Let me introduce you my Granny and her first selfie. She is 95 and after her selfie she said, "ooh I look 105 rather than 95!"
That afternoon we had enjoyed a series of stories from over her 95 years and at one point she got out her handbag to pull out a photo of her at work when she was an ECG technician in the hospital.
Granny is famous for her handbag. Like a magician with their hat, it was full of everything you might need, which on this occasion included an ageing photograph for the 1970's. I commented to her that the handbag seemed smaller than I remembered it as a child. I guess like Wagon Wheels and Freddos, it all seems smaller than when I was a child. As we peered inside the famous handbag, we saw that she still carries a sewing kit in her bag. When I asked her if she still sews, she said, "oh no dear, but everyone knows I carry one and so I keep it in there in case anyone asks to use it." I checked to see if she still had tubes of smarties in there for us, like she used to when we were kids, but she didn't!
Despite being 95 and not able to sew like she could, due to her reducing fine motor ability, she still carried the sewing kit "in case anyone asks to use it." Despite being 95, she continues to be proactive, preparing for every eventuality with her Tardis like handbag.
'Be Proactive', is a key mindset of a leader. Being proactive is the ability to look ahead, see what sort of things may be coming up and then arming yourself with equipment and planning to face those eventualities. So how do you develop proactivity?
Make a friend of your diary
Proactivity is about planning for what is coming. You can only do this with using a diary to look ahead at what is coming.
Do you remember the Swiss Army knife? They were pen knives that had multiple blades. As a child, the more blades your Swiss army knife had, the cooler you were. I still have mine and one of those multi tools which has a pair of pliers, knives, small saw and a knife. It is those two items I take if going camping, because with those two items I can use them for when we went camping as they can deal with most emergencies a camp sight can throw up. When planning ahead, pack items that can be adapted and used in different contexts.
Look backwards to look forward
What experiences have you had and what did you need? These experiences often repeat themselves and so using things we needed in the past they can serve us for the future. In simple terms, as a headteacher I often would have people cry when they came to see me. Not because I was mean and nasty. It was just because often when a parent or a staff member came to see the headteacher, it was often because it was a serious issue or because they had reached the end of their capability to solve it. Hence the tears. And so my experience of the past meant that there was always a box of tissues on my desk. This doubled up as handy glasses wipes when small children came in with grubby glasses!
Being proactive allows you not to be thrown by the last minute, simple things that can throw us. Seeing that you have the presentation on Wednesday means that you prepare it the previous Friday and not the night before. For when we leave it to the night before, it is guaranteed that the cat will be sick on your laptop and that someone will need to be rushed to hospital that night. Leaving it to the last minute means stress levels go up when the last minute glitches happen. Being proactive means you remain in control.
And so back to granny's handbag. If an old lady of 95 can be proactive and contain it all in her handbag, I guess we too can think and plan ahead. You'll be amazed at the difference it can make to a person's stress levels. Even more rewarding than the tube of smarties!