Taking The Initiative

Do it! Do it right!! Do it right now!!!

Too many of us are waiting for someone to come along and tell us what to do next.

The story’s told of a man who was employed by a duchess. One day he was called in to speak to his employer. “James, how long have you been with us?” asked the Duchess. “About 30 years, Your Grace,” he replied. “As I recall you were employed to look after the dog,” she said. “Yes, Your Grace.” “James, that dog died 27 years ago,” said the Duchess. “Yes, Your Grace,” said James, “What would you like me to do now?”

Whatever you do — or neglect to do — always catches up with you. Those who procrastinate end up like the man in playwright James Albery’s verse:

“He slept beneath the moon, he baked beneath the sun. He lived a life of going-to-do; and died with nothing done.”

You see … one of the critical elements in the success formula is INITIATIVE … getting out of bed each morning and getting out … roaring to accomplish something. As comedian George Burns noted, “Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.”

So how can you fuel your INITIATIVE?

=> 1. Let go of your past.

Don’t be paralyzed by it. No matter how much adversity you’ve gone through, don’t let it kill off your initiative. After all, everyone goes through adversity.

But it’s the champions in life who keep on taking initiative despite their adversities. When things go wrong, they tell themselves to “Get over it!”

So let me ask you, “Have you been hurt? Have you been betrayed? Have you failed?” Then maybe it’s time to tell yourself to “Get over it!”

And then …

=> 2. Stay open to new ideas.

Whatever made you successful in the past is fine and dandy. But chances are … those same things will not be enough to keep you successful in the future. You need to stay open to new ideas because that will fuel your initiative.

But that’s easier said than done. As quality guru Philip B. Crosby observes, “People subconsciously retard their own growth. They come to rely on clichés and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their minds run on idle for the rest of their days.” They allow themselves to get into a rut and never climb out.

Do you do that? Hopefully not.

Hopefully, you are open to new ideas. You are teachable. As Dr. J. Konrad Hole says: “If you cannot be teachable, having talent won’t help you. If you cannot be flexible, having a goal won’t help you. If you cannot be grateful, having abundance won’t help you. If you cannot be mentor-able, having a future won’t help you. If you cannot be durable, having a plan won’t help you.”

Make sure you’re always open to new ideas … that you’re teachable.

And one way to make sure of that is to …

=> 3. Keep on reading.

And most people don’t. Oh they may read a newspaper, a magazine, or a romance novel, but that kind of reading will seldom if ever build your character, fuel your initiative, or give you greater success. I’m talking about some serious reading that will improve your life and assure your future.

Unfortunately, only one-third of adults read an entire book after graduation. They view learning as an event instead of a process. And they view reading as a PERIOD in life rather than a WAY of life. So it’s no wonder they lack initiative and don’t go as far as they could.

Sidney J. Harris, the journalist, commented on how differently successful and unsuccessful people view learning. He noted, “A winner knows how much he still has to learn, even when he is considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others, before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.” It’s a matter of attitude and initiative.

The Roman scholar Cato had both. When he was 80 he started to study Greek. When asked why he was tackling such a difficult task at this age, he replied, “It’s the earliest age I have left.”

If you will take initiative to keep on reading, you will increase your income by 230%. Now that sounds outlandish, but according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor and from a survey by Yahoo, business people who read at least 7 business books a year earn over 230% more than people reading but 1 book a year.

=> 4. Do more than is expected.

Don’t ever do just enough to get by. Do more than is expected. Show some initiative.

Such was the case in ancient times. A king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many others never understood. The big prizes always go to those who take the most initiative.

The peasant took the initiative to do more than the bare minimum. He didn’t settle for less when more needed to be done. And neither should you. As author Dan Kennedy says, “What you are willing to accept is what you get.”

Without a doubt, the champions in this world are characterized by initiative. Just like the comedian Gracie Allen. She said, I’d announce that I was going to sing and all our guests would make a ring around the piano. But somehow I’d manage to fight my way through that ring and sing anyway.”

Just remember, there are two little words that make all the difference… and they are … START NOW!

Action:  List three things you have been putting off, and take the initiative to do something about them, starting now.