We know the four steps to reaching our goals – accomplishing our purpose. We begin with a thought, we use initiative, take action and keep our momentum going until – we have a great accomplishment! Now we get the rewards for our efforts and taking the initiative. Some of the rewards are external – trophies, applause, accolades from others. Some of the rewards are internal – pride, confidence, gratitude and growth.
While it is gratifying when we receive the external rewards and others recognize our efforts and accomplishments, it is the internal rewards that we receive that teach us the most and can motivate us to continue taking the initiative. Our internal rewards come from the satisfaction we feel from completing a task that we find of value.
If we are a child, learning to tie our shoes may bring us great satisfaction. Parents can help encourage the internal satisfaction by praising the effort and pointing out the virtues needed to for this accomplishment. They may include perseverance, determination, commitment and patience. Once a child sees that they have these virtues they learn to use them in other parts of their life – school work, riding a bike, chores at home.
What if they then took the initiative to help someone they knew that was struggling with schoolwork or making friends. There internal satisfaction would stem from the virtues they were growing such as thoughtfulness, service, kindness, friendliness, even courage.
There are great rewards for appreciating the virtues we are growing in ourselves and our children as we take the initiative to learn new things, to serve others, to be helpful at home. The internal rewards will grow our knowledge, confidence and abilities – no matter what age we might be.
The four steps to completing an idea are thought, initiative, action, and momentum. Without those four steps, our idea, goal, dream is just an imaginary thought that will accomplish nothing outside of our own head. Other times we get the thought, initiate action, but then get stuck. We find it harder to get or keep momentum. There are five reasons our momentum can be halted.
- Fear. We can be scared by many things when we start on the road of action. Fear of success, failure, embarrassment or of what might be next.
- Procrastination. We keep putting off the next step with all kinds of excuses. Many times those excuses are based on one of the fears.
- Waiting for it to be perfect. Waiting for the perfect time to start. Waiting for the finished product to be just so. Not quite ready to put it out for others to see.
- Someone else has done it or will do it or do it better. We think to ourselves that someone else will do the job or that they would do it better. We may even ask ourself why we think we have the right to be the one to complete this idea.
- You do not want to do the work. Our thoughts or ideas are hard work, and we just do not want to do all that work, when things are comfortable for us at this time.
When we have an idea it is time to check in to see if it is a S.M.A.R.T. idea, one that we believe in enough that we are willing to put in the work to accomplish. The dreams we have are just things that we are thinking about. When we use our initiative and take an action step we have created a goal in our mind that we want to reach. When we are willing to persevere we are using momentum to reach our goal.
Reaching a goal or fulfilling an idea takes hard work, over a period of time, with great focus. In the end, taking these four steps can change our life.
“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult” is a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Initiative is when a thought is connected to action. It is when you think of something and then actually do something. So many people have ideas, a lesser number of individuals act on those ideas. When to start practicing initiative is when we are young.
How can young people show initiative? Here are a few examples:
- brushing your teeth keeps your teeth healthy
- exercising keeps your body strong
- eating healthy keeps you healthy
- studying can improve your mind
As a parent we can use the word “initiative” so that the child understands what they are doing and can then apply it later to other goals they may have. When the student gets older and has a report due in two weeks, they will understand that ‘initiative’ will get them started on the report early, instead of waiting until the night before.
Initiative can be shown in any goal that we might set for ourselves. Our goals though, need to be S.M.A.R.T., so that when we do show initiative, we stay motivated to complete our goal. When setting goals for ourselves or our family we will be sure that they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound.
Young or old, begin with yourself by taking action in your personal life. Once you have initiated some good habits there – you are ready to initiate actions to help others.
We will be talking about taking initiative with our students this month. Initiative is when we are willing to accept responsibiliy for taking action – and then doing so. In fact it may be an action or it may be on an idea that we have had. Many times getting that first step out of the way is the hardest. We can think of so many things that keep us from starting.
The most common though is fear. In fact for many fear has become such a habit that we nearly drown in it, having been conditioned to think that we are not good at something or we will be embarrassed or we will fail. Then we get into the habit of passing that fear of failure on to our children. For some, everytime their child moves they are very likely to scream, “Look out!” We do this to both our children and adult friends.
Imagine our first reaction if one of our friends told us they were going to quit their great job and become an actor. Our initial reaction would be to warn them of all the things that could go wrong. Now that sounds like a rather extreme example – but while we tell our children that they can be anything they want, and that today anything is possible – imagine how different the world would be if we actually believed that and we supported initiative and following your dreams.
We start by teaching our children how to show initiative. Initiative is taking action on ideas, tasks and chores without being told to do so by others. It is a combination of helpfulness, idealism, confidence, enthusiasm and commitment. Initiative is how we get things done and make progress on our dreams, goals and chores.
Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Initiative. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.
Young students: Initiative means: I’m a self starter!
Older students: Initiative means: Taking purposeful action that propels life forward without outside reminders.
We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with students on physical self defense skills, while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.
If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.
Being a leader means we take the initiative to achieve a goal that may be good for us as an individual or may be for the common good for a group of people, places or things. We may have a personal goal to learn a new skill or to work on our physical, mental, spiritual or social self. As we set out to reach our goal we recognize that we may not be able to reach that goal without the help of others. It may be that we need someone to coach us in one way or another. Reaching out for that help – accepting that help is a sign of personal leadership.
Many times though our goals are going to include others, as we work to reach a goal for the common good of others. At those time we realize that it is not just about us, it has to be about the group. So how do we get everyone on board with the groups goal. Part of it is to be sure everyone has input on the overall picture and then buys into the vision that we have for the outcome.
But then we must take the initiative and go after the goal. Being willing to step up and moving on items, delegating as needed, being sure that everyone understands their role in the groups activity, and the importance of each of the steps. I think about the need to praise and to keep the vision clear in the eyes of each member.
Stephen Covey put it this way to his son in regard to their lawn. The goal or vision was that the lawn was, “clean and green”. How he got to that point was up for him to decide, with help if he needed it. So it is with us in our groups have a clear goal – then allow team members the opportunity to use their initiative too.