Who ran off with your initiative?

Like millions of other people, I just started reading Seth Godin’s latest book, Poke the Box, which is his first foray into his new partnership with Amazon, The Domino Project, and the latest in his line of kick-you-in-the-pants reads.

This one covers the golden ticket that is initiative, on a personal level and as it extrapolates to teams and companies. Passion, energy, motivation, the internal push to try something new. (Rather than the great art of talking about it.) Every company wants it. Every manager wishes for employees who have it. Every person has tasted it and yearns for it when its gone.

Godin never hedges or waters down his message. As Godin puts it, “Poke the Box is about the spark that brings things to life. We need to be nudged away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Even if we fail, as I have done many times in my life, we learn what not to do by experience and doing the new. This isn’t the same thing as taking a risk. In fact, the riskiest thing we can do right now is nothing.”

I seem to be in initiative discussions lately. Maybe it’s my 40-something age or my work as a coach, but a lot of people I know are chasing down that elusive initiative. People ache for it. Initiative is tied with happiness — you need the push to keep learning and growing no matter the direction.

And yet, we’re partially scared of it. To get initiative means we have to face some hard questions and stop relying on blame and excuses.  

When we’re filled with initiative we give ourselves full credit. (I really made that happen! It was all me!) When we’re lacking, we tend to offer external reasons — my boss, my personal situation, my health, bad timing. The excuses  are well-known and endless.

So if you’re looking for the initiative to make a change, start a business, learn a new language, develop your company’s next big idea, find your true calling, or even figure out your next step, ask yourself:

What would I do now if I knew I’d be successful?

Take a minute and ponder that one. When you have an answer that actually excites you, read Seth’s book to drink some inspiration through the firehose.

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About kristihedges
Executive coach, leadership development consultant, Forbes.com blogger, Entrepreneur.com contributor, author of Power of Presence (AMACOM).

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