A proactive approach focuses on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear and a reactive approach is based on responding to events after they have happened. The difference between these two approaches is the perspective each one provides in assessing actions and events.
Some of the most well-known examples of the difference between a proactive and reactive approach come from the world of professional sports. Baseball teams who spend a lot of time and energy cultivating their internal development programs for players end up with minor league systems that are stocked with blue-chip prospects. Then, when those teams need a starting pitcher or a power hitter near the trade deadline, they have assets that they need to trade to other teams who are looking to get ahead of the game by trading away a player who is likely to demand a lot of money on the free agent market. Reactive teams try to take care of all of their problems through the free agent market, which means they often spend more resources bringing in talent that has already developed a reputation than proactive teams do. To be proactive, one must have an awareness of future conditions so that they can take advantage of promising situations in the future. Without this awareness, being proactive is difficult in any situation.