write that is: Response-Ability. It’s the ability to respond to whatever life or business gives us. Being reactive is the opposite. It means we’re controlled by external forces around us and that we have no say in what happens to us. We’re not responsible for our success or failure. This is the trend in our society today. Having thoughts like, “Whose fault is this? It must not be mine.” This belief is debilitating to your business’s culture. It’s the culture of blame and backstabbing and gossip. This must be eliminated.
In the book Turn This Ship Around, L. David Marquet uses the approach of having team members using the phrase, “I intend to,” and then stating what it is they intend to do to their supervisor. I love this concept. It puts the thinking and problem solving and decision-making back on the person who’s responsible for that decision and allows them to own it and to grow as leaders themselves. I often say the best way to create leaders is to know what to do but then not do it, allowing the new growing leaders to make their own decisions.
This kind of thinking is new to most organizations. This requires emotional intelligence both on the part of the leader and owner as well as on the part of the team members. You cannot have proactive decision making with someone who has a dependent personality. However, you can create the environment where those who are willing can be a part of the new paradigm of leader. This takes work as it’s not easy, but there may be no more important thing you can do to take your company to the next level than to create an environment of proactive, initiative taking, team members who truly OWN their jobs.
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