Friday, January 02, 2009


Our basic nature is to act, and not 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 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 key paradigm in business success.
The response is usually agreement -- most people can see how powerfully such an approach would affect their opportunities for employment or advancement. But many of them fail to take necessary steps, the initiative, to make it happen.
"I don't know where to go to take the interest and 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 the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, 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 R 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 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 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.

From book -- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People -- by Stephen R. Covey, pg.75 - 76

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