If you are waiting for your clients to need something, you’re being reactive.
If you can’t shut down your email and turn off your phone for a couple hours at a time, you’re completely reactive. If you can shut down distractions long enough to do big blocks of focused work, only calling or emailing your clients back when you’re finished, you are being responsive.
If you help your clients solve their service issues when they call or email you, you are being reactive. When you help your clients get to the person that owns the transaction on their first call, only escalating calls to you when they need a new outcome, you are being responsive to their real needs. (Hint: You own the outcomes, not the transactions. You don’t often add value as an intermediary)
If you wait until your client decides on their next big initiative and bring it to you, you are being reactive. It’s proactive when you respond to the changes you notice in their business and bring them the new big ideas.
The problem with being reactive instead of being responsive is that you’re always waiting for something to happen. You’re waiting for the world to act on you before you respond. Something happens and you react. While it’s necessary for you take action when your clients have a need, this is the opposite of being proactive and taking initiative.
How much better could you serve your clients if you were responsive instead of reactive? How much more value could you create if you found a way to limit what you have to react to so you can be more proactive?
The more reactive you are, the less responsive you can be. You’re too busy reacting to what comes your way instead of doing your most important work.
How much of your day is spent on outcomes you were determined to take, not a reaction to what someone else dropped in your lap?
Can you be responsive without being reactive?
Do you answer your email and your voicemail before you start working on your most important outcomes? How much of you inbox is made up of things that require you to react?
What do you need to do to be more proactive and less reactive?