photo by hypertypos

Today, Seth Godin talks in his post about the differences between reacting, responding and initiating. He claims that most people react and respond most of time and don’t initiate enough. To quote the master himself:

“We tend to reserve the third bucket, initiate, for quiet times, good times, down times or desperate times. We wait until the inbox is empty or the new product lines are due (at which point the initiative is more of a response). It’s possible to spend an entire day blogging and twittering and facebooking and never initiate a thing, just respond to what’s coming in. It’s possible to spend an entire day at P&G (actually it’s possible to spend an entire career) doing nothing but responding… “

I have written in the past about setting aside “thinking times“. I explained how important it was to incorporate such times in a permanent manner into schedules.  What Godin talks about is the same phenomena. People save the thinking part, especially the one dealing with the future, to better times. To less busy times. To when we will not be under such a pressure. You know what, these times never come. This is why one of the last paragraphs of Godin’s post, got me thinking. This is the paragraph:

 “Think about the changes you’d have to make (uh oh, initiate) in your work day in order to dramatically change the quantity and scale of the initiatives you create”.

Godin is right (well off course he is…). If we focus all day long on our own rut, without taking our heads up form our desk (or screen), we would not be able to accomplish anything. So how can we initiate? I believe the answer lies in a blend of a number of ideas. Passion and “thinking time”. I already suggested a few ways (1, 2) to achieve the elusive goal of creating “thinking times”. I want to go for the wider point this time. In my E-book, “Playing It to Excellence and Happiness in Real Life – Five Concepts I Learned by Playing Basketball, Working and just Living”, I talk about how passionate people want to learn as much as they can about what they are passionate about and about how passionate people change their surroundings by casting doubt and creating new methods. I think you would be able to initiate the most, in areas you are most passionate about. I think you would not have to set aside thinking time to such areas, because – if you are passionate about something, you think about it all the time, and create thinking times naturally.

Some people would say their job is not that exciting and that there is nothing to initiate and change. They would argue that they job has nothing to be passionate about. “I work as a cashier in a supermarket. I am a cog.What can I change? What is there to be passionate about?” A lot! Think about it – have supermarkets been the same throughout history? What changed? Are there difference between supermarkets – what are they? If you are passionate about what you do and set a time to really think about how to make the most out of what you do, you can reach excellence and make a difference in any position. How will your manager react (and as Godin explains, he will react) when you come up with a new idea?

But what Godin says can be even more important. If you can’t take the initiative in your own work (lousy boss, no one listens to you etc.) do it someplace else. Develop a hobby. Volunteer. Taking the inititave by it self is important. In my E-book i call this – focusing on the process.  The minute you start setting aside thinking time, being passionate and initiating, only good things will happen to you. In the end, your attitude will move into you job or you will be presented with other better opportunities. People who are passionate and who initiate always have more choices.

BTW – is the post an initiative, a response or a reaction?


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