Reactive vs. Proactive Strategies and Tactics

Reactive vs Proactive

The word “reactive” implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it in order to just stay afloat. __ ActivePause

The default state for most humans is the “reactive state.” Coasting in cruise control, people typically spend time waiting for something to react to. This can be true for the surgeon on call, the soldier on sentry duty, the fighter in the ring, the cop on his beat, or students in a classroom. Waiting, reacting, waiting, reacting . . .

When I started out fighting professionally

, I was a very reactive fighter. I used to get beat up a fair amount in the first round, and then typically come back to win in the later rounds (or, I’d just lose, ha).

Chad Hamzeh.com
Chad Hamzeh.com

I was known as a “slow starter”.

So, in a fight, I was reacting more than anything. I’d react to my opponents punches and takedown attempts, then later try and mount my own offense.

I did this because in the back of my mind, I didn’t want to get tired early on, then pretty much be a punching bag in the later rounds due to fatigue. __ Chad Hamzeh

What Chad learned as he progressed in fighting, was that the right kind of proactive exertion in the beginning rounds of a fight can pay dividends toward the middle and the end.

Most “self-defence” training is oriented around reacting to an attack. By honing the reflexes, one can react far more quickly, appropriately, and effectively, than if one does not train his rapid subconscious reactions to unexpected provocations. And there is no getting around the fact that the unexpected happens — life is full of surprises!

On the other hand, taking a broader, more aware, less emotion-laden, and more “proactive” approach to potentially hazardous situations, can deliver results that are closer to optimal.

. . . the image we associate with “proactivity” is one of grace under stress. To stay with the previous analogy, let’s say you’re in choppy waters. Now, you look more at ease. It’s not just that you anticipate the waves. You’re in tune with them. You’re not desperately trying to escape them; you’re dancing with them.

It would be great to dance with the rhythm of life, using the ebb and flow of events as a source of energy. __ Proactive vs. Reactive

This is the essence of Dangerous Child training for dangerous jobs and environments. Not only is the Dangerous Child better prepared for the situation, he is using broader and higher forms of dynamic thinking and moment to moment planning — before things start going sour.

What I call the proactive mindset is the human ability to engage the more evolved neural circuits, and perform a sort of due diligence to improve the quality of the information that we get through the reactive mindset. I am not talking about ignoring our more primitive reactions, far from that. I am talking about building up on these primitive reactions. Instead of reacting impulsively, we use the reactive impulse as a starting point for a more sophisticated process that helps us respond more effectively to a given situation. __ Beyond Reactive

Here is the idea of “proactivity” as described by author Stephen Covey:

Underlying the Habit of Proactivity according to Covey are:      

  • The ability to set goals and work towards achieving them.
  • Creating opportunities, not waiting for them to come your way
  • Taking conscious control of your life
  • Understanding the choice you have in engineering your life
  •  Applying your own personal principles and core values in making decision
  •  Having imagination and creativity to explore possible alternatives
  • Realizing you have independent will to choose your own unique response.

___ Stephen Covey quoted in Lifehacker

Do not mistake “proactivity” with a constant wild flailing around merely to have an impact. That is mindless dissipation of resources and potential. Sometimes proactivity takes the form of quiet contemplation and resolution. Sometimes proactivity involves beating the crap out of someone who has long deserved worse. It depends on the circumstances — and having the savvy to know what is best at the time. And, once knowing, then doing.

Proactivity and Reactivity are reflected in both strategy and tactics. The “element of surprise” is often a result of the conversion of proactive strategy into proactive tactics.

We will be looking at proactive tactics and strategy from the standpoint of education, child-rearing, local defence, regional defence, networked defence, politics, innovation, and more, in the future.

The modern bureaucratic mentality — which rules most governments, universities, media, government lobbies, NGOs, and other cultural institutions — is largely reactive in an opportunistic, knee-jerk way. It is important to learn how to anticipate and take advantage of this tendency in most large institutions.

There is no such thing as a fair fight, especially when a small bunch of mice are in conflict with mad herds of rhinoceri. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late (or early) to have a Dangerous Childhood.