“The world bestows its big prizes both in money and honors for but one thing,” says Elbert Hubbard, “and that is initiative. And what is initiative? I’ll tell you: it is doing the right thing without being told.”
“在这个世界上，只有一样东东可以不仅带来丰厚的金钱，也带来荣誉，”Elbert Hubbard 说，“这个东东就是主动性。什么是主动性呢？我告诉你，就是在没有被指使的情况下作正确的事情。”
Several days ago, a piece of news from ABC news amused everyone: a two-year girl called 911 and saved her mom’s life by saying “Mummy owie” after her mom suddenly lost consciousness. The proud mother said in the aftermath that, several months ago, she taught her daughter how to dial the phone and the meaning of several numbers. Astoundingly, the two-year little girl remembered it and used it properly. That is really amazing. It is a perfect example of initiative.
Doubtlessly, the above two-year girl is largely born of initiative without much after-birth cultivation. But that does not mean initiative only belongs to the few geniuses. Actually, our ordinary persons take initiatives in many aspects of our lives, if not all. A student could solve a mathematics problem by a different method from the usual way from his teacher, and that is initiative thinking; an employee could propose to his boss his own idea of cost cutting or take the “extra” action to fulfill customer demands even which is beyond his routine job scope, and that is also initiative taking; even when you successfully organized a birthday party for your friend, you were taking initiative. That is right, whenever you are doing the right thing without being told, you are taking initiative. And most of the times, the initiative comes from the “extra” thinking or action beyond the usually expected range.
My former boss once told me that the most important trait of an employee is taking initiative, breaking the boundary of the daily routine job scope and doing the small “extra” for the sake of the whole company and also for the fun of the job. But this small “extra” is hardly spotted in our work. Most of us do jobs just following what we are told to do, and we are too lazy to do a little extra which again is because we do not have the stimulus to do the little extra. Once I bought bread at the shop Breadtalk. When I cashed out at the counter, I was totally surprised by the sales girl’s icy voice uttered from her mouth on her expressionless face while she was calculating the total amount:” thank you for shopping with Breadtalk…have a nice day.” Once she finished the mechanical procedure to entertain me, and I did not get enough time to take the bread away from the counter, she was immediately playing with her hand phone just as if the customer was transparent. I really feel sorry about it. Apparently, the company has a complete training procedure, and every employee was trained quite well before s/he physically starts working (we can see it from the fact that the sales girl could recite the whole paragraph.) but what is the purpose of the company’s culture without employee’s initiative? It sometimes really causes negative sense to the customers. So what would companies do to stimulate employees’ initiative? That is a big task for companies. And we employees could wait and see what methods from the companies could motivate our initiative 😉
There are a lot of telemarketing calls these days. Most of the time, when I picked up the phone, the person at the other side would start to talk like reading a book of her/his product description and the voice is so neutral and so emotionless that I wondered whether s/he ever think I am a HUMAN or not? Very often, I would cut her/him off at the middle of her/his long lecture and say “I have no interest in it” before hang up the phone call. I am a little curious that s/he should take a proportion from her/his sales result, how come there is not any initiative showed in his/her work at all? I think twice about this issue. It is really easy to say than do. I myself tried to make such kind of cold calls before and I knew the uneasiness: nervousness before call making, fear of rejection, and frustration of failure. It would take some time to overcome the negative feelings before s/he could take it easy to think of initiative taking. However, how about trying to take initiative in the daily life so that make the daily life more interesting? It is very easy by changing the mindset. Every time we do something, give it a second thought to see whether there is any other method to make it better. Sooner or later, it becomes natural to take initiative in our daily life.
In summary, it is the companies’ big task to seek efficient ways to stimulate our employees’ initiative. For us ourselves, it is fun to change our mindset and take initiative in our daily life.