Being Pro-Active

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

You might be one of those people who have stopped moving forward in life because of a circumstance, event, or person whom you blame that holds you back.

Being “pro-active” is the remedy to your lack of progress. It’s habit number one of the late Stephen Covey’s famous books, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”.  Here’s its definition from his best-selling book, “Being Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior.

Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.”  Regina Brett said that if you can blame someone else for your predicament in life, you never have to be responsible for anything that goes wrong.

But the flip side is nothing changes to improve your life.  Albert Ellis would say, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the economy, or the president. You realize that you can control your own destiny.”

Take the life of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis Chapter 37), which is for me the best example of not blaming events in life to throw a pity party for yourself.  Joseph had all the reasons to be miserable and be sorry for himself and stay that way for the rest of his life.  His brothers sold him as a slave in a fit of jealousy for being the favorite of their father Jacob and he was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, falsely accused of sexual assault by the wife of his master who wanted to have immoral relations with him.

In both situations Joseph rose to the occasion of accepting his fate and just went about working hard with tasks assigned to him.  Because of his diligence and integrity, he became both the lead caretaker of the house of his master as well as the head of all inmates.  His good behavior and being pro-active finally paid off when his heavenly reward came in the form of being no less than the second highest official in Egypt by becoming the governor!

If we stop blaming others and circumstances for our misfortunes and just do what is right, God who rewards those who are faithful to Him, will pave the way for our redemption from misfortune and eventually reward us with success.

There are some people who are like that story of a donkey that has been tied up to a tree for so many years that when it was finally untied, it just stayed there.  Some people can get so used to being stuck in life that given the opportunity to improve they would not grab it.  Psychology calls this “learned helplessness”.  A lesson I’ve learned in my psychology class back in college.  It came along with a story of a group of farmers in the Philippines who fought for their rights to own a land that apparently after unsuccessfully fighting for so many years that when the agrarian reform was finally promulgated, they longer have a taste for it.

We should not lose hope with changing our life for the better no matter what happened to us in the past or how old we are in life. Being pro-active means not to let your past or your age dictate your future. You may be a victim of violence, injustice, cheating, or wrong upbringing or you feel it is too late to change but you can rise above all that when you use that most powerful force human beings possess:  willpower or the power to make choices.

Leo Tolstoy said, “If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life.”  You might have been brought up in the wrong way by a dysfunctional family or by a bad past but God will always give us the chance to overcome those past and still live a happy and successful life.

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