SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Initiative — Seize opportunity, drive improvement
Consider the act of contribution--the part played by a person in bringing about a result. How are we contributing to the Air Force on a daily basis? How we contribute individually feeds team accomplishments and, more broadly, contributions to the Air Force mission and our country. In our personal lives we can ask the same question. How do we contribute to our relationships and our families to make them better?
What drives contribution? We can relate this to an appetite for getting things done and making things better and more succinctly, one’s initiative to act on something. How does our personal initiative or lack thereof, influence our work-centers and our personal lives? Furthermore, how we view initiative on a performance scale may lend itself to being viewed as average or above average. Do we have that internal drive to take action and make things more efficient or faster, cheaper, better?
Initiative, as defined in Merriam-Webster, can be broken down into three main parts:
1. “Opportunity to do something before others do”
Opportunity. Opportunity is seizing the moment to do something--most commonly, fixing a problem the team has encountered. Having a problem (positive-minded individuals see this as the opportunity) is the starting point. The spectrum of impact is broad, it could be a simple work-center improvement, checklist modification, fixing a safety hazard, and finding a networking solution, or as broad as implementing the Space Mission Force vision and everything in between. In our personal lives, it could be taking a financial management class, finishing our degree or working on our personal relationships with a new approach.
The second half of this “before others do,” relates to one’s drive (the core) and pushing our work-center, squadron, group or wing forward or making ourselves better in some way, relentlessly, even being unreasonable at times, if the opportunity we identified requires that. Ultimately, the result can impact the masses for good if the fix warrants sharing, and many do. Look around, opportunities are everywhere in our work-life and in our personal life, the equation remains the same, which is taking action to fix a problem and improving our situation.
2. “The energy and desire that is needed to do something”
Energy and desire (the core). This is the inner drive (determination) we have to get it done--the hunger piece. Have we truly internalized the need and made the conscious decision to act on something and finish it? Often, the most significant challenge is just getting started. Once started, we gain momentum which gets stronger until we have completed the task. Momentum mixed with determination is an awesome combination.
3. “A plan or program that is intended to solve a problem”
Lastly--the plan. How do we get there? We have a great idea for change, how do we act upon it and are we ready for setbacks? Formulating a plan can vary in complexity based on the problem we are trying to fix. Write the plan with the goal up-front. Figure out the support, resources and time it will take before moving forward.
“Success comes to the person who does today what you were thinking about doing tomorrow.”--Unknown
We need to ask ourselves “How do we contribute?” Do we drive improvement or are we standing on the side-lines watching things happen around us? Are we making things better and identifying problems instead of simply performing on an average scale? The underpinnings of success are rooted with ingenuity, motivation and drive, both in work and in our personal lives. We should attack the opportunities around us with energy and formulate the solution with a sound plan. We need to push and pull our teams forward by making everything around us better by having a positive mindset and taking action. Initiative and contribution are critical to making the team stronger, especially in our Air Force, where we rely on everyone’s talents and ideas. Our success depends on it.