Tired of Putting Out Fires? Get Proactive!

Shout out to all firefighters! You are awe-inspiring! You stare danger in the face and take action. You don’t let fear stop you from doing what needs to be done. Firefighters are much in the news these days with the wildfires in the Appalachian Mountains. So when someone said to me that he was busy putting out fires at work, it got me thinking.

Do you know any unofficial firefighters?

I bet you do. Unofficial firefighters are the business owners who spend all their time putting out fires. They’re so busy dealing with emergencies that they can’t actually do any of their “real” work.

If you are one of those unofficial firefighters, you’re not doing yourself or your business any favors. Unlike real firefighters, who regularly confront scary situations, constantly putting out fires at work is a sign that something scary is being avoided. It’s a sign that something needs to change. Change is scary, but it’s time to stop reacting to your circumstances and become proactive.

What does it mean to be proactive?

Being a proactive business owner means looking ahead to solve problems before they paralyze your business and planning ahead to weather economic storms. Being proactive also means that you’ll be more productive and that feels good. You’ll be able to better care for your employees and your clients, both of which will have a positive impact on your business.

How to become more proactive:

  • Manage your time. I see lots of people who are busy being busy. There’s always something to do, but your job as the company leader is to prioritize and delegate where you can.
  • Set goals and consistently work towards them. Putting out fires puts your business in a holding pattern. Making proactive decisions will propel you forward towards your goals.
  • Trust your team. Quality employees want to demonstrate quality work. So if you’ve hired someone to do a job, give that person space to do it.
  • Take the long view. When it comes to problem-solving and decision-making, short term solutions equate to putting out fires. Try asking yourself this: I know this product/process will solve our problem right now, but will it also work for us in the future? If the answer is no, then you need to pause and give the decision more thought.

There’s no time like the present to make a change. 15 additional tips on becoming a more proactive business leader can be found here  and here. Get proactive!

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