This is the next part of our commentary on the values and themes that keep any workplace running. Just to review, last week’s edition was about how efficiency fits into any business operation. Right, now let’s get started on part 5.
TH FIFTH CONSTANT: INITIATIVE
Everything has to start from something. And nothing starts from nothing.
Aside from deeper contemplation of the meaning of those words, we are generally aware that events have beginnings, and that those beginnings must come some time before the end. But what we often forget is that there can be no beginnings if there are no people willing to start.
So how much value does initiative have in the workplace?
Having a beginning or starting point indicates the existence of a plan. Plans outline the flow of events from beginning to desired end. Of course, only the stages of the plan that are being worked on can be controlled, and stages that have not yet come to pass cannot be controlled at all. However, outcomes can be influenced through specific actions in the beginning.
To see how this works, consider the simple action of saving money as an example. Saving money to buy a non-necessity or a luxury item is the plan. The person saving the money has no control on the price of the item, but can influence their ability to buy the item by saving enough money.
In the same way, desired business outcomes are not automatically granted to those who make plans to achieve them. However, planners can use the first and interceding stages of their plan to make the desired outcome more likely to happen. And the most important preparations take place at the beginning of each plan.
Of course, if there is no one on the team or even in the organization who is willing to take the lead, the plan will remain just that: a plan without execution.
There are certain difficulties involved in starting. There is always the fear of failure; and that fear is magnified when at the forefront of a particular project. There is a feeling of greater responsibility for the outcome of the task. The expected reaction to any failure is within the range of “we should never have started this in the first place”.
The simple truth is that no undertaking is completely without risk. Risk is inherent in anything dependent on both controllable and uncontrollable variables. Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be prepared for and made less likely to trigger unwanted events. And even when risk does mess up the results despite the best preparations, the damaging effects can still be minimized as long as professionals take specific and deliberate action.
It takes strength of will to begin. The possibilities of failure can be very daunting, but the opportunities for success very rewarding. Any journey of growth, development, progress and prosperity has to start somewhere, and initiative is the spark that can ignite that engine and burn down the barriers.