Taking Initiative

Taking Initiative

Initiative is the one characteristic that distinguishes a seat-filler from a great employee. They get paid to come in and leave at the same time, to do only what is specifically listed in their job description, and to never have a new or innovative idea. As a manager, an employee without initiative is the equivalent of being given a $200 million winning lottery ticket -- two days after the ticket expires. In other words, it sucks.

How can you identify these people? They say things like, “That’s not my job.” If you give them a project, they won’t work on it or turn it in unless you give them a specific deadline. In short, they don’t do anything unless you ask them to.

Imagine if the office had a fire and they had a fire extinguisher on their desk. As the entire office is on the street watching the flames and smoke bellow out of the windows, their response to why they didn’t put out the tiny fire in the microwave would be, “You didn’t ask me if I had a fire extinguisher.”

In a relationship, a person without initiative can be just as irritating. Remember the cartoons from childhood? A person is dying of thirst in the desert and just when they can’t take it anymore, they see a lake full of crisp, blue water. Just as they are getting close, it turns out to be a mirage. The lack of initiative in a mate is just that: an illusion of a real partner. Just when you think you have someone to help you out, be your better half, make decisions, and help with the chores, you don’t. You have a person instead of a partner.

Think about whether you would want your potential mate as a co-worker or business partner. Because at the end of the day, running a household is a business. The bills need to be paid on time, the laundry needs to be done, the house needs to be cleaned, and food needs to be on the table. Beyond that, there will always be things that come our way that are not explicitly in our job description. Our parents get old, relatives pass away, illness and disease happens. If your mate can barely handle the here and now, how can you expect them to handle the unknown issues and dilemmas that will definitely come your way?

Whether the situation is professional or personal, we all have to decide whether we are okay being (or being with) a seat warmer or an illusion of a partner. The choice is ours.