Lack of initiative is because of an abundance of fear. While it is true apathy could play a role, those who do not care are not reading this, so why bother to spend any time trying to appeal to their better judgment. It is not important to them.
Besides, you can hide apathy behind proclamations of an inability. Fortunately, an inability can be conquered. There are limbless kids constructing custom-fitted, brightly colored, prosthetic hands for themselves and their friends via 3-D printing. Could you have gotten your head around that concept five years ago? Sure, we could all compose a list of things that just cannot be done…yet. Once someone with determination has the initiative, whatever you thought could never happen begins to occur.
For all its abundance, fear can be conquered too. Once you take the initiative to face it, or even if you make the choice to ignore it, despite your imagined dangers, courage levels rise and trepidation dissipates.
People like it when others show initiative because it is the action part of leadership. Talking, planning, and strategizing are great but are not enough. Thinking alone does not make it so. Thinking combined with movement is initiative. Sometimes it does not work out, and sometimes it does, either way, effort was applied.
The difference between success and failure can often be rooted in the honesty of one’s judgment. Discernment and initiative are helpful tools. Discernment is a bubble-level; initiative is a saw. Measure twice, cut once, is a rule that transcends woodshop. It prevents lopsidedness in your decision-making.
There is little more frustrating than learning that people knew something had to be done; a wrong righted, but they lacked the initiative to do anything about it. History is littered with examples of their indifference and cowardice; litter our history, and today’s campuses, boardrooms, streets, and fields.
Making a commitment to action is less impressive to me. Commitments get broken with alarming frequency and little consequence. Better to be the person who takes the initiative.
What will you initiate next?
Karl Bimshas is a leadership consultant who collaborates with busy executives to improve the working relationships with their colleagues and direct reports to create high performing teams. He’s the author of “How to Stay When You Want to Quit;Strategies to get over yourself“.