Stop Being Proactive

Ben Heim
3 min readOct 11, 2023
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

In eighth grade, I read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers — a take on the one for adults but written by the original author’s son. The first chapter changed my life for the better (and worse). Here’s that story.

League of Legends

In middle school, I played a lot of video games. League of Legends (League), in particular, stole my heart. Every day, I’d come home from school to hop on on a game with my friends. We’d play for hours. At school, we’d talk about League. In our free time, we’d watch or play League. It was a simple existence and one in which I made many friends.

There was, however, a dark side. Hidden within those hours of gameplay was an incredibly toxic environment of name-calling, degradation, and constant urging for other players to “kys” (kill yourself). An impressionable young teenager, I fell into this trap. If one of my teammates wasn’t playing well, I’d “flame” them (meaning I’d repeatedly berate and insult them). If I wasn’t doing well, it wasn’t my fault — it was my team’s.

That was until I read the first chapter of 7 Habits — Be Proactive. It was a simple message, but it changed the way I approached everything. It encouraged me to stop reacting and instead take a proactive stance. Instead of flaming my team, I would ask myself, “how can I improve and how can I create an environment where each player contributes the most?”

I can’t point solely to this book as the reason for this massive shift. I expect the rapid development of my prefrontal cortex at this age to have contributed quite a bit. Whatever the cause, I was a different person.

I started doing my homework as soon as it was assigned. I no longer waited to hours before the deadline. I was in a constant state of looking out for my future self. How can I improve? How can I approach life with curiosity?

I quit League of Legends shortly after. I considered more value to be found in productivity.

Pushing too far

Over the next few years, I became hyper proactive and productive. So focused on optimizing for my future self, I failed to live in the present. You can read more about that here.