Proactive as given by Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Fourth Edition, 2005 :
Proactive as given by Meriam-Webster Online Dictionary :
1[1pro-] : relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning
2[2pro- + reactive] : acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes
— pro·ac·tive·ly adverb
Stephen Covey in his excellent book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, names proactive as Habit # 1. Proactive is not merely taking the initiave. Proactive means:
1. We are responsible for our own lives
2. To act and not wait to be acted upon
3.To acknowledge mistakes, correct it and learn from it.
A proactive person puts himself in charge of his life. He realises that there is gap between stimulus and response. He is driven by values. When there is an obstacle of any kind in front of a proactive person, he does not wait for the government, his employer, his wife or his neighbour's mother- in -law to move it. He works on removing the obstacle himself or at least try circumventing it.
A proactive person puts his total effort on things that are under his direct control using the four human endowments which are:
1. Self Awareness
A proactive person makes a promise and strives to keep it, sets a goal and works to achieve it. He does not get distracted or loses his motivation when things doesn't go his way due to circumstances beyond his control. Unlike a reactive person, a proactive person is the captain of his ship and he decides his own destination.
The spirit of proactive action for me is best captured by the quote below.
" Do your best in whatever you do,
with whatever you have,
wherever you are"
~ George Bernard Shaw