This week I am looking at ‘taking initiative. It is on my list of values and could be a virtue too. The distinction between values and virtues is perhaps a distinction without a difference. Can you have one without the other? Does one enable or create the other? Are they symbiotic?
Initiative is doing the right thing without being told. – Victor Hugo
I have struggled for decades against habit, all of them, regardless of label, because something seems off or incomplete if I am just a bag full of habits. Being on automatic, operating full out toward some unknown destiny, left me without a sense of accomplishment no matter how high the success. Is that the ego? Or, is that just moving the goal post after every success?
Then I noticed something. I do many things that make me [and others] happy out of habit. I call my parents three times a week. It is a thirty some year old habit. I ‘prospect’ habitually and constantly. I investigate what has you say yes and pretty much ignore no or maybe.
If you are empowered, you suddenly have a lot of work to do because you have the power to do it. If you are unempowered, you are less dominated by the opportunities in front of you. In other words, you have an excuse to not do the work. You have a way out. You have the security of being able to do what you have always done and get away. If you are empowered, suddenly you must step out, innovate and create. The cost, however, of being unempowered is people’s self-expression. They always have the feeling that they have something in them that they never really gave, never really expressed. By simply revealing the payoffs and costs of being unempowered, people have a choice. They can begin to see that it is possible to make the choice to be empowered rather than to function without awareness. Empowerment requires a breakthrough and in part that breakthrough is a kind of shift from looking for a leader to a sense of personal responsibility. The problems we now have in communities and societies are going to be resolved only when we are brought together by a common sense that each of us is visionary. Each of us must come to the realization that we can function and live at the level of vision rather than following some great leader’s vision. Instead of looking for a great leader, we are in an era where each of us needs to find the great leader in ourselves. – Werner Erhard
Once empowered ‘taking initiative’ is automatic, with complete self-expression and without fear of rejection, loss or face. You will be attacked however. Suggesting everyone be the leader is against the current paradigms view of is. You “IS” a follower and don’t let anyone get ahead of you either.
Some more quotes to ponder regarding initiative…
Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions. – Bo Bennett
Are workers without initiative bad and wrong or just future leaders who have not reached their full level of incompetence yet?
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. – John Dryden
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Albert Camus
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. – Al Gore
Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative – don’t wait for someone else to ask you to act. – Sylvia Earle
Do a search for ‘initiative pictures’ and you will discover it is a code word for ‘five year plan’ used in earlier decades. Initiative is a word without meaning when tacked on the end of a political agenda.
Taking the initiative is starting now on something that will make your future self proud.
Where are you willing to take initiative?