Personal Initiative – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!
by Tricia Blair
According to Andrew Carnegie, there are two types of people in the world who will never amount to anything. The first is the one who will give only what is asked for or demanded to get a job done. The second is the person who cannot even do what is required to get the job done. In my opinion, there is a third type of person who will have great difficulty achieving anything of lasting importance to themselves, or anyone else – that is the person who does not use good judgment or common sense when practicing personal initiative. Just as personal initiative, performed with logic and common sense will place a person ahead of the crowd, when practiced with poor judgment and a lack of discretion, personal initiative can be a dangerous, even destructive force.
Recently, a person I know well asked if I had any contacts in Costa Rica that could assist her with a small project preparing some goods for international shipping. She asked me due to my having spent last year there and knowing a good many people with various skill sets. As it happened, I did indeed have a friend whose skills and integrity I trust, in the exact location needed to get the job done. After reaching out to him and briefly describing what was required, my friend accepted the job. Detailed instructions were sent as to exactly how the project should proceed and exactly what materials were required to meet the specifications for transport on cargo ships. I never gave the situation another thought as I was certain I had placed my trust wisely. BUT, my friend chose to employ personal initiative and sub-contract the project out to someone he thought was a shipping expert.
The person he chose, employed personal initiative to prepare the goods in a completely different manner than what had been described. Upon review, it was discovered that the job wasn’t acceptable and the goods had to be completely reworked to meet shipping standards. The subcontractor demanded more money to compensate him for the additional time (his demands were refused) – even though it had been his ill use of personal initiative and poor judgment which caused the situation. The situation has been uncomfortable at best. Had my Costa Rican friend checked with me prior to hiring someone else to complete the task, I surely would have dissuaded him from that course of action. My relationship is with him and it was to him that the opportunity was extended.
Although my friend’s intentions were good, his ill use of personal initiative coupled and compounded with the poor decision making and incorrect employment of personal initiative of the third party turned what should have been a simple, straight-forward task into an event which has stressed our friendship and most assuredly affected my desire to reach out to him in the future for opportunities – not to mention that my reputation as a trusted source to my friend here in the states is not looking that great right now.
Personal Initiative is one of the cornerstones of the 17 principles of success. Without it, creation of your Definite Major Purpose and your goals couldn’t take place. Take away Personal Initiative and we lack that spark which ignites and fuels many of the other principles. In practicing the principle of Personal Initiative, we develop and enhance our mastery of other necessary components of Dr. Hill’s philosophy of success including; Going the Extra Mile, Enthusiasm, Applied Faith and maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude. However, it must be said once again, that Personal Initiative needs be exercised with generous helpings of sound judgment, discretion and Accurate Thinking. The story illustrated above is a small example of Personal Initiative without proper direction.
Napoleon Hill has said that one of the benefits of Personal Initiative is that “it will reveal to you your short-comings and then help you to correct them”. Also, when exercised, Personal Initiative promotes our willingness to accept full responsibility for the mistakes of subordinates. For myself, I have learned not to assume that a project is proceeding as planned just because I have done my part and that my responsibility extends to a successful completion when I have made the recommendation of a particular person or service.
Employing the habit of Personal Initiative helps pave the way for all the other principles of success. Just remember to engage your logic, common sense and discretion for best results!
Go out and be EXTRA-Ordinary!