Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.
– Conrad Hilton, Hotel Executive
In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states that leaders are responsible for initiating a connection with their followers. But that’s not the only area where leaders must show initiative. They must always look for opportunities and be ready to take action. What qualities do leaders possess that enable them to make things happen?
- They Know What They Want – No one can be both indecisive and effective. If you are going to be an effective leader, you’ve got to know what you want. That’s the only way you’ll recognize opportunity when it comes.
- They Push Themselves to Act – There’s an old saying, “You can if you will.” Initiators don’t wait for other people to motivate them. They knew it is their responsibility to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. And they make it a regular practice.
- They Take More Risks – When leaders know what they want and can push themselves to act, they still have one more hurdle. That’s willingness to take risks. Proactive people always take risks. But one of the reasons good leaders are willing to take risks is that they recognize there is a price for not initiating too.
- They Make More Mistakes – The good news for initiators is that they make things happen. The bad news is that they make lots of mistakes. Even though initiating leaders experience more failure, they don’t let it bother them. The greater the potential, the greater the chance for failure. If you want to achieve great things as a leader, you must be willing to initiate and put yourself on the line.
Are you an initiator? Are you constantly on the lookout for opportunity, or do you wait for it to come to you? Are you willing to take steps based on your best instincts? Or do you endlessly analyze everything? When was the last time you initiated something significant in your life? If you haven’t pushed yourself lately and gotten out of your comfort zone, you may need to jump-start your initiative.
To improve your initiative, do the following:
- Change your mind-set – If you lack initiative, recognize that the problem comes from the inside, not from others. Determine why you hesitate to take action. Does risk scare you? Are you discouraged by past failures? Do you not see the potential that opportunity offers? Find the source of your hesitation and address it. You won’t be able to move forward on the outside until you can move forward on the inside.
- Don’t wait for opportunity to knock – Opportunity doesn’t come to the door knocking. You’ve got to go out and look for it. Take stock of your assets, talents, and resources. Doing that will give you and idea of your potential. Now, spend every day for a week looking for opportunities. Where do you see needs? Who is looking for expertise you have? What unreached group of people is practically dying for what you have to offer? Opportunity is everywhere.
- Take the next step – It’s one thing to see opportunity. IT’s another to do something about it. As someone once quipped, everyone has a great idea in the shower. But only a few people step out, dry off, and do something about it. Pick the best opportunity you see, and take it as far as you can. Don’t stop until you’ve done everything you can to make it happen.
It will take a bold step from you today to reach your potential tomorrow. What step are you willing to take?
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you. (I Samuel 17:34-37)