"I've always had confidence. It came because I have lots of initiative.
I wanted to make something of myself."
-- Eddie Murphy
Recently, I have given a lot of thought to the term initiative. What does it mean? How do we learn it? When and where should we use it? And more importantly, why are some people afraid to use it? I consider myself to be a pretty independent gal, trying to make my mark in this world and trying to make something of myself. As such, I feel that I do take a lot of initiative in my life, particularly in my work.
Many people have asked me how I have been able to foster such a great relationship with the two academic mentors that I have had. I truly believe that the greatest thing I have done is that I take initiative in my own graduate career and research. I am the type of person who loves to be involved in as much as possible. I will not sit around and wait for someone else to tell me what I should do, which classes I should take, and what I should be publishing at the moment. I also don’t wait around for someone to tell when I should complete something or to check and make sure that I have crossed all my “t’s” and dotted all my “i’s”. I am a pretty intelligent person who can figure out what the rules and regulations are and how I am expected to follow them.
So, when my fellow comrades get upset because they feel they have been wronged because they were not specifically told to do something, I just don’t know how to respond. I knew what we were supposed to do, you saw me doing it, why didn't you do the same? My philosophy has always been is that for every task you do: “You should always know the next step.” We cannot wait around for someone to tell us what we should do with our lives and our careers; rather we need to figure it out for ourselves. If you know without asking what the next step is, than jump on in and get started. If you are unsure of what you should be doing next, than I suggest taking the initiative to find out. We’re not always clairvoyant about what is expected of us; however, we cannot sit with our little hands in our little laps and wait for someone to walk past and tell us what to do! Inevitably, you will end up disappointing someone, getting yelled out, and then complaining about it later.
I suppose another way to look at initiative is that it is about taking responsibility for yourself. No one else can tell you what to do with your life. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who can help you and guide you, but only if you ask. Initiative has many forms and the simplest one is to just know what the next step is.