Archive for October, 2012



My blog is coming out a day late as I was stranded in Jamaica for an extra two days because our flight home from vacation was grounded due to Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, we were safe and far enough away from the direct impact of the hurricane, and were forced to enjoy two extra days of vacation! Lol! So we got home yesterday and the whole day was consumed by unpacking, grocery shopping, and cleaning, etc.

But I didn’t want to simply leave out the blog I was supposed to publish yesterday on taking initiative. It seems like an important issue to me, as many people out there wrestle with drive, determination, and taking initiative.

Some people seem naturally ‘gifted’ at having incredible drive and determination to make their life successful in all areas of life, while others seem to wrestle with the basic will to live. Most of you are somewhere in between. Those of you somewhere in the middle to low category of having personal or professional initiative may feel as though initiative itself is in fact a ‘gift’ that you don’t have. Let me quickly debunk that theory. While it may be true that initiative and determination may come to others seemingly more natural than it comes to you, it is not unattainable for you. There are those who believe common sense cannot be learned by someone who just doesn’t have it, the same is NOT true for initiative. It is a skill that can be crafted and developed and nurtured throughout the remainder of your life! It is NOT unattainable! It is within your reach!

If you are not naturally a ‘doer’ in life, you can learn the skills of motivation to determine a vision for yourself, life or business that is attainable and realistic, define your goals and communicate your objectives in a way that drives you to accomplish them.

What you may not know, is that drive, determination, willpower and learning to take initiative has a lot to do with learning your personal power. The more autonomy you have learned to develop in your life, and the more purpose you feel you have in life, the more you will master the skills at accomplishing your vision for your life. For more on autonomy, read my blog series on boundaries from several months back. Autonomy has to do with personal power. A sense of oneself and who he or she is apart from other’s and their opinions. I lay claim to the concept that the more a person was treated as someone who could not achieve or was taught to be an underachiever, or was taught that they weren’t pod enough or smart enough in their formative years, will wrestle with self worth and initiative, in part, due to a lack of autonomy that was modeled for them. The good news is… It’s never too late! Learning how to develop a good sense of self worth, and how to develop healthy boundaries will set you up for learning how to feel good enough about yourself and responsible enough for yourself to equip you to develop the skills of assertiveness and initiative – the drive to dream, and reach for the goals you set for yourself! It IS attainable!

Are you aware that accepting and taking responsibility for your actions is not only part of the process of learning how to take initiative, but is part of developing self esteem, and having proper boundaries in your life? Once we know what we are responsible for in life, it empowers us to take responsibility for our life which becomes the driving force to develop true initiative. The better we think, believe and behave in the ways which empower us to achieve our goals, the more self confident we become, we are that much closer to achieving our goals, personal or professional, one action step at a time.

Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Habits are another key then to learning how to take initiative. Eg. If we repeatedly are lazy, we will continue to be lazy because it has become a habit. Habits can either make us or break us. We can develop good habits or bad habits. All stem from our own personal power of choice. Many of us think of habits as ‘bad’ and can list a number of the habits they have that they don’t like about themselves quite readily… But there are good habits too. You can decide to eat a healthy diet as easily as you choose to eat an unhealthy diet. You can choose to exercise regularly. It is within your personal power to choose. If you feel you are powerless over a situation, you may have an addiction. But even addictions can be broken by the power of habit. All habits (good or bad) are formed in our brains involving cue, routine and reward. We can change our bad habits over time by repeatedly doing something different until that becomes a new habit. We can replace bad habits with healthy, positive ones, giving us the power to take control over the ‘out of control’ areas of our lives.

Changing our habits is another way to take initiative. It helps us determine who or what we want to be – fit, healthy, successful, whatever the goal is, knowing is half the battle. Knowing you have power over your decisions and can take action to reach your goals and dreams, empowers you to take the first steps toward lasting change.

If you struggle with low self worth or feel you need additional help in developing more personal motivation or initiative in your life, you might want to consider my boundaries or personal development coaching program offered at http://www.freedomlifelove.com

Remember: You have the power to choose the life you want. Go out and get it! Most of our blockages are stubborn belief systems in our minds that cause us to believe we can’t, or we are not good enough, talented enough or smart enough. When we change the internal negative messages into positive ones that invoke hope and strength and willpower, we equip ourselves with the strength to break old unhelpful habits and take responsibility for our lives by loving and nurturing and caring for ourselves enough to break out of routines that keep us back from reaching our goals, we have just started the process of taking initiative, and are closer to getting the results we want. Remember to keep your goals realistic and attainable so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with your very first goal, concluding that it doesn’t work. What is an attainable goal for you right now? What action steps can you take right now toward reaching that goal?

Good luck on your journey to getting the results you want. Where there is no vision, people perish. Find your vision. It’s a good place to start!

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This month, I have been doing a series on taking initiative and developing assertiveness, and I was thinking it might be a great start to today’s article, if I simply start out with some definitions of initiative and assertiveness, so we have a proper working knowledge of what I will be referring to in today’s blog!

