Taking OWNership: Are You Proactive or Reactive?

Reactions are like second nature now. No one questions them. The weather influences my mindset. My dinner plans influence my excitement for the day. The nature of my tasks influence my productivity. Everything is dependent on something else that, more often than not, is completely irrelevant. These are examples of what taking OWNership is not.

What does taking OWNership mean anyway?

Taking OWNership is that feeling of consciously choosing how each moment of your day will pan out. It’s about using every opportunity you get to the maximum to envision your future. It’s about infusing each moment with a sense of gratefulness for everything that has happened and a sense of motivation for everything that will. It is not about you being an actor in a movie, whose every action is determined by something or someone else.

But the reality is far harder. Because, more often than not, circumstances force us into a position where we have to make decisions while we are drowning in an uncomfortable commotion rather than choose our actions consciously. This is a reaction. It is an act of succumbing to one’s immediate circumstances and giving in to the emotions that overpower one’s rational decision making capabilities. Simply put, it’s a situation where one becomes a victim of their situations. One becomes powerless.

Be the captain of your OWN ship

But that is not what we do here at OWN Academy. However easy it is to succumb to the circumstances, the winners defy that. We realize that we have the potential to create opportunities and be resourceful in order to improve who we are as well as everything around us. Being proactive is about holding your life’s reins yourself. It’s about being the captain of your own ship. The purpose of proactivity is to internalize your approach to everything around you and minimize the dependence on external factors. It is a fundamental shift in your thought process that changes from “If” to “Be”. Instead of “if I had a better teacher”, try and approach it by saying “what if I could be more resourceful and be a more effective learner?”. This instills a feeling of leadership, even if it’s only within your own life, which eventually translates into a feeling of empowerment. Once you achieve this, your outlook will shine on every single aspect of your life, and you’ll grow beyond what you could even imagine. You will grow beyond your surroundings because your proactive outlook transcends any border and any sense of confinement.

I recently saw a beautiful illustration of this concept. A shark in a fish tank can grow up to 8 inches, but a shark in the sea can grow up to 8 feet or more. This directly shows how — when you outgrow confining ideologies and reactive paradigms—you’ll flourish. However, another thing that you can learn from this example is that growth doesn’t come easy. A fish tank is a safe space, no harm and no unpredictability. But the sea is the complete opposite. Although the chances of the shark being attacked are remarkably low, it does have to fend for itself and has to protect itself from being caught. This shows how your
growth comes as a result of taking OWNership of your circumstances as well as your ability to make decisions and take risks in a turbulent environment.

How to navigate the uncertainties of the real world

Speaking of turbulence, it is no secret that the one weapon we have as a society to combat the unpredictability and challenges of the real world is education. But contrary to popular belief, education is not only what is seen in the traditional dynamic of imparting knowledge using textbooks, it’s about
building a real world connection with individuals to foster the soft skills needed to navigate the uncertainties of the world. In my opinion, these soft skills paired with the proactive mindset means that the word “boundary” won’t even exist in your lexicon.

This is where OWN Academy steps in. As a team, we recognise the power and role of education in tackling the social injustices that have permeated our society. This is why, on every level, we try to imbibe the ethos of taking charge and learning from every opportunity. I don’t think this could have been better exemplified by any other event other than the OWN Future Fair that was hosted last January 2021.

Amidst a pandemic, situated thousands of kilometers apart, we could have taken the easy route. We could have stalled and said that we’ll organize such an event after the pandemic is over and a sense of normalcy returns. But we didn’t. We chose to choose consciously, strive passionately, and fight endlessly for the mission that unites us. I think I speak on behalf of the entire team, that if we had a chance to redo all of it, we’d do it again without a shadow of a doubt. Because this is what it means to take OWNership, it means to acknowledge the difficulties and still know that your belief in the mission triumphs it all. And it is that belief that allows you to take the conscious decisions that are the key to fulfillment in life.

Written by: Saanchi Shah, Student Ambassador at OWN Academy