The answer is not as proactive as we think – which is a relief otherwise I’d have nothing to write about this week.
I think we are designed to go with the flow. It takes massive action to break out of this, but break out of it we must. But only the few will make it. You may be one of them.
It’s so easy to switch off. To let the autopilot define the destination. To let the alarm clock wake us up; to eat the same breakfast; to react the same way to the same stimuli – boss, partner, issues, problems, opportunities; to think the same thoughts. To be catalysed into action by external events – the email, the phone, work colleagues. To fail to take charge.
I really challenged myself on this last week. I secretly wondered if I was just getting up and doing the same things not because they were the right things but because they were the things I do.
So, being a big fan of tests with easy questions (and difficult answers) I made up a test for myself. I have called it Mark’s Proactivity Tester. Pretty snappy I think you’ll agree.
Now, I understand that some of the questions may not be relevant to you. For example, if your job is to pick up the phone before it rings three times you may struggle with question no 2. So if your job makes you do crazy things, don’t pay too much attention to the questions that show that fact up!
So here it is…
Ask yourself these questions…
1. When I get an email, I…
a) Read it,
b) Don’t read it,
c) Don’t know I’ve received an email.
2. When the phone rings, I…
a) Answer it,
b) Don’t answer it,
c) Don’t know I’ve received a phone call.
3. When someone says “do you have a minute”, I reply…
a) “Of course, shall we get some tea?”,
b) “If it’s a quicky” (ooh-err Missus),
c) “I’m just working on something right now, can you come back at 2 o’clock?”
4. When I am working on something, I…
a) Constantly interrupt myself to do other things,
b) Repeatedly think about the next thing on my list,
c) Focus on what I’m doing to a very high degree, and I’m not really sure what’s next on my list but that’s OK because I have a system where everything is under control.
5. I feel as if I am in charge of my destiny (the key word is destiny – this is not about being in charge of every minute of every day – no one has that luxury)…
a) Pretty much never,
c) Pretty much always.
6. My goals are…
a) Given to me,
b) Negotiated by me,
c) Defined by me.
7. The purpose of my life is…
a) You’re not catching me out with that mumbo jumbo…purpose! Ha!
b) A work in progress,
c) Clear to me.
8. I have a written list of high-payoff activities…
a) You’re joking; I don’t even have goals,
b) In my head, honest, trust me,
c) In my diary.
9. The stuff in my diary this week makes me feel…
b) OK – just another week,
c) Like it’s another step in the right direction.
OK there’s no scoring system here but if you’ve had sufficient coffee today you will have realised that answering c) is better than b) is better than a). So take a view.
We are all somewhere on the reactivity/proactivity line. For me the target is total proactivity. This won’t happen but it’s a target worth striving for. Because total proactivity equals total freedom and I like the sound of that. So I’m going to keep asking myself these nine questions…just to be on the safe side.