First of all, initiative involves taking an introductory act or step, a leading action; for example: he took the initiative in making friends. Initiative also involves a readiness and ability in initiating action. It is one’s personal, responsible decision: to act on own’s own initiative.

Perhaps you feel you have little or no initiative or you have been told this by people in your life. Does reading the above simple definition change your thinking on that definition, even if only slightly? Perhaps you are told you are not assertive enough and wonder if either taking initiative or developing assertiveness skills are ever possible for you. Let me first shine the light of truth on that negative distorted belief. EVERYONE can develop the skill of assertiveness and learn to take more initiative in their life. It involves work, and one small baby step forward after another, if that is all you feel you can muster the strength for, but it can be done. Before I get WAY ahead of myself, let me give you a definition of assertiveness:

Assertiveness is a style of communication. It is about being confident and self assured, positive. Assertiveness is NOT a strategy to get your own way, instead it recognizes that you are only in control of your own behavior and actions and realizes that other people are responsible for their behavior. It respects the wishes of others as equally as you respect your own.

Assertiveness is one of many styles in which we communicate with each other. Some others include reacting and responding to other people in an aggressive manner, or a passive style that tends to give in to the unreasonable demands of others. We all have heard of the passive-aggressive style, which is a combination of both passive and aggressive behavior which can include manipulation, or cannot clearly express their anger, but take it out on others in more subtle ways, like being late for work always because you are angry at your co-worker or boss, or addressing your displeasure with a result by speaking to the person you are angry with in the third person format, for example: “some people NEVER take out the trash and clean up after themselves” with a slightly aggressive tone, when they are obviously referring to you as you see the dishes you left in the sink, and know you hadn’t gotten around to taking the garbage out. This is a form of veiled communication. Often, if we are raised with one passive parent and one aggressive parent, we may use a combination of both skill sets we were taught by our families. Another style of communicating, apart from assertiveness, is the alternator…. Someone who sometimes is passive, holding things in, until one day all the bitterness and resentments burst to the surface like a volcanic eruption with a burst of aggression. Once the person has spewed out their building tension inside, they may return to a passive state of taking resentments in until the next eruption occurs.

The reality is we all have probably used one or more, if not all of these methods of communication at varying times in our lives! I know I have!

When it comes to communication, and developing effective skills to communicate well, as with all things it takes time and effort to make the changes in ourselves to do so! And the issues lying beneath the surface are the best place to start. What we believe often dictates how we respond in a situation. If we believe no one likes us, we will begin to act like no one likes us. If we believe we have to take responsibility for other people’s actions, behavior, moods or emotions, guess what? We will take responsibility for those things, despite the fact that we are only responsible for our own choices, actions, behavior, moods and emotions.

If you believe you are a loser, a failure, ugly, stupid, fat etc. you will act in such a way as to diminish your human dignity and incredible value as you continue to tell yourself what a horrible person you must be. I do not have enough time to dig into the root issues that lead to a diminished sense of a lack of confidence in oneself in this blog, or why your initiative may be low as well as your assertiveness skills perhaps under-developed, but I do offer a personal development program on my coaching website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com if you are looking for additional help in this area of your life. You may even want to look back through last months blog series where I discussed self worth and self esteem.

But my focus for today is to define initiative and assertiveness and our communication styles to open our eyes to see where we currently find ourselves in this area of our lives. And I want to give you some hope along with some practical help to develop some assertiveness skills today!

Let’s start here. This is what it means to be assertive:

“Assertive self-expression is direct, firm, positive – and when necessary persistent – action intended to promote equality in person-to-person relationships. Assertiveness enables us to act in our own best interests, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others, and to express our feelings honestly and comfortably (eg. affection, love, friendship, disappointment, annoyance, anger, regret, sorrow)” – Your Perfect Right by Robert Albert, Ph.D and Michael Emmons, Ph.D.

Joseph Wolfe would define assertiveness in our interpersonal relationships as

“The individual places himself first, but takes others into account.”

While I don’t entirely agree with his perspective, as I take the viewpoint of considering others above myself in a respectful manner, in the form of honoring and preferring others, I do believe that to love others we must first be able to love ourselves. The bible suggests that we:

“Love others as you would love yourself”

I believe we must treat others as we would want to be treated, thereby having a balanced perspective on equality. We do not see others as less or more important than ourselves, but rather cherish our own humanity and others. To see ourselves in a positive light with grace for our weaknesses and compassion and love for ourselves as we see others in that same positive light, showing compassion and love for their mistakes, treating each other fairly, respectfully, and with loving kindness. When we can see other people like this, as well as ourselves, we are on the verge of discovering unconditional love.

On becoming more assertive, there are certainly things that we can do to get there. Setting reasonable goals for ourselves is a good place to start about the things we want to improve, work on, confront or address. It can involve learning effective communication skills. In fact I think I did a blog series on that a while back! It involves learning how to “say what you need to say” as I unintentionally quote lyrics from John Meyer’s song, while learning how to say it effectively in an assertive, yet respectful manner. It involves learning to change what we are choosing to think, to become more aware of our thoughts, and challenging the negative ones, and speaking positive confessions about ourselves, learning to love and care for, rather than sabotaging ourselves! Just simply choosing to believe it is a skill you can learn can make a world of difference. It is a big step in the turn-around! If we believe it is attainable, we have already begun taking initiative to develop assertiveness skills!

