I’ve been writing this and my other blogs for a while, but that doesn’t make me immune from making stupid mistakes.
In this case, my mistake got me unfriended and blocked on Facebook. It got me no perceptible forward movement on anything I truly think is important in life. It got me wrapped up in turmoil. It got me writing long blog posts with little response.
It was a waste of time and energy.
As with any negative thing that happens in life, it’s always vital to ask: what’s the lesson? What was I meant to learn? There’s always a lesson. In this case of getting unfriended and blocked, it took me a while to discover. When I did it was profoundly powerful.
The realization was that I had gotten into a mode of reactive, knee-jerk thinking rather than proactive thinking. It was reflecting in my posts on Facebook and on my blog. They were reactive posts. They were against stuff I don’t like rather than towards stuff I want or like.
It is never a way to build towards anything good in life. It is a step backward, and that’s why I’d been feeling so poorly. It’s why I felt stuck. (Which doesn’t happen often these days, fortunately!)
One of the most negative modes of habit that any of us can get into is reactive mode. That’s a mode where we are emotionally reacting against stuff we don’t like, rather than working towards stuff we like.
What is reactivity?
Reactive is defined as showing a response to a stimulus. It is the process of observing or seeing something in the outside world, then having a knee-jerk response about that thing (which might, for example, including writing a blog post about something one doesn’t like – no, I’ve never done that… wink, wink).
The opposite of that state is proactivity. Proactivity is acting from an internal motivation to do something positive, good, and forward moving.
The past few blog posts that I wrote were all written from the reactive standpoint. They were responses to things that I didn’t like or agree with that I’d seen in my outer environment.
This blog post is the (re)starting of a new direction – something that comes from that inner drive to move forward, and to help others in doing the same. It’s not that all my blogs in the past have been reactive. They haven’t been. It’s been an unconsciously planned mix of both proactive and reactive writing. A random mix is not good enough. Not to create massive success, that is.
That’s how most of us operate in our daily lives. We have this blend of reacting much of the time, with the occasionally inspired proactive thing that we do.
But that’s not enough. If you’re going to do anything great in this world, you can only do it proactively. Whether your greatness lies in inventing, discovering, writing, building great wealth, or whatever…. it can’t be done in reactive mode. It can only be done proactively.
This is one of the biggest shifts that I’ve made over the past 4 years. I’ve gone from someone who reacts nearly all the time, with only occasional proactivity, to someone who is proactive much of the time, with occasional reactivity. So for me, this “month of reactivity” that I fell into last month was a good reminder of where that leads: on a road to nowhere.
Emotion is bad… no… good… no… which is it?!…. (aaaahhhhhhhhhh)
There’s a lot of confusion about emotion and feeling, and it’s role in a productive life. Some would have you turn all your emotion and feeling off, and to become a mindless robot just going through the motions. These are the people who believe that all emotion and feeling is bad and leads to sin, temptation, and downfall.
Others (like me sometimes) claim that you “have to listen to your feelings” to move quickly and intuitively towards what you want out of life. Are you confused by that?
Most people are. Let me attempt to de-confusify things:
- If an emotion (or feeling) comes from reactivity towards something you’ve seen or experienced – especially if that thing is negative – in all likelihood it isn’t going to help you one little bit to act upon it. You will find yourself just making the situation worse – as I experienced with my reactive blogging. For example, let’s say you see a mouth-watering piece of chocolate cake on the counter, and it tempts you to “eat me now!” Let’s say you’re reactive, so you do exactly that. Where does that get you? Heavier and less healthy.
- If a feeling (or emotion) comes from an internally generated desire for something positive, such as “hey, I want to share this great idea with people” or “what if I call up Fred to tell him about this idea I had” or whatever – then in all likelihood you will help yourself move much more quickly towards what you want. In contrast to our chocolate cake example, let’s say you want to get fit. So you proactively feel like going for a run. Where does that get you? Feeling even better, building muscle, and getting more fit. It’s the opposite of the reactive chocolate cake eating.
We get out of life what we focus on (and therefore act upon). If you are focused on these proactive feelings and emotions, you are acting upon something very different than if focused on the reactive stuff.
If you are acting reactively, you are by definition acting behind the curve. If your action is proactive, you are ahead of the curve.
Leaders, innovators, and successful people are always acting ahead of the curve, which means they think and take action proactively.
Commit to being proactive, and get success in return
If you want to be a great success in whatever you do, make this one commitment: to become proactive at all times.
Is it easy? No. You will be tested and challenged on a regular basis to get sucked back in.
Is it worth it? Yes. The world will open up to you in proportion to how much you act and think proactively, rather than reactively.