Dream Catchers Are Opportunity Grabbers – Having the Initiative and Bias for Action
Debunking the myth that some people are destined to be always a step behind or a step ahead of others.
What would the world be like if no one initiates?
Life would be unimaginably toilsome if no one took the initiative to make work easier by inventing the machines. Life will be chaotic if no one took the initiative to organise people into communities and to make laws to govern them. There will be no charitable agencies if no one took the initiative to take care of the poor, the sick and the helpless. And we would not be around if our parents did not take the initiative to act on their love for each other. The list goes on and on.
Thanks to the unending list of initiatives that the world does have. It makes life more meaningful, manageable, easier and a whole lot happier. But men initiate not only to impact the world but also to make changes in themselves for the better.
Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, an authority on Emotional Intelligence (EI), clustered initiative and bias for action among the motivational competencies of EI. The dictionary defines initiative as the start of a continuing action. Psychology defines it further, to include the actions that follow, as the ability to be ready to act on opportunity without being prompted, told or forced. It is having the drive and the willingness to get things done. This includes taking responsibility even in the face of setbacks by being resourceful and coming up with a new course of action. In other words, it is being proactive rather than reactive.
“Happier are those who initiate than those who just watch the world go by.” So goes a familiar saying. To where does our life tip the scale? Pondering on the following traits of persons who lack the capacity or the motivation to initiate may help us assess whether we are prone to miss out on opportunities to improve our lives and on making a significant contribution to society:
- Procrastinate and fall behind.
- Need direction to get things done.
- Tend to resist work outside their immediate areas of responsibility – have a “that’s-not-my-job” mentality.
- Reactive rather than proactive. As a result, they get less things done and often end up in a mess.
- Cannot persevere. Easily give up on challenges.
- Do not plan ahead.
- Postpone decisions, miss opportunities and tend to be overly cautious, tentative and unwilling to take risks.
We can never bring back the past and probably some opportunities had slipped through our fingers. But one thing is for certain: opportunities will still come our way. We just have to seize the moment by acting on it. But are we ready for it? We are if we can identify ourselves with these characteristics of people who have the capacity to initiate and take action. They
- just don’t wait for opportunities to fall on their laps. They either grab or create them.
- pursue goals beyond what’s required or expected of them.
- cut through red tape and bend the rules when necessary to get the job done.
- inspire and move others to action through creative and enterprising efforts.
- are moved to act by internal motivation rather than by being forced to by external circumstances.
- they undertake challenging responsibilities not for the pay cheque but for the opportunity to do better and to get more from life.
- are consistent achievers and have the zest to experience new heights.
We should not wait on others to take our lives to where we wished it to be. We should develop that internal drive to carry ourselves to greater heights. Developing this capacity in us is an important determinant of success in our lives. We can start with the following developmental tips:
- Do not do for tomorrow what you can do for today. To get started and to mobilise yourself “chunk down” into manageable pieces whatever you need to do. That is, do things one step at a time.
- Be optimistic. Focus on the things you can achieve for the moment rather on what you can’t and why you can’t. Small steps of victory can actually inspire you to face greater challenges.
- Have time for an introspective analysis of your behaviour and attitude. Examine what’s holding you back: Frenzied work hours? Stress? Overwhelm? Resentment? A drive for perfection? Identify it and deal with the root cause.
- Try “time-boxing”. Allocate a set period of time to a task and see how far you get (“I will de-clutter my desk for 10 minutes” or “I will outline this report and write for one hour” or “I will answer email for 30 minutes”).
- Do the worst part of a job first and get it out of the way – the rest will be a breeze.
There is a long list of individuals who made their lives significant because they took the initiative to take charge of a situation. These are people who don’t just react over something but who act on what they feel. They make sure that their feelings are translated into their desired outcome. They are not just dreamers — they wake up and pursue the realisation of their dreams. These people are “doers”. They are out in the world going after what they want—creating opportunities, persisting in the face of challenges, and making things happen.
These are not extraordinary people. These are regular individuals who have triumphed over the status quo. What makes them different from the rest is their strong capacity to initiate and to take action which any individual can also develop through patience, persistence, perseverance and a positive outlook.
Why don’t you grab this opportunity to initiate changes in your life and be empowered to catch your dreams? It may just be your key to success. According to Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”:
The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritising your life around the most important things.
You may need a coach to assist you as you make your first steps. Contact us today.
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