Several years ago, when I was introduced to the self-help reading, I was instantly impressed with the term – ‘Initiative’. It was from the famous book of Napoleon Hill – ‘The Law of Success’. I liked this because, I instantly realized that some things in my life were, always, within my reach… I could, always, do them, without waiting for anyone else's permission or support or even validation. Moreover, doing them, involved no costs… only benefits. Napoleon Hill himself had paid tributes to the great Ralf Waldo Emerson for inspiring him on the subject of ‘Initiative’. I loved the term, and began to implement it in my day-to-day dealings.
I began to go ‘the extra-mile’… to do work more than paid for. And, it did pay me with ‘compound interest’.
I began to do work not for money alone. And, it did bring me along the ‘other rewards’ – respect, goodwill, trust, friends and well-wishers and, above all, an unshakable faith in myself and a hope about tomorrow.
I began to do things without being told. And, it did make me feel incredibly good about myself. My self-esteem went high with this act of mine… and, it helped me to be a ‘leader’ in my areas of operation.
Many years later, this very term – ‘Initiative’ – came back to me christened with a new name – ‘Be Proactive’. This time around, it was Stephen Covey in his famous book - ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.
Last evening, when I happened to coin this phrase before a young man, he asked me innocently this: “Sir, can you please give me some examples in which I can be a Proactive person?”
I told him this:
“Being proactive, basically, means being in charge of yourself… taking responsibility for your own affairs. You do not blame others or the situations for things that go wrong in your life. Your life is your business… and, therefore, you are solely responsible for its quality - success or failure.”
“When you set a constructive goal for your life and commit to work towards it, it means, you are proactive.”
“When you learn to set your priorities right in your life – use your limited time and resources well in order to achieve your goals, it means you are proactive.”
“When you seek help from others whenever you need it, it means you are proactive.”
“When you thank enough,
it means you are proactive.”
“When you let others know your needs, your feelings, it means you are proactive.”
“When you quickly apologize when you hurt someone, and when you decide not to hold on to old grudges, it means you are proactive.”
“When you decide to share your knowledge, empower people around you, help them with your time, money and other resources, it means you are proactive.”
“When you do not stop learning and keep enhancing your knowledge and skills, it means you are proactive.”
“When you do not allow yourself indulge in cheap gossip, decrying of others – particularly in public or at their back – it means you are proactive.”
I told the young man that all these things he could do right from where he stood, and right away. Yes, none of these required any one’s approval or support, and they could be carried out free of cost. Still, the pay-off was immense. I told him, the early one realized this truth, the longer he was able to enjoy its fruits.
It did not cost the young man any money or energy to seek my help, last evening. It did not cost me any money or energy to guide him either. Being proactive has never cost anyone any money.
There is, yes, always, a cost for not being proactive.