Week 20 – Taking Initiative


The key is taking responsibility and initiative,
deciding what your life is about and prioritising your life
around the most important things.

– Stephen Covey

If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll get nothing done.

– Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Follow your bliss, and what looks like walls will turn into doors.

– Joseph Campbell

The American Heritage Dictionary defines initiative as “the power, ability, or instinct to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task; enterprise and determination”.

 Joan Stein, CEO of Accessibility Development Associates says, “initiative is absolutely important in hiring decisions. Initiative shows energy and commitment. I want people with energy.”

My virtue this week 20 of the MKMMA is Taking Initiative. I placed this about midway in my list as I thought it was a virtue that I need more work on but did on occasion show some signs of taking initiative.  I think anyone who has their own business can  not succeed without this virtue. It seems to be a highly coveted virtue in the workplace too.

In his book , “How to Be a Star at Work”, written by Carnegie Mellon University professor and national consultant Robert E. Kelley, he discusses “nine breakthrough strategies” you need to succeed in the workplace.

When discussing the nine breakthrough strategies necessary to succeed in the workplace, Dr. Kelley says “demonstrating initiative proved to be the most powerful work skills tool for bridging the chasm between the intelligent, average worker and the super productive, star worker. If you are starting out in a new workplace, you will quickly be judged on whether you go beyond your specific responsibilities and take initiative.”

Of course, in researching taking initiative, I kept thinking about how this course really encourages the development of this virtue, and I can see the effects in my life.

Thesaurus suggests the following synonyms for taking initiative – as in volunteer.
“verb – offer to do something, sign up, step forward, enlist, step up, suggest advance, present offer, bring forward, do on one’s own volition, go in, let oneself in for, offer services, put at one’s disposal,  speak up, stand up, submit oneself, take bull by the horns, take the plunge.

The synonyms for taking initiative brought to mind the exercise we started in this course weeks back. Where we “bring a gift to everyone we meet.”

I work in a rehabilitation and fitness center in a small town where the average age is over 70. Every morning as I enter into the “gym” I have made it a point of saying HELLO to everyone I meet and greeting them with a smile, regardless. Frankly,  I would prefer not to do this, I would prefer to be invisible, to bury my head and walk as quickly as possible through this area. I feel like the moment anyone walks in,  everyone’s attention is on them. They seem desperate for some distraction to save them from the monotony of their drill. And it goes much deeper than that. Rarely do they smile, unless smiled upon.

It takes effort on my part, initiative, energy if you will.  I know I am doing this for my greater good, and it is the right thing to do. Clearly, I want to break free of my conditioning, I do not want to be like the people, sitting on the machines going through the motions. As Earl Nightingale points out, somewhere along the journey of life they conformed.  On the bright side, they are showing initiative by getting to the gym. Someone, their doctor most likely, has told them they need to go through certain exercises. I don’t see a lot of initiative once there. They do just enough but God only knows how much worse their condition could be without showing up, right? I am amazed how few people have a happy face.

As I see it, their conditioning or lack of it, is not my concern. I want to be the change. So, I freely offer my smile and look them in the eye and make a connection. I imagine I am the “Star” of the gym, I hold my head high, I let my light shine. I shine on all. I make this light available to anyone that wishes to partake. I want to be the change.


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