Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash

Let me ask you a question: When was the last time something significant happened in your life that you initiated?

One of the key distinguishing marks I see in successful leaders all around the world is a willingness to take initiative.

Lester Wunderman was a legendary New York Ad man in the 40’s and 50’s. After being fired from his job, Wunderman got up the next morning and went back to work anyway—without pay. The head of the agency, Max Sackheim, ignored him for a month before finally walking into his office and saying, “Okay, you win. I never saw a man who wanted a job more than he wanted money.”

Wunderman went on to become one of the most successful leaders in the history of the advertising industry, and is widely regarded as the father of direct marketing.

Here’s what I want you to know: It will take a bold step from you today to reach your potential tomorrow.

Consider these things as you seek to become a leader who takes initiative.

1. Know what you want.

Napoleon Hill wisely said, “The starting point of all achievement is desire.” The only way you’ll be able to recognize opportunity when it comes is to know what you want.

2. Push yourself to act.

Leaders who take initiative understand their responsibility to be self-motivated. I love this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt, “There is nothing brilliant or outstanding in my record, except perhaps this one thing: I do the things that I believe ought to be done… And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.”

3. Take risks.

Leaders are willing to take risks when they recognize there is a price for not initiating too. President John F. Kennedy said this, “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” Taking risks is necessary for sustained growth and long-term success.

4. Make mistakes.

To make things happen you have to make mistakes. Take it from the founder of IBM, Thomas J. Watson, “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” In order to experience great success, you must be willing to put yourself on the line, even at the risk of failure. It’s not about failing less, it’s about learning faster.


Conrad Hilton, wildly successful hotel executive said this, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

I want to encourage you today to push yourself to take initiative in your life and leadership. If you wait for opportunity to knock, you will be known for your wasted potential. But if you choose to believe that opportunity is waiting for you to knock, you will find it everywhere.

Do you wait for opportunity to come to you?

Or are you constantly on the lookout for opportunity?

It’s like former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca said, “Even the right decision is the wrong decision if it is made too late.”

Don’t wait—take iniaitive!

4 Comments

  1. Heidi Maduhu on December 13, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for all the encouragement, Mark!

  2. Dan Williams on December 13, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Very good notes

  3. Rosemary Naggujja Mugerwa on December 15, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Thank you so much for pushing me.

  4. Take Initiative! – John Maxwell – ajocoder on December 22, 2019 at 8:07 am

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