Crafting Proactive Efforts Into Your Job

Hierarchical systems invite people to live reactive lives.  This creates personal costs.  A friend who works in a federal agency did a self-audit and then shared his observations.  The observations have implications for how we craft our own jobs.

Lately I have noticed how so much of my life has become reactionary.  I react to assignments at work.  Emails flow into my inbox without ceasing and I respond and respond and respond.  On my commute, I react to the actions of other bikers and walkers.  I react emotionally to news on the radio and online.  I react to needs at home: dishes need doing, floors need sweeping, laundry needs folding, the list goes on. 

During my recent vacation I reviewed my current life activities and I tried to see where I was being proactive.  I noticed that my few proactive activities are the areas I love best.  What’s funny is that in some of those activities (like my poems and songs), I have had no traditionally measurable success (i.e., no one has published them).  Still, because I choose to dedicate time to those activities–and no one asked me to–I feel that ever elusive feeling of the “success” I seek. 


  • In your professional life, how many reactive activities do you engage in?
  • Why are proactive activities so rewarding?
  • Is it possible to craft your job so that there are more proactive activities?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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