Being Proactive

Being Proactive

As humans we are 100% responsible for how we show up in the world day in and day out. Many of us however don’t even think about the impact that we are having on others, our departments and all of our relationships. We are just going through the motions of day to day living often reacting to our circumstances. It is time to become more proactive, more intentional, and more anticipatory in how we show up for life.

Reflect on yourself for a moment. Do you find yourself more proactive or reactive in life and the circumstances that you find yourself in? If you said reactive, I challenge you to adopt a proactive mindset and then just witness your life changing in miraculous ways.

If you are like me, I often regret what I have said or done when I respond to life or circumstances from a reactive place. As most of you know, reactivity often comes from the reptile brain, the survivor part of the brain. While in reaction mode, there is little to no oxygenated blood flow going to the thinking center of the brain. Hence why one often regrets what is said or done in the moments of reactivity. From the reptilian center, we will be in flight, fight or freeze mode.

It is important to interrupt the reactivity pattern when you feel triggered. Be intentional about taking a few deep breaths before responding to anything. Ask yourself how do I want to show up right now? What do I need to do to be more proactive in this moment? Breathe some more to get your breath up to the thinking center, so the answers will come.

Adopting a proactive approach requires a shift in mindset. We must continuously be 100% responsible for how we are showing up in life circumstances. We need to engage in anticipatory thinking and reflection which leads us to a deeper self-awareness which enhances our overall emotional intelligence.

In healthcare we engage the left side of the brain more than the right. As you recall, the left side of the brain is logical and analytical. The right side brings creativity and imagination to the scene of life circumstances. We need both sides of the brain to be in action to have the best chance at becoming more proactive.

We need to challenge ourselves and the teams we work on or with to become more proactive overall. There is a level of accountability that needs to be integrated into our lives and our teams. Remember you teach people how to treat you. It is time to have a voice and speak up to the people who are the complainers and naysayers on your team. Here are some questions to pose when someone in your life is being reactive instead of proactive:

  • How are you contributing to this issue?
  • How are you being helpful right now?
  • Are you a part of the problem or are you going to be a part of the solution?
  • What could you proactively do right now to improve the situation?
  • What impact does your current response have on our team right now?

Asking these type of questions will hopefully increases the level of personal accountability and help someone move through the situation to a more proactive approach.

Shifting from a reactive mindset to a proactive mindset will require an intentional and conscious effort. Awareness of how you are showing up in any given moment will be one of the first steps in the shift.


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Cella Hartline Cella Janisch-Hartline, RN, BSN, PCC Professional Certified Coach, Nursing Leadership Senior Manager for Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative has been involved in various healthcare industry leadership positions for the past 40 years. The majority of her career has been spent working in an acute care critical access facility for nearly 25 years. Throughout her work experience, she has learned most of her leadership skills and techniques through the school of “hard knocks”. Cella’s passion for teaching leadership tips and techniques earned her the 2018 Outstanding Educator Award through the National Rural Health Association. She is well-known for her humorous, engaging and personable facilitation style.
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