Personal Development


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Chapter XIV – Living a Proactive Life

I am Jude. Proactivity, or the act of living a proactive life, is one of the most important concepts I have encountered on my recent personal development journey. I believe it is one of the keys to experiencing joy and fulfillment in our lives.

I was first introduced to the modes of proactive and reactive living by Steven Covey in his epic work, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. In fact, Covey considers proactivity as the foundation of the other six(6) guiding principles. 

Incidentally, it is truly one of the best self-help books that I have ever read. Period. I highly recommend it.


Reactivity involves accepting life as it comes. There is no planning, consideration or proactive effort. Oftentimes, individuals living reactive lives see themselves as victims or actors in a movie without the ability to have any meaningful impact on their lives. 

In their minds, life happens to them and not through them. 

Reactive thinking maintains that people have little or no control over their lives. These individuals allow external circumstances and other people to influence their emotions and decision-making, and effectively dictate the direction of their lives. 

There is a general sense of inevitability and fatalism. They resign themselves to unappealing futures and accept predetermined fates. It’s a pretty demoralizing and self-defeating perspective.

Some examples of reactive language:

I’ll try…. I have to….

He ruined my day…. That’s just the way I am….

She made me…. If I…. and If only….

They pissed me off…. There was nothing I could do….

It is what it is…. I can’t….

Do any of these sound familiar?

Proactivity, on the other hand, can be defined as acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes. It consists of forecasting potential obstacles and planning accordingly.

Rather than reacting to external factors, it mandates planning, self-awareness and deliberate action. It means being pre-emptive with problem solving as opposed to simply reacting to external factors.

Of course, there is no such thing as a purely proactive or a reactive person. We are all both proactive and reactive beings. However, one of our primary objectives should be the adoption of proactive thinking, as this invariably leads to deliberate actions and a more intentional life.

Being Proactive means taking full responsibility for your life. It’s thinking and living with purpose and exercising YOUR will upon the world. 

We can’t control everything in our lives, and nor should we want to. However, we can control our thoughts, perspective and subsequent actions. It’s one of the things that makes us uniquely human. 

Living proactivity creates choices, and choices lead to increased opportunities to live out our dreams and desires. It allows us to exercise our personal power and create our individual realities. A proactive person gets things done! 

Our ability to craft a life in alignment with our values and higher purpose provides us with the greatest personal growth and fulfillment. It’s this sense of individual agency that is our superpower and each and every one of us has it!

So whenever possible, live proactively.  Organize, construct and define life on your terms. Use your superpower for self-actualization and create the life that you desire and deserve. 

Conversely, consider the alternative of living without purpose. It’s like being a supporting character in your own life story. And who wants that? The universe is waiting for you to assume the leading role in your life. BE THE STAR and create your destiny. 

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Pareto’s Principle – 80/20 Rule

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was an Italian philosopher and economist who discovered that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes.

This widely accepted ‘universal law’ has important implications in all respective life areas. 

In business, for example, 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits. In our personal lives, we spend 80% of our time with 20% of our closest friends and family members or 80% of the time on our phones using 20% of the apps. Consider it in your life. 

Applying Pareto’s principle in goal-setting and making life changes provides focus, critical analysis and prioritizes the actions that will generate the greatest results.

What could you accomplish if you began spending 80% of your productive efforts and energy on the 20% of tasks that would make the biggest difference in reaching your goals? 

How successful would you be if you were consistently focused on 2-3 critical factors or actions in your career development or in your personal life?

I would expect some BIG THINGS regardless of your circumstances.

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Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting

I am becoming more familiar with the various theories and perspectives associated with life coaching. I also continue to connect with other coaches, counsellors and therapists dedicated to helping people Be Better. 

I have spoken directly to professional life coaches and have participated in virtual life coaching sessions. I can tell you that there is a real benefit in collaborating with someone who is completely invested in your success.

Coaching sessions are designed to help you clarify your goals, identify obstacles that are holding you back and develop strategies that lead to greater satisfaction and fulfillment. 

They are outcome-oriented and provide clients with support, encouragement and a high level of accountability. All necessary factors in scripting an effective action plan to Be Better. 

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Positive Reflections – What’s good?

In one word, FELLOWSHIP

In spite of Covid, or maybe because of it, proactive Black men are creating new ways to connect and provide support to one another. Over the past six months, I have had the privilege of being part of a number of meaningful discussions, interactions and efforts organized by Black men. 

And I can tell you this, there is something uniquely powerful and rewarding about collaborating with other Black men who are also invested in their personal development and the stewardship of their community.

And despite what you may have heard, there are a growing number of Black men who are committed to challenging the negative thinking, poor decision-making and self-sabotage that has characterized and restricted their growth in the past. They understand the assignment.

Brothers are navigating the complex realities of what it means to be a Black man in 2022. They want more for themselves, their families and their respective communities. They are challenging outdated stereotypes and externally imposed limitations.

They are finding ways to Break Free and Be Better.

CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq and former CNN writer Todd Leopold contributed to this report

We continue to lose some of the most influential Black personalities, entertainers and political figures in recent memory. Sidney Poitier was Afrikan royalty. This regal actor was a pioneer in film and civil rights activist. 

He portrayed principled characters and his acting credits include some of the most critically acclaimed movies in history. Ground-breaking movies such as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. True American classics. 

I will forever remember his grace and noble bearing. 

In 2009, President Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying, “It’s been said that Sidney Poitier does not make movies, he makes milestones … milestones of artistic excellence, milestones of America’s progress.”

He did that and so much more. Rest in Power.

Public Announcement  

There are always valuable lessons to be learned through adversity.

Believe it or not, with the right perspective, we can always take something positive from bad situations. Regardless of whether they are our darkest moments or deepest disappointments.

In fact, our setbacks provide unique opportunities for new ideas, options and innovation. They allow for reflection and an honest assessment of the current realities. And it sets the stage for meaningful change through strategic thinking and proactive planning. 

How can we, in our personal lives and in our community, refocus our attention from the negative to the positive? From what happened, to what can we do moving forward? From whose fault it was, to how can we ensure it doesn’t happen again? 

I choose to embrace proactivity and a positive mindset. I am convinced that if we are intentional with our efforts and energy, tomorrow will be better than today. And I believe in the strength and resilience of my community.

I encourage you to do the same. I am Jude.

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