As an educator, I often tell students to “be proactive”! If you have questions, go talk with your professor, ask questions in class, discuss with other students! If you are interested in something, tell others about it, seek to incorporate that into your assignments or your work. Meet new people! Ask why? Work to understand why things are occurring! Challenge the “because” responses! Engage people who think differently than you! Always learn!
Personally, I aim to be proactive. I want to understand how and why things are. I want to push to see if there’s a better way. I do believe this is the way to live life.
However, I reflect and perhaps question my advice and stance on this topic! Is it a good thing to be proactive? Is proactivenss valued? This reflection really came to me like a slap in the face one day. A student stayed after one of my classes asking questions to better understand some questions I posed to the group during class. At first, I have to admit shamefully, I was annoyed. I needed to get going; couldn’t this student review and think on his own?! In my mind, I was taken aback by my response. Isn’t this what I tell students to do? This student was being proactive – exactly what I want in students, people in general and in myself.
Personally, I have felt the same response that I’m sure my student felt that day. I believe more commonly than not, people do not appreciate proactive people. Some might say proactive people are selfish, demanding, annoying, bossy among other things. Now it is true that you can be proactive in rude and insensitive ways. I am not including those actions in the realm of this discussion, although they do occur commonly.
So, if we take away the “inappropriate” actions, why is there so much resistance to those who are proactive? Is that we are jealous? Maybe we would like to be more that way, but for some reason we’re scared? Are we annoyed because “we would NEVER do that?” We would never approach someone for something like this! Is it that maybe we are really the selfish ones? That we don’t want to see the benefit to the proactive person as well as ourselves? We don’t care what that person does or needs? Maybe it’s all of the above at different times for each of us.
THE CHALLENGE: Regardless of the reactions of others, keep pushing. Be proactive! Others may not understand, but that’s OK. We need to do it for ourselves! Be cognizant that your actions are not intrusive or insensitive, other than that – GET AFTER IT!