How to take initiative within proper limits?


Have you ever, when sitting down on a bench next to a stranger, toyed with the idea of conversing with him or her, only to keep putting it off in the hope that he or she might break the ice and start up the conversation?

“What should I say”, you may have kept asking yourself. 

Meantime the opportunity passed and was finally lost.

Or do you recall the many opportunities of getting to know your next door neighbor slipped away because you did not speak up when you had the chance?

It may be good to ask yourself, "How is my initiative?"

Why show initiative?

Some have the idea that if one is not gifted with initiative, one simply does not have it.

But is this necessarily so?

Should not learning and training equip one to exercise initiative under varying circumstances?

Lack of initiative is revealed in the tendency to seek the easy way out.

One tends to get in a comfortable groove and stays there.

Thus, one is likely to always lean upon someone else to suggest a move or make the first move.

It is observed that those who lack to show initiative never get farther than dreaming about what might have been.

For example, as we have seen from the onset, it also involves initialing conversation and the telling others what you feel.

But you might be thinking:

“Who? Me? Oh, I could never do that! Approach strangers and talk to them about my feelings? Never!”

However, it is expected that, if you feel deeply enough about certain matters you should be taking the initiative to speak to others about your ideas.

If you are dealing with shyness problems you could start to talk to members of your own family, and in this way grow in the ability to speak effectively to others.

The point is, there has to be a start made somewhere along the line.

It takes initiative to get going.

It is the quality that often determines whether we are going to continue indefinitely in some undesirable situation or not.

It calls for more than just thought.

It demands action to move ahead without constant prodding by others.

In fact those who show good initiative, who do not depend hour by hour on someone telling them what to do, are in demand.

They are the ones chosen for greater responsibilities.


This is because employers cannot be with each one under their supervision every hour of day, telling them when and how to do things.

On other hand, it is not that one has to be forward aggressive, inclined to taking things into one’s hands.

For here there is danger of overstepping one’s authority.

Then, why is it important to know your proper limits of exercising initiative?

Why know your limits?

Initiative is exercised to excess when we unnecessarily interfere in the affair of others or take to ourselves authority that is not rightly ours.

For example, there is a case of a man as reported in the media, who met his death just because he sought to intervene in a quarrel between two armed men.

Certainly, an ordinary citizen is not expected to assume duties of a police officer.

Under this grave circumstance he should have shown initiative by informing the proper authorities promptly.

What about taking initiative in the workplace?

If you decide to change the method of operation laid down by your employer merely because you feel like it, you may be viewed as disobedient.

It is important to appreciate that in any firm there is a framework of established policy within which every employee must remain.

This does not mean to loaf around and do nothing because a supervisor is not present to direct the next mode of operation.

You can usually find some necessary job to do until such a time as you are able to check with you superior.

If you hit upon a novel idea for expediting your work that involves changing the work policies, it would not be wise to take matters into your own hands and put the idea into operation.

It would be better to show initiative by offering the idea as a suggestion to your employer and leaving it to him or her to decide it merits.

Thus, it can be seen from the examples above that proper initiative requires the proper balance.

It has to be exercised within proper limitation, inside the field of action to which one is properly assigned.

However, real benefits can results from exercising initiative.

Your own self-respect will increase and others will have higher regard for you.

So by all means, build up your initiative, but within the right limits.