An important CEO decided to retire from his chocolate-making business empire that he had spent the past 40 years building. Gathering his two sons into the office, he announced that the younger son would take over with immediate effect.
The older son was so upset and didn’t understand why his younger brother would now be CEO of the family business. He questioned his father for hours asking why this was so.
Speaking to the older son, the father said: “Go out and find me an idea for a new chocolate flavour. Go to our suppliers and find out what new flavours we can invest in.”
The older son went off and returned proudly saying: “They can potentially supply us with new flavours including raspberry, coconut, and pistachio!”
Steve then asked the same of the younger brother who came back after a while saying: “They can definitely supply us with new flavours including raspberry, coconut, and pistachio. They said they would be willing to negotiate a cheaper deal with us if we invested more in the raspberry and coconut. They even said they were currently looking into new flavours which they will let us know about and negotiate a discount if we decide to bulk buy any new flavours they make.”
The father then turned to the older son and exclaimed: “That is why your younger brother is taking over the business.”
The Key To Success Is Initiative
What the story above shows is that most people don’t think outside the box. How many times do we sit at work and do exactly what we’re told, never deviating from instructions? We very often fall into this trap of doing the bare minimum to get by, but does this allow us to achieve success?
The answer is NO. Feeling the need to be managed in all areas and being told what to do restricts us of having influence in anything. Successful people are the ones who know things aren’t black and white – that a+b doesn’t automatically equal c. They are the ones that think of more efficient ways of doing things and show their out-of-the-box thinking to the people around them.
It’s all about being proactive rather than reactive. Being reactive can keep you stuck and stops you from moving forward – while this may be fine for some, if you want to get ahead and be more successful, being proactive will up the trajectory of this line propelling you to different heights. It’s about being active rather than passive and not letting things happen to you but rather creating your own path for opportunity.
How To Become A Proactive Initiator
If you find you’re stuck in a rut or you want to be more successful at work but you’re unsure of how to propel yourself forward, there are some habits you can adopt to not only help yourself, but ensure you’re being noticed by the people with influence on your career.
- Take ownership of your problems: Realise that no one is responsible for getting you where you want to be other than you. Adopt the mindset that it’s up to you to find the solutions to problems and own them. It’s all too easy to pass the blame or the responsibility onto someone else but thought process doesn’t lead to success.
- Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t: The reason many of us get stuck is because we end up focusing on things we can’t control which leads to frustration and the tendency to give up. By focusing on what you can control and coming up with solution-focused ideas you are much more likely to find a successful resolution and lead by example in the process.
- Use SMART goals: This is a favourite when it comes to reaching your goals and dreams. And implementing the SMART guidelines (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) in your career will put you in good stead when it comes to achieving what you want.
- Be consistent: It’s not about being proactive once or twice – making sure there’s consistency with your being proactive is key to getting noticed and stops you from reverting back to being reactive. Always think of ways that things could be done better or find other work that may need doing or would be beneficial to your boss.
When it comes to being successful, whether it’s in your career or any area of your life, it’s all about having the ability to have initiative. Waiting around for something to happen or being told how or when to do something means we are never truly in control of our outcomes. So remember to be proactive and use your initiative because this allows you to do more than required and open yourself up to better habits and more opportunities.