What it means to take the initiative

What it means to take the initiative

Resilience Centre

What it means to take the initiative

We are all aware of the expression “to take the initiative” and probably all of us perceive this to be a good thing, but what does it really mean to take initiative?

Initiative defined

Initiative is defined as “the power or courage to start a new process” and “enterprising ability”. The term “to take the initiative” is to take action to start something happening. In other, simpler words: taking initiative is to seize the power to make things happen.

Initiative = action

Well-known author and personal change expert Stephen Covey points out that taking initiative is not a negative action: “Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognising our responsibility to make things happen.”

Showing initiative is important. For example, people who want to find better employment should take the initiative by taking aptitude tests and studying the industry and specific organisations they are interested in. Then they should develop a presentation or adapt their CV, showing how their abilities can improve or help solve problems in an organisation.

Proactive people usually end up with the good jobs because they offer solutions to problems, seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles to get the job done.

Ways to take initiative anytime, anywhere

  • Do things without or before being asked or told
  • Don’t sit around idly or waste time. Focus on the job at hand and get it done
  • When your job is done, help others with their tasks with the same degree of enthusiasm as you have for your own job
  • Show interest in your work and your employer, and make this interest broader than just your specific job or field of speciality.

Covey, S.R. 1990. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Simon & Schuster
Oxford School Dictionary. 2004. Oxford University Press