Passivity vs. Proactivity

proactivityWhat’s the big secret of getting things done, of making things happen, of turning your dreams into realities?

Right now we have a participant in the Marketing Mastery Program who is, as they say, “kicking butt and taking names.”

She’s fine-tuning her marketing and selling activities, setting up appointments with qualified prospects and turning many of them into new clients.

But what impresses me is that she’s in a constant search to find a better approach, a more effective way to ask questions, a more refined way of moving the sale forward. And she keeps requesting feedback, asking questions and then modifying her approach.

She’s in a state I like to call “Proactivity.”

And when you’re in a state of proactivity, you can literally create miracles.

Sadly, however, most of us are not searching for proactivity or any other expansive state of being. We are looking for strategies, techniques and how-tos. The proverbial silver bullet.

And as important as these are, they are almost useless if we don’t find the right state of being first. You see, the problem most of us have with marketing is that we’re in a state of “Passivity.” And in this state, we are just waiting for things to happen.

When we find a strategy or technique and we’re in a state of passivity, we usually won’t implement it. Or if we do, we do it half-heartedly. We’re looking for some magic but the magic is never in the strategy, it’s in the state of proactivity.

If we transform our state of being from passive to proactive, then all strategies can be magic. Every technique, approach, how-to and process, when applied proactively, has a good chance of working.

When I coach someone who is in a passive state and share a particular strategy that I know works, I don’t get much of a response. It’s more like, “What else you got? that one doesn’t excite me too much. I’m looking for something more exciting, dynamic, powerful to get my marketing going.”

But when I coach someone who is in a proactive state and share the same strategy, they are all over it. They want to know exactly what to do and how to do it. They want details, scripts, nuances that will ensure this strategy will work. They bring their own excitement to the strategy.

Mr. Passive takes no action. Ms. Proactive goes into massive action. Guess who gets the best results?

As a result of realizing this, a big part of my coaching is focused on shifting a state or mindset of passivity into one of proactivity.

The good news is that this is something you can do for yourself.

Here’s an exercise you can try.

But note that you must have a little bit of Proactivity to even try it. If you’re totally stuck in Passivity you’ll read this and brush it off quickly as a waste of time, not even giving it fair try. If that’s the case, then just trust me. What do you possibly have to lose? After all, it just might work!

This exercise is a powerful first step in transforming Passivity into Proactivity.

1. What is your current state or mindset of passivity? What does it think, what does it believe, what does it feel, what does it avoid, what is it trying to control, dominate, justify, and be right about?

Write these down.

2. Is this state of passivity who you are?

Yes or No?

3. What is it costing you to maintain this state of passivity?

Write down the answer.

4. Who would you be if you could no longer be passive in your marketing, in your business, in your life?

Write down the answer.

5. What is the state or mindset of proactivity? What does it think, what does it believe, what does it feel, what is it trying to accomplish, what is the contribution it wants to make?

Write these down.

6. What is the payoff of being proactive instead of passive?

Write down the answer.

7. What insights do you have from this exercise?

Write them all down.

8. Take Action

What is something you already know you need to do in your marketing but have been avoiding? Make a quick plan, create an action list and then commit to taking one small action at a time until you’ve accomplished your goal.

Note that this exercise only works if you take a few minutes to do it. It does absolutely nothing by just reading it.

The More Clients Bottom Line: Developing the state or mindset of proactivity is a skill, an ability you have to nourish. But your state or mindset of passivity is not interested in proactivity. And that state tends to be a more dominant state much of the time. It takes some intention and conscious work to transform passivity into proactivity. Are you willing to do the work? Start with the exercise above.

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.


  1. Roseanne says

    This exercise about being proactive vs. passive helped me identify the limiting beliefs which were keeping me from writing. Recently, my schedule cleared and I am now able to devote time to writing. Following this exercise, I have a written time-management plan, which will be easy to follow. I also have inspiration about the content of my writing. Thank you so much!