A Word About Initiative…

The following is excerpted from Franklin Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

proactivityA recent teaching opportunity at work with an employee made this excerpt really jump out for me. I hope you get from it all that I did…

“Our basic nature is to act, and not to be acted upon. As well as enabling us to choose our response to particular circumstances, this empowers us to create circumstances.

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.

Over the years, I have frequently counseled people who wanted better jobs to show more initiative–to take interest and aptitude tests, to study the industry, even the specific problems the organizations they are interested in are facing, and then to develop an effective presentation showing how their abilities can help solve the organization’s problem. It’s called ‘solution selling,’ and is a key paradigm in business success.

-‘I don’t know where to go to take the interest or aptitude tests.’

-‘How do I study industry and organizational problems? No one wants to help me.’

-I don’t have any idea how to make an effective presentation.’

Many people wait for something to happen or someone to take care of them. But people who end up with good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principals, to get the job done.

Whenever someone in our family, even one of the younger children, takes an irresponsible position and waits for someone else to make things happen or provide a solution, we tell them, ‘Use your T and I!’ (resourcefulness and initiative). In fact, often before we can say it, they answer their own complaints, ‘I know–use my R and I!’

Holding people to the responsible course is not demeaning; it is affirming. Proactivity is part of human nature, and, although the proactive muscles may be dormant, they are there. By respecting the proactive nature of other people, we provide them with at least one clear, undistorted reflection from the social mirror.

Of course, the maturity level of the individual has to be taken into account. We can’t expect high creative cooperation from those who are deep into emotional dependence. But we can, at least, affirm their basic nature and create an atmosphere where people can seize opportunities and solve problems in an increasingly self-reliant way.”

It seems there are many today who feel that some one else should take care of them. Perhaps if these sort of values were taught in higher education we would be a more proactive and a more PRODUCTIVE society.

throw me a bone

1 comment… add one

  • Lisa Macklin

    Hi Mr. Martell,
    I was just wondering if I could use your throw me a bone pay my tuition photo for a journalism article on student loans. To me it’s a very important photo that illustrates exactly what I’m trying to convey to students at my college but I would love to have your permission.

    Thanks so much for your time.

    Lisa Macklin