On Taking Initiative at Work

step-up-be-the-force-not-dragRemember the good ole days when to be a “good student” all you had to do was raise your hand?

Have a question?  Raise your hand.

Have the answer?  Raise your hand.

Have an idea?  Raise your hand.

Have to go to the bathroom??  Raise your hand.

Yes, maybe our arms got tired, and maybe our bladder felt like it was always going to burst, but at least we knew the way to our teachers heart.

And then we graduated…

And suddenly there were no more teachers, and “good students.”

Instead, there were bosses, and “go-getters.”

And what happened to all of us?  All of us that thought the right way was the patient way?

Suddenly we became the nudnicks.

Our bosses didn’t want us to just sit around with our hand up waiting.  Our bosses didn’t want to have to stand there calling on us one at a time.

They expected us to know, not ask.  Expected us to do, not wait.

Times change, but change itself is hard.  So what do we do?  Here’s my two cents for this week…

One of the biggest transitions from the classroom to the office is understanding the goals of a teacher vs the goals of a boss.

Teachers teach to educate.  Bosses lead to make sure shit gets done.

For a teacher, a well-behaved classroom is king.  Students sitting and patiently waiting to be called on is exactly what they want and need to maintain order in the classroom so that they get their educating on.

For a boss, on the other hand, a well-oiled machine is king.  Workers sitting and patiently waiting to be called on = bottlenecks.  Those bottlenecks = dead weight.

To succeed in the workplace you need to learn not to be the dead weight - the drag that pulls everyone behind.

What you need to learn to be is the freaking wind that’s blowing things forward.

Back in the classroom the teacher spends so much of his energy pushing and pushing, trying to make sure everyone understands.  In the workplace though, the last thing the boss wants is push and push just to make sure things get done.

What a boss is looking for is a team that can manage itself.  A team that will ask questions, give answers and come up with ideas on their own with as little effort needed from the boss.  So long as they are getting things done, the boss lady/man is happy.

What does that mean for you?

Take initiative.  Put your hand down and get your ass up.  Be the force, not the drag.

What do you think?

Are you sinking in the “good worker” boat, playing by the old school rules of being patient and polite, but not getting ahead?

How do you feel like the rules have changed and what are you doing about it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


7 thoughts on “On Taking Initiative at Work

  • October 30, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    It’s so true. School was all about being obedient, following rules, a prescription for if you do this then good things will happen. But good things don’t just HAPPEN. I think that’s an illusion I blinded myself with for so long. The rules were always the same, I just realized it later than I would have liked, but now my perspective has shifted to actively creating my self-worth instead of waiting to be told what that is.
    Great post, Kat. The subject hits home for me.

    • November 2, 2021 at 8:22 am

      Prreeeaccchhh right back at you woman!! Self worth that you create is bigger than anything you can ever gain through permission from others!! There are no limits aside when you make the rules

  • October 31, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Love it — keep the posts coming. Any advice on how to raise self-confidence about becoming the force vs. sitting back and waiting to be told? I know in the past I have definitely struggled with attempting things (both at work and in life) because I didn’t believe in myself/thought my idea was stupid/was fearful of criticism/etc., so I’m interested in hearing how you have dealt with similar situations. :)

    • November 2, 2021 at 8:53 am

      Thanks woman!! Yes I feel you times a million. This is like the ultimate question for this site. How do I get motivated? How do I find the confidence in myself. I’m going to work on a response article, hopefully we can start unpacking it together 😉

  • November 2, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    I completely agree! I have recently just become a follower of your wise words and can’t get enough! I just wanted to say that you are right! I am currently training for the 2018 winter Olympic Games and wanted to say you are totally right! My coach has always said if we don’t beg him to try something new then we won’t attempt the trick! So he is always waiting for us to take the lead and become on step closer to our future goal! Thank you so much for your weekly posts they are so motivating!!

    • November 3, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      Wow, Madison that is amazing!! Thank you so much for leaving a comment and for following along! What sport are you preparing for? I would love to hear more about your story and how you got where you are. Preparing for something that huge takes a shiza ton of dedication and motivation 😀

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