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How To Take More Initiative
…Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

The truth is some people live their whole lives taking no initiative whatsoever, and waiting for someone else to tell them what to do.

They’re like the people who James Albery’s wrote about when he said:

“He slept beneath the moon, he baked beneath the sun. He lived a life of going-to-do; and died with nothing done.”

However, I know that YOU are not like that because you’re reading this right now. Nonetheless, we all lack initiative once in a while. Life, work, and relationships can get us down. And we just don’t feel like doing anything about it some of the time.

Well, you can’t sit around waiting for your feelings to change. That’s a dangerous path to pursue. Instead, you must have a resiliency skill set ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Let me give you a few tips right now … to increase your initiative, resiliency, bounce-back-activity.

1. Let go of your past.

Don’t be paralyzed by it. No matter how much adversity you’ve gone through; don’t let it kill off your initiative. After all, everyone goes through adversity.

But it’s the champions in life who keep on taking initiative despite their adversities. When things go wrong, they tell themselves to “Get over it!”

That’s exactly what I did when I lost my mother, my first wife and daughter all on the same weekend.

I could have gotten bitter and let it ruin my life, but I remember sitting down, alone, in my empty house, and literally telling myself I had to get over it.

2. Stay open to new ideas.

Whatever made you successful in the past is fine and dandy. But chances are … those same things will not be enough to keep you successful in the future. You need to stay open to new ideas … which will keep your initiative red hot … at the same time you learn some things that will make your life, work, and relationships better.

I hope you are open to new ideas. I hope you are teachable.

As Dr. J. Konrad Hole says: “If you cannot be teachable, having talent won’t help you. If you cannot be flexible, having a goal won’t help you. If you cannot be grateful, having abundance won’t help you. If you cannot be mentor-able, having a future won’t help you. If you cannot be durable, having a plan won’t help you.”

Make sure you’re open to new ideas … that you’re teachable.

3. Keep on reading.

And most people don’t. Oh they may read a newspaper, a magazine, or a romance novel, but that kind of reading will seldom, if ever, build your character, fuel your initiative, or give you greater success. I’m talking about some serious reading that will improve your life and assure your future.

Unfortunately, only one-third of adults read an entire book after graduation. They view learning as an event instead of a process. And they view reading as a PERIOD in life rather than a WAY of life. So it’s no wonder they lack initiative and don’t go as far as they could.

Sidney J. Harris, the journalist, commented on how differently successful and unsuccessful people view learning. He noted, “A winner knows how much he still has to learn, even when he is considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others, before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.” It’s a matter of attitude and initiative.

The Roman scholar Cato had both. When he was 80 he started to study Greek. When asked why he was tackling such a difficult task at this age, he replied, “It’s the earliest age I have left.”

If you will take initiative to keep on reading, you will increase your income by 230%. Now that sounds outlandish, but according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor and from a survey by Yahoo, business people who read at least seven business books a year earn over 230% more than people reading only one book a year.

4. Do more than is expected.

Don’t ever do just enough to get by. Do more than is expected. Show some initiative.

Such was the case in ancient times. A king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many others never understood. The big prizes always go to those who take the most initiative.

The peasant took the initiative to do more than the bare minimum. He didn’t settle for less when more needed to be done. And neither should you. As author Dan Kennedy says, “What you are willing to accept is what you get.”

One of the critical elements in the success formula is INITIATIVE … getting out of bed each morning and getting out … roaring to accomplish something. So go ahead. Do it! Do it right!! And do it right now!!!

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success, Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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