The Power of Personal Initiative

Posted by Todd Smith

iStock_000002499218manwashing-windowsThink of something you want to achieve that is really important to you. (Don’t continue without selecting one of your top goals.)

Now imagine having achieved it. You’re basking in the satisfaction of a job well done. What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like?  What does it feel like?  How do you feel?

The ONLY way in which you will experience the joy, beauty, and fulfillment that will come by achieving this goal is if you use your personal initiative. It won’t happen without it.

What is Personal Initiative?

Dwight Turner, a newspaper columnist, defines it this way: “Initiative is a force of personal energy that arises from deep within and flows forth into positive, goal-oriented action.”

Your personal initiative is your inner power that starts all action. It is the enemy of procrastination.  It’s the spark that initiates your productive actions. Without personal initiative, you cannot be successful.

How Does One Achieve Success?

Napoleon Hill talked about personal initiative at length in his 9th principle of success. He said, “Success is something you must achieve without someone telling you what to do or why you should do it.

Success comes to those who are proactive.  Instead of drifting through life doing only what is required, successful people do the extra things that bring more meaning to life.

No one told Fred Smith to start FedEx; he started it using his own personal initiative.  No one told Sergey Brin and Larry Page why they should start Google; they did it using their own personal initiative.  No one pushed me every day to do the things that were required of me to achieve my goals; it was the consistent use of my personal initiative that allowed me to achieve them.

No matter what your goal is—becoming a remarkable mom, an honor student, an outstanding athlete, a top-producing salesperson, or the owner of your own business—if you are going to be successful, you must use your personal initiative to do the little things required of you to succeed.  Sorry, but it won’t happen any other way.

Why Do Little Things Matter?

Personal initiative is more than a fundamental requirement to achieving your goals, it’s also about doing the little things that make your life and the lives of others, both at work and at home, more enjoyable.

It’s doing the simple things like picking up your dirty clothes, cleaning the dirty windows, or emptying the overflowing trash can. It’s taking three minutes to clean the coffee mugs in the sink at the office. It’s taking time to express your genuine gratitude to someone who did something for you.  It’s offering to help a friend in need.

In a sense, your personal initiative is noticing and being aware of the things that need to be done without being asked.

One of my fundamental beliefs is that the only way you will have personal initiative to do big things is by first using it to do the little things.  Every big success is made up of a great number of little successes, each of which requires personal initiative and many of which are so small and insignificant that only you notice, but they all add up.

What Are the Hidden Benefits?

Using one’s personal initiative has more benefits than meets the eye.

1.  People who use their personal initiative are more respected and have greater influence.

2.  No other method for building one’s self-esteem is more effective than using your personal initiative to do the little things that make you a better person.

3.  People who consistently use their personal initiative to advance their careers are those who are at the top of the pay scale in their profession.

4.  You will have the edge at everything you do because you will stand out as a person worthy of being noticed.

Why Wait to Use Your Personal Initiative?

I am not sure of the reason, but I see fewer people using their personal initiative to advance their lives forward than at any time in my life.  It’s like everyone is sitting in a holding pattern waiting for something to change.

This is your opportunity to step up your game and distinguish yourself from the growing number of apathetic people. This is your chance to use your unique talent, skill, and ability to achieve the things that are important to you.  Don’t let the lethargic environment around you keep you from stretching yourself to be your very best.

I want to challenge you to start doing the little things that require personal initiative.  As you build your confidence in doing the little things, then start stretching yourself to do the bigger things. Continue this process and allow each success to build on the prior one.

David Mahoney said, “There comes a time when you need to stop revving up the car and put it in gear.”  Now is the time to put your life in gear and go conquer your dreams.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” -William Jennings Bryan

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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