How to Be a Proactive Agent of Change and Make the World a Better Place
Traffic school advocates being defensive rather than offensive. Your nutritionist advises moderation versus excess. The workplace compels you to become disciplined rather than procrastinate. Whether we agree or disagree, the decision to change our behavior is ours — and ours alone. We decide whether we want to adjust our patterns of behavior or maintain our current course of action.
Using the examples above, we can choose to become safer drivers, more healthy individuals, and more successful workplace employees. These are all worthwhile endeavors. But there’s also another benefit: we’ve created a positive change in the world in which we live.
Of course each individual will have a different definition of what constitutes positive change. However, any move in a beneficial direction will involve the conscious and consistent application of one word, and that word (which doesn’t exist in many dictionaries) is proactivity.
Evidence of Need to do Something
The evidence in our society for the need to be more proactive and do something to solve our problems is overwhelming. It’s all around us each and every day. However, sometimes it’s helpful to quantify this need and “put it out on the table.” Consider the following statistics from various United States government sources:
- Most children are being raised in single parent households or where both parents work leaving very limited time for quality parent/child relationships in role modeling and life skills training.1
- The US Department of Labor in its Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) report says that personal qualities (attributes that most workers had historically) no longer can be taken for granted. They are so important that their absence will quickly disqualify any job seeker at any level of accomplishment. At the present time, most schools do not teach these qualities.2
- One of every 20 US residents born today will spend time in the criminal justice system. In fact, by the year 2011, there will be 23% more teenagers in the violence-prone age group, which is enough to destabilize the social and political order in America.3
Proactive versus Reactive
Presented with these disturbing facts, you may be asking, “Is it too late to be proactive?” We all know it’s easier to maintain a relatively healthy relationship than it is to fix one after it has deteriorated. Does that mean that we are helpless to deal with the current state of affairs? The answer is a resounding NO! Fortunately, the same tools that we use proactively to avoid future problems can be used reactively to repair damaged relationships.
Tools of the Trade: Practice Makes Perfect
As overwhelming as the evidence may seem, the tools for turning around these trends are readily available.
- The first tool to pull out of the box is an understanding that each of us is different (and has a different blend of personality characteristics) and that there is inherent value in those differences.
- Follow that with several tools for communicating within and among each of the Blue, Gold, Green, and Orange personality types.
- Add in the learning styles tool for educating each individual (child or adult) based on their needs and preferences rather than the needs and preferences of the teacher.
- Finally, add the finishing touches on the esteem that has been steadily built and help each person feel the joy in achieving that which they value.
Doesn’t that sound too simple to solve the type of problems mentioned earlier? But problems like failed relationships that break apart families, the failure of employees to learn the skills required to succeed in the marketplace, and the increase in the number of people choosing to take shortcuts and break laws — all of these symptoms have the same root cause: the failure of people to communicate, interact, and learn in ways that reflect their needs and preferences.
As with many things, the theory is simple. On the other hand, the application of the theory takes effort and practice. So start off small. Begin with a single individual or small group of individuals close to you. Put into practice what you know about building and maintaining relationships with others. Share information with them because building a firm foundation is much easier when every worker has the necessary tools!