We hear people often talk about “taking initiative.” Sure, it’s an important quality for Millennials to possess, but what does it mean to “have initiative”? What does it look like in practice?
Today’s News To Live By runs on 100% Initiative. It’s like supreme-grade fuel that costs nothing and never runs out. Below, I have bolded every time we see a moment of pure initiative. So fill up your tank and keep focused: initiative tends to make things move pretty fast.
David Ortiz often steps to the plate in big moments but rarely like this.
During Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, the veteran Boston Red Sox slugger delivered a fiery speech to shake his team from a slump and propel them to a big win (colorful breakdown by ESPN’s Rick Reilly). The Sox then went on to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals in six games.
“Big Papi” didn’t wait for someone else to inspire the clubhouse; no, he took it upon himself.
Ortiz, who has already won two World Series titles, leaped into action and will now be remembered in Boston sports lore as a leader first and clutch hitter second — albeit extremely clutch. Moments of true character are that powerful.
Need more evidence of initiative? Sure, I can do that.
In late October, I went back to my college for Homecoming and a (pathetic) football game. At a tailgate before kickoff, I found myself in conversation with the school’s student body president. He explained to me how, when he arrived as a freshman, student government was full of committees that didn’t work and chairpersons who didn’t do their jobs.
I said, “I thought you were at college, not in Congress.”
Anyway, he told me he spent the last two years amending the rules and making student council more efficient. For his efforts, he likely gained the admiration of his classmates. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be their president right now.
Did anyone ask the guy to fix student government? Probably not. Yet he recognized a problem, rolled up his sleeves and found a solution. He earned respect through good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, and there’s nothing more satisfying.
Got enough fuel for one more example? I’m doing my best to keep the column moving.
Recently at work (I’m in PR/marketing), we had a presentation from the general manager of a new radio station in town. Did we call for the meeting? Nope. The GM had come into our office the week before, met our team and asked for a more formal opportunity to explain his station. We agreed since we always like to have new ways to promote our clients.
At the presentation, the GM led the conversation and asked what we want out of his station. He also recognized when the meeting had gone on long enough and made his exit.
Later that day, we all received an email in which he thanked us for the time and reminded us to email him creative marketing ideas. Know what? I probably will.
Let me summarize these various stories.
People with initiative understand when to grab the reins and make things go. Everyone has the opportunity to be a leader, but few jump at the chance when it’s dangling in front of them.
Any member of the Red Sox could have lit a fire with an impassioned speech. Any undergrad could have dealt with the inefficiencies of student council. And any local radio station GM could have visited our office and requested a meeting.
Now, Ortiz, the student body prez and GM all have the confidence of those around them.
Here’s the plan.
The next time you have a chance to step up, seize it. If it feels funny to be in charge, ask people you respect what they would do.
Taking on responsibility is the biggest hurdle, anyway. The rest you’ll figure out as you go.
Oh, I found one more example of taking initiative, and it’s an inspiring one.
Think how you can lead by example in your own life. The next time an opportunity comes along, your answer should be swift and supreme grade.
“Give it to me. I’ll handle it.”