A basic principle for gaining the edge is to take constructive action before a problem surfaces that requires urgent attention. Besides, being pro active rather than reactive is another buzz word in vogue. Being regarded as proactive is more beneficial than carrying the label “reactive.” By definition, a proactive person is a careful planner. In contrast, a reactive person is a fire fighter. One can never eliminate the need for some fire fighting, yet balancing between planning and responding to emergencies is important.
To become more proactive, a person has to develop a keen sense of anticipating problems and opportunities. If you wait too long to respond to an opportunity or to solve a problem, it may be too late to gain the edge. Carla Sanchez, the director of non degree programs at a small college, used proaction to help save her program and her job. The non-degree program at Carla’s college was shrinking rapidly. Carla predicted that if enrollment in her program did not stabilize or improve the program would lose its status as a separate entity.
Rather than wait for the college to collapse her program, Carla surveyed current trends to see what new demands might exist for her program. One day she read an article about the many businesses in her community engaged in overseas trade. Carla saw this as an opportunity to offer foreign-language training for business people. Carla made a pitch to several firms, and her ideas met with immediate acceptance. Her unit of the college offered special classes in Japanese, Spanish, and German for businesspeople. The program has been a continuing success and a joy of accomplishment for Carla.