Last but not least, take it one step at a time! Find what you feel you are able to start with, even if it feels like a small step to others or yourself, and see what comes of it! Don’t despair! Don’t give up! You can make changes! You are not helpless! I believe you can! One small step at a time!


I was supposed to blog on Wednesday, but ended up being way to busy to get to my blog 😦

So today, before i write today’s blog on taking the initiative – developing assertiveness, I am simply updating you that I will not be blogging next Wednesday or Friday, as my husband and I will be away on a MUCH needed vacation! The goal is simply to take a break from all the busyness of life and just simply avoid technology and work as much as possible! I firmly believe that our bodies need rest to recover from the busyness of today’s lifestyles!

I know what prolonged periods of stress can do on our bodies, to wear us out from over-exerting ourselves, trying to do more than is humanly possible on any given day! I believe in balance. A healthy balance of healthy living. I admit, when I’m on the go too much, I cave under time constraints and end up eating a lot less healthy than my body requires! This only contributes to the problem more! My goal is to get back in balance with getting enough rest, finding time for the gym, and eating healthier, taking breaks, enjoying my life, spending time with friends and family, and develop a healthy work life balance! This is one of the things I hope getting away on vacation will help me with… To reorient myself and get back into a healthy groove! (Not to mention the amazing Holiday we have planned!!!)

So our vacation plan is to head south to Montego Bay Jamaica!!! My hubby and I leave next Wednesday and will be back the following Wednesday! Sooo looking forward to this!!

This means that I will not be blogging while I am away.

But I hope to blog about my vacation once I’m back and fill you in on our trips & post some pics for you!

Stay tuned! My next blog, today’s blog on assertiveness, is coming shortly!

Have a great weekend!

Taking Initiative


The dictionary defines taking initiative as “to do something; to activate oneself to do something even if one has not been asked to do it.

In the workplace, these following criteria mark a person having high initiative:

-Begin new tasks before you are told
-Look for work to fill spare time
-Making oneself available for extra work or overtime
-Keeping communication with superiors open
-making suggestions
-Trying to correct problems or mistakes
-working without supervision
-Taking on extra tasks
-volunteer for committee work
-demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

Some common causes of a lack of initiative and motivation include:

-Lack of faith or confidence in your abilities
-Low self esteem
-Lack of enough interest in what you are directing your attention toward
– fear of what others might say
-procrastination habits
-time constraints
-being too stressed or anxious
-absence of stimulus or incentives

My first piece of advice is, if this is you, try to determine WHAT you are passionate about. Where there is no vision, the people perish! We don’t pursue what we are not passionate about… At least not long term. If we are doing something we have no zeal for, we will eventually be depleted in our energy resources to complete the task at hand. We may even begin to suffer the signs of burnout from putting all our energy into something that depletes not only our energy, but possibly our self-esteem.

I believe in takes motivation to take initiative. I also believe that assertiveness is linked to taking initiative as well. So my second question to you is this: “What motivates you?” and “what are you motivated to do?”‘

So let’s take a look at the fear factor that causes us to second guess our actions and keeps us from taking initiative.

Some of us are wrestling with being people pleasers, obsessed with fear of confrontation, of being reprimanded, or rejected in areas they risk taking the initiative in some area of their life.

Often people with low self worth feel it harder to take initiative than those who grew up very self sufficient & independent . These people have their own set issues as a result too, as we all learn by our environment and it’s surroundings, and by the people we do life with.

I propose a plan of action that just might help! It’s called ‘assertiveness’.

“Assertiveness is not a strategy for getting your own way. Instead it recognizes that you are in charge of your behaviour and that YOU decide what you will or will not do…it recognizes that other people are in charge of their own behaviour and does not attempt to take that control from them. When we behave assertively, we are able to acknowledge our thoughts and wishes honestly, withiut the expectation that others will give to us. We express respect for the feelings and opinions of other’s without necessarily adopting’ their opinions or doing what they expect or demand.”

This does not mean we become inconsiderate of the wishes of other’s either of course.

What we need come away with, thinking about, is: what is at the ore? What is the root reason why I wrestle with taking initiative? Is it lack of self worth? A developmental boundary injury, fear of confrontation, self hatred or self punishment? What keeps us from stepping up to the plate? Is it a learned behaviour or a medical diagnosis of depression, or anemia or low adrenals or insomnia that keep us tired all the time that affects our motivation level? Could it be we are putting our energy into something that is depleting us, rather than something that brings us joy? Who do you surround yourself with? Who are your friends and co-workers? What is the environment like around these people? Are they positive or negative influences? Are you being sucked into people pleasing? What rings most true for you?

Let’s leave it there for this week and we will pick it up next Friday when we talk more about motivation. For now, my challenge to you is this: try and determine where you lack initiative e and why?

Cheers!

Katie Meilleur
http://www.freedomlifelove.com

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