When things don’t go to plan, there seems to be 2 vastly different ways of operating. Either we take ownership of the action/behaviour, or we seek to dodge any responsibility/accountability.

When thought-leader Stephen R. Covey drafted his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he identified a distinct difference between proactive individuals and leaders who recognize that they are response-able. They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. They know they choose their behaviour. In contrast, reactive people can feel affected by events and/or their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behaviour.

Each of these external forces can act as triggers which we respond to. Covey famously quoted that; “between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power – the freedom to choose your response.” One of the most important things you can choose is what you say and do. Your language and your actions are good indicators of how you perceive yourself.

A proactive person uses proactive language – I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language – I can’t, I have to, if only, it’s just the way I am. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do – that the choice is not theirs to make.

The confronting beauty and simplicity of the O.A.R.B.E.D. model.

You may have heard of the phrase, Above the Line or Below the Line behaviours.

Proactive people are considered to operate mostly above the line. Whereas reactive people can be observed operating below the line.

The line, can act as a point of differentiation between acceptance (above) and avoidance (below).

Above the line we can find Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility.

Below the line resides Blame, Excuses and Denial.

Our call to action is to improve our self-awareness, identifying when we may succumb to below-the-line thinking. This shouldn’t take you on a guilt-trip, as long as you strive to shift your actions to an above-the-line response.


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