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Being Proactive

Person in safety vest in the woods

By Caroline LaBorde, Minnesota Valley Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member


Person in safety vest in the woods
Crew Lead Veronica sighting off the St. Lawrence unit’s southern bluff. [Picture Description] A person wearing a neon yellow safety vest pointing off to the right while standing on a boulder in a marshy, brushy area on a cloudy day.
Hello to all the lovely internet people who visit the blog! I have another introspective post for you that I hope you all can take something from.

Currently, I am taking a college course on Human Relations and Professional Development (sounds fun right?) Being a half-Semester class there is a lot of material to cover, and a lot of the topics that have come up I find myself using to address things in daily life. One of the first posts we were asked to make opens the idea of being proactive, our definition, as well as how it is applied in our lives.

Something that stood out to me from the reading we were assigned (7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey) was the idea of a social mirror. I found myself realizing while working with others why it can be so confusing when ‘common-sense’ things seemed out of reach for them. Anything that I might think is ‘common-sense’ is only ‘common’ in my own frame of reference, my own lens of perspective if you will (sound familiar?). This draws right along to being proactive- now, being proactive sounds pretty simple: be organized, keep a list of tasks, send emails and on and on. This is what education and job training likely has taught many of us. Let’s look at it another way- the idea that using proactive language in relationships means conversations focus on the can-do, the positive outlook.

Moth on a glove.
An ‘I dunno what this is but it’s cool’ Lepidoptera disturbed at Erin Prairie. [Picture Description] A small grey moth sitting on the finger of a work-gloved hand. Blurred out in the background are the tan colors of autumn prairie grasses.
Person sitting crossed legged on a concrete slab
Crew member Caroline after headshots in Little Canada’s memorial park. [Picture Description] A person smiling while sitting cross-legged on a concrete slab in a park with flagpoles in the background. They are wearing a floral long-sleeve shirt with jeans a white tennis shoes. There are leaves on the ground and fall colors in the trees in the background.
Instead of being reactive to everything being said, as though it was an attack on our person or beliefs, conversations are held with the outlook of choosing to talk in a constructive way. The more proactive a person is the more their outlook is focused on others and how they can better themselves. Calmer, giving back to others, creates community. Self-esteem can be affected by reactive and proactive language as well, a highly reactive person might show their insecurity with a more controlling lifestyle and highly inward focus (Aggressive, needs to be seen/noticed, low self-esteem).

Now, that was a lot of psychoanalysis, but what does it mean and how can we apply it in our daily lives? I personally plan to embrace the use of proactive language and actions by being careful not to fall into a reactive spiral when confronted. Being wary of our social mirror and those ‘rose-tinted glasses’ in situations where there are many different backgrounds and experiences to be mindful of is a great way to apply the ‘common-sense’ breaker (aka 5kg sledge) if we find ourselves creating biased opinions of others. What analogy will you use to be mindful?

Person in safety vest in the woods
Crew member Grant walking along a twisted Savannah Oak. [Image Description] A person wearing a hooded canvas jacket and an orange safety vest standing on a tree trunk in a forest with a lot of dead leaves on the ground.