We can be very active in whatever we do.  In fact, most of us are.  However, when we are pro-active, our energies are directed in a very positive direction, we are more clear as to what we can do, or should do.  We are clear about our goals, and when we achieve what are normally called the "low-hanging" fruits, we are very much happy.  This leads us to more success.

What do we mean by being "pro-active?".  It simply means that we need to take preventive action for whatever we do.  It really means  asking one simple question, "having come thus far, what can I do now?".  Doing's one's best, that is, the ideal, under a given set of circumstances, is pro-active action.

For instance, if an entrepreneur is into small-scale manufacturing of a local detergent, which does not have a big brand, he or she needs to very clear that he she can at best market the product only in the local areas, and that the market would rather be limited.  Hence, the marketing costs have to be very little. and he or she should take pro-active action to ensure that it is always so.  For example, this would mean marketing through the bicycles, in a radius of up to twenty kilometers.  Depending on the usefulness of the product to serve a local population that is very price-conscious, the product will succeed, and hence the product can be sold directly to the small retailers who will in turn sell it to end customers through word of mouth.

In fact, this is the exact business model that most small manufacturers follow, as there is still a big demand for such products.  

Let us take another situation, where the parents need to be pro-active.  It is a well-known fact that career planning, more so, if any child wants to crack the entrance examination of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), has to start right from the eighth standard.  Hence the parents would have to find out all ways and means to explore the kind of supportive environments that can be given to the child to prepare for the highly competitive examination.  The child should sink into the details of the examination as it obtains today, and then start exploring the means to acquire the appropriate skills, when he or she is still very young.  

This author knows of several parents who even shift their children to good schools in cities like Hyderabad and Chennai, and give them the extra private coaching right from the eighth standard.  Once this happens, the child gets ready for a competitive future, where he or she is always ready to explore ways to maximize his or her potential. 

Being Reactive does not help

Far from being pro-active, most of us are reactive.  We react to any crisis, only after there is some calamity.  For instance, we do not care to insure our lives.  When a sudden death happens to a near relative, we wake up from our deep slumber and rush to the nearest insurance agent, as if there is no tomorrow. We need to be very pro-active at all times, and not react to every situation.

In matters of health, it is very important to be pro-active.  For instance, many do not quit smoking or drinking, the two root causes of cancer and heart attack.  They tend to think that nothing can happen to them, even all medical evidence is there to prove that these two deadly bad habits can indeed land them in such trouble.

Those who are advised to reduce their diabetic levels, do not do so.  They do not even do any exercise.  When things go out of hand, they start all over and try to get back to life, which is almost next to impossible.

So, being reactive simply means that we react to any crisis.  This is not adequate at all, given life's glorious uncertainties and the growing tensions of high inflation, particularly food inflation.

Being Passive is equally bad

There are many who are just passive.  Talk to them about their actions, and pat would come the reply: "it is all my fate.  I really do not know what to do".  This is the extreme form of total inertia, of inaction.  This can destroy any human being at any point in time.  If he or she falls into this trap, it is next to impossible for the person to break through this vicious cycle.  

Fate is nothing but what we make out of our lives.  Every single effort, every piece of hard work, never goes unrewarded.  If he or she thinks that this effort is itself not needed, then the very purpose of life is totally lost.  

This is one lesson that we all need to learn -- the lives of great men or women, who have succeeded have always been very busy.  They would have spent very long hours at work, they would have worked literally all seven days of the week, and would have done all that is needed to succeed.  

The pro-activity in their lives would have yielded them excellent results.

Developing Pro-activity as a Habit

A huge amount of learning as to how to make our lives pro-active, and develop that as a habit, is available from success stories of Corporate India. There are many unconventional examples as well.

One of such unconventional example, which is not very well known to many, is that of a private sector bank called the Karur Vysya Bank (KVB).

This bank is headquartered in a small district headquarter town called Karur, which is around seventy five kilometers from the nearest big city called Tiruchirapalli, in Tamil Nadu.

Some ten years ago, this bank had to change its positioning from a small South Indian bank to a pan-India one.  It needed a big image change.

Change, it did, and in a rather big way.  A very enterprising Chairman, who had come from outside, from a Nationalized Bank, made the Board agree to pro-active change. The Bank  invested very heavily in information technology.  The bank managers were very pro-active in developing very good relationship with the local community, particularly in the new branches.

At around the same time, the Chairman brought in very young and fresh blood.  The sea change in outlook of this young team, made the bank zoom to the greatest heights.  It is still a takeover target, but this is unlikely, given the huge identify the staff have towards the bank, and a big chunk of the shares are held by the employees.

Today, its competitors are the big banks like the Axis Bank or the HDFC Bank.  Wherever these banks are present, KVB takes on the mantle of giving the two banks a run for their money, mostly with their superior quality of service.  Its non-performing asset position is still very small.

Pro-activity is true to big companies, and to individuals too.  There can be no excuse for any person, to become pro-active.  Learning how to be pro-active is a skill that needs to be developed at all times.   


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