If you’re stuck at the starting line, you don’t need more time or permission. You don’t need to wait for a boss’s okay or to be told to push the button; you just need to poke.
Poke the Box is a manifesto by bestselling author Seth Godin that just might make you uncomfortable. It’s a call to action about the initiative you’re taking-– in your job or in your life. Godin knows that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative in most organizations (and most careers)-– the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.” -Amazon.com description
A study showed that when people are placed in a forest without a map, they end up walking in circles instead of taking a clear path. People need a map. Be brave enough to draw one for them.
Our culture has become more about waiting to be picked than stepping up and being a captain (ie: people being dependent on another person to employ them, not even considering the possibility of starting their own business.)
Just because you’re not a boss or an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you can’t take initiative. Organize meetings, parties, and other group initiatives. If your boss doesn’t encourage independent, self-directed action like this, your job sucks and you should actively seek a new one.
Calibrating your level of initiative is just like Jeopardy. Knowing how to use the buzzer is of the utmost importance – buzz too early and Alex won’t finish the question, but if you’re too unsure of yourself you’ll buzz in too late and someone else will have taken the points.
“Polishing” yourself for other people has an asymptotic effect. For example, having a shower every day improves your appearance dramatically, but having three showers a day does not make your appearance three times better. The moral here is that it is extremely inefficient to be overly preoccupied with “polishing.”
The guy who started the first Starbucks only sold coffee beans; he made a huge error in his business plan. But at least he started it. If he had been worried about it not working, it never would’ve even existed.
Having a success-only policy stifles creativity and risk-taking, because big, risky ideas fail most of the time (but they’re still worth it because when they do succeed, they SUCCEED.)
The rule of initiating is that if it cannot fail, it doesn’t count. Go all-in.
“Life is not about extinguishing fear. It’s about calling its bluff.”