Proactivity means that, as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. There are three central values in life: the experiential, or that which happens to us; the creative, or that which we bring into existence; and the attitudinal, or our response to difficult circumstances. What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life. Another way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. The things we are concerned about could be described as our “Circle of Concern.” There are things we can really do something about, that can be described as our “Circle of Influence”. When we focus our time and energy in our Circle of Concern, but outside our Circle of Influence, we are not being effective. Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence, causing their Circle of Influence to expand. Reactive people focus their efforts on the circle of Concern, over things they can’t control. Their negative energy causes their Circle of Influence to Shrink.
Before we totally shift our life focus to our Circle of Influence, we need to consider two things in our Circle of Concern- Consequences and mistakes. Sometimes we make mistakes from our negative consequences, called mistakes. We can’t recall or undo our past mistakes. The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. “Success is the far side of failure”, said I B M founder T. J. Watson. At the heart of our Circle of Influence is our ability to make and keep commitments and promises. Our integrity in keeping commitments and the ability to make commitments are the clearest manifestations of proactivity.