Good Things Come to Those Who Initiate
I bet you know the person we’re about to describe.
He/she is dissatisfied with the way things are in the office and feels compelled to let you know - repeatedly.
Day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, they’re:
- upset with the boss,
- frustrated with co-workers,
- certain they are getting the short end of the stick,
and remarkably, not compelled to do anything about it.
We’ve always been baffled by co-workers like this. It’s as if they’ve turned over their career to everyone around them and are later miffed that things aren’t going their way.
While this is an extreme (but very real) example, we’ve found variations of these same symptoms in many ambitious and otherwise successful people. In fact, we have had seasons in our own careers where we began to spin in the self-pity cycle.
So why is it that people fall into the “good things happen to those who wait” mentality?
There are a lot of reasons.
- Lack of formal career development opportunities
- The boss never asks about their aspirations
- Absence of mentors
- Complacency: doing nothing is easier than doing something
- Self-doubt and fear of failure
It’s sad because it’s a recipe for career disaster that should be avoided at all costs.
Good things come to those who initiate
You’ve already initiated many aspects of your professional journey. You went to school, picked up a degree or two, perhaps some professional designations. You applied for jobs and were hired. You get the picture.
You made it this far, so why not go further?
What is it that you’re looking to accomplish? Are you hoping to build a new skillset? Get experience in working with a new type of software? Try your hand at leadership? Find a new job?
When you initiate you make conscious choices to move in the direction of your aspirations
It’s the difference between being the driver or the passenger.
The passenger can sit back and relax, take in the scenery or take a nap - but they have no control over how long it will take to arrive at the destination - or if they arrive at all.
The driver, on the other hand, can choose the scenic route or the freeway, elect to stop at every roadside attraction or drive straight through. She may be tired when she arrives but she will have driven the course of her choosing to the destination of her choice.
So, you can hope someone will hand you an opportunity, or you can take steps to make that thing you’re looking to accomplish actually happen. And there are lots of ways to do that.
- Communicate with your manager and peers. They were not hired to be mind-readers. If you don’t make your interests known, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will figure it out and be able to help you.
- Make a plan and write it down. This is critical when your goal is something bigger and more multifaceted like earning a promotion or finding a new job. Once your plan is written, ask a mentor or someone you respect professionally to review and discuss it with you. You’ll not only get feedback but the act of sharing it will make your goal seem real and less ephemeral.
- Have an open attitude. An interesting thing happens when you begin to initiate. As you take action to move in the direction of your goal, others begin to respond, sharing ideas and information. And sometimes, if you’re open, the conversations that ensue lead to new opportunities.
- Believe in yourself. You made it this far, of course you can go further. We all have self-doubt. Nobody likes to fail. Push through all of that and initiate - and don’t ever stop.
One of our most trusted mentors told us long ago that choice not chance determines your destiny. “What are you waiting for?” she said to us, “Get busy doing it!”
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