The last time I remember hearing that word is when it was used by our most senior software developer in my second job.
He said that he wants us to be proactive, and not just reactive.
What does that mean?
I googled for it, of course…
Perhaps you already heard someone say something like “a rich vocabulary means that one has understood lots of ideas” or “a rich vocabulary helps someone communicate an idea in a concise manner”.
A corollary, I think, to that kind of statement is that someone who does not know the meaning of a specific word is perhaps not yet aware about the idea that that specific word represents. Or perhaps he is aware, but has not yet given that much attention to the idea being represented by that word. But that is just a “perhaps”, because it’s also possible for someone to understand something (perhaps not deeply) even when he is not yet able to put it in words.
… Someone who does not know the meaning of a word that describes a behavior has perhaps not yet realized that that kind of behavior exists… Or perhaps he knows that it exists but he does not know that it is good… or that it is bad… or something like that.
I remember encountering the word “cynical” for the first time. I did not understand it. But when I looked in the dictionary for its meaning, I easily understood what it was, because I realized that I was that kind of person. I did not know that there is a single word to describe that kind of behavior! The good thing was that I was already beginning to change when I encountered that word, because it was described another way in a book I read in the past. It said something like this (not exact words), “People want to do good to their fellow men most of the times. Sometimes they just have problems which make them behave badly.”
The same is true when I encountered the word “proactive”. I did not know that there is a word to describe that kind of behavior. But when I learned about it, I knew that I am not that kind of person. I was the negation of a “proactive” person.
I wanted to change that during that time.
I thought I was a fast learner… but today, I think that I am not. I’m just a normal learner. It takes so much time and lots of repetition for me to understand something and to find ways on how to apply it.
In programming, we are being advised to concentrate more on the “what” than the “how”, because that greatly helps programmers communicate effectively with other programmers and with machines at the same time. But that does not mean the the “how” is less important than the “what”. They are both important because if there is a “what” but there is no “how”, what software system do we have?… We still have nothing.
The same is true in life I think. Knowing about the “what”, like knowing about ideas or behavior unknown to us before, is important because it makes us aware of those ideas or behavior, which pushes us forward in the good direction, or help us make the first move towards another direction.
The “how” is also important because it helps us apply those ideas or make the behavioral change.
In my case, I already know about one of the “what”s — I don’t want to be passive anymore. I want to be proactive already.
But the “how”…
Lots of reading to do, perhaps…