This is a word that we hear often and believe we understand. However, most people have no idea what it means in a practical sense, certainly not with reference to themselves.
Passivity seems to be the order of the day. All too often, we look to others for the lead in what to think, believe and do. That may be our employer, the government, our spouse, our parents, or even our celebrity heroes.
Yet, the human mind is built to be creative and to take initiative; to ponder a problem, create effective solutions and then to take action to achieve the desired outcome.
So why don’t we do it?…
Ultimately, the answer comes down to our internal programming. If you were taught from the start to be self-reliant, self-confident and generally positive in your outlook to life, then the chances are that you believe that the universe is a good place and that if you take action in the direction of what you want, then you are highly likely to achieve your desired outcome.
However, the problem is that most of us are not raised that way. Parents, school, friends, and society all unwittingly conspire to discourage, dampen and crush the spirits of the growing child into a drab colorless conformity. Young children are great believers in themselves and their right to whatever they want to be or to do. However, by the time these same children have reached adulthood, this is no longer the case.
A group hypnosis has taken over, whereby we toe the line, look to others to see what it is legitimate to do and to dare, and
generally just try to get by. We put a low, self-imposed, ceiling on what we are truly capable of. We expect little of ourselves and are therefore never surprised.
So what is the way out of this whole cycle of deadness?…
The first step is Awareness. It is important to simply be aware that the life you are living, if it is anything like what has just been described, is only a small fraction of what you are truly capable of. It it definitely NOT the way it is meant to be or the way you were designed to function. If you believe that other people have more talent, more energy, more social connections than you and that as a result, you could never hope to match them, you are incorrect.
Realize that many people started with extreme disadvantages and yet were ultimately extremely successful in some chosen vocation. I just heard the story of a gentleman who was born to poor parents in the backwoods (literally, the forests) of Origen, hundreds of miles from anywhere with no connections and basic education, and who worked right into his mid-twenties at manual labor jobs. Yet, a decade or more later, his business makes $20 million or more a year! This is just a financial business example, because most people can relate to the contrast. However, the same is true in ANY field of endeavor you would care to mention.
The next step is to truly believe that you can improve, and then devise a plan to do it. Your life can and should be a constant process of improvement. Examine the way that you are doing things and see how you can tweak them for the better. Small continual
improvements over a sustained time really build up to the point where you will look back and be amazed at the progress you have made. These small incremental changes are things you can easily handle in the here and now, seem almost trivial to do, and yet they really do lead to enormous results.
Having clear goals of what you wish to do with your time and your life is critical. Now, we have doubtless all heard about how important goals are, and it all sounds wonderful in theory. However, when people give goal-setting a try, most notably in New Year’s resolutions, they fail miserably.
One of the main reasons for this is that nobody actually TEACHES the method of goal-setting and monitoring. We certainly never learn it at school or university. This is quite amazing when you think that this subject is arguably THE single most important subject that you could ever learn. After all, if you truly master the art of setting and achieving goals, it is arguable that you can master pretty well anything else thereafter.
So, you should make it your goal, a life-long goal actually, to master the art and science of goal-setting itself! Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a simple process to learn and implement. There are all sorts of nuances, not to mention the mental disciplines you have to master such as Persistence and Accountability (to yourself). It takes time to become really good at this, but most people give up on the whole thing far too quickly.
You can obtain some excellent courses on goal setting from any number of personal development teachers, and you should definitely do so. Invest in your long-term future by investing first in your own clarity of mind.
Above and beyond all of this though is the fact that you have to break out of the cultural hypnosis that holds us all entranced. Initiative is not something that comes easy to us because we are not brought up to it, we see so few examples in everyday life of people doing it, and often we are not rewarded on the occasions when we DO actually step up to the plate and try to go our own way. Indeed, sometimes we can even seem to be punished on the short-term.
That is why you have to really examine your own mind and understand its workings. Question your most common beliefs and your habitual modes of operation. Ask yourself, does it really have to be done this way, or could there be a better way? Is it remotely possible that I might be mistaken in the way I am conducting myself? What is it that I really want in this situation? And so on.
Understand too that the best mirror of your habitual thinking and beliefs is the life you are living right now! Hence, if all is good and you are blissfully happy, then you may conclude that you have excellent internal integrity regarding your inner talents and abilities and your external expression of them. However, if your life is a mess, then you need to take a close and discriminating examination of how it came to be that way and work out a strategy to get it to where you want it to be.
This is not the time to play the Blame Game either. There is no profit in blaming others, although they may well have contributed to where you are now, without a doubt. However, it is only by taking personal responsibility for ALL that is in your life that you can also take personal responsibility for the way it is going to proceed from this day forth. If you give your power away by blaming others for the past, it therefore follows that you cannot take the power that is yours to shape the future!
In conclusion, taking initiative is all about living life on your terms in a self-empowering way. This also brings blessings to other people too since if you are living to the absolute best within you, other people benefit from your gifts and talents too. If you do not do this, then not only do you silently smolder with resentment at life itself, knowing you could be better than this but are not, but other people lose out on the benefit that the best YOU available might have brought to them.
Taking initiative means that you do not get trapped into the cycle and prison of habitual thinking, thereby creating within yourself the hell so many people live in of learned helplessness. If you lack initiative for long enough, you eventually lose self-reliance and self-belief and go through the same motions every day, looking to others for support to prop you up in every conceivable way. If you manifest initiative throughout your life, then you feel better about yourself, achieve more, enjoy more control over your life, better health and contribute more to society.
There is not even a choice. The decision is obvious. Vote for Initiative!
Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2011. All Rights Reserved.
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