Taking Initiative

This is a guest post by Joey Berrios. Joey is an educator, writer, and designer. You can read his blog at joeyberrios.com. He is the author of Addicted To Love.

Taking Initiative

We all have the fear of rejection. We all have the fear of putting ourselves out there. We all have the fear of taking a risk. We all have the fear of failing. We all have a part of ourselves that wants to play it safe and hold back when it comes to our personal creativity and innovation.

Seth Godin says the following about our fear of taking initiative in his book Poke The Box: “The simple thing that separates successful individuals from those who languish is the very thing that separates exciting and growing organizations from those that stagnate and die. The winners have turned initiative into a passion and a practice. The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.”

Fear holds us back from personal breakthroughs and innovation. Fear keeps us from speaking up when we have a great idea. Fear keeps us from creating something beautiful that can enhance the lives of others. Fear causes us to be mediocre. If we are not careful, fear can rob us of our creativity and passion. By playing it safe, we rob ourselves of the difference we can truly make as leaders in the lives of others.

One of the greatest qualities of a leader is the ability to take initiative. A great leader does not wait to be told what to do: he finds what needs to be done and does it. A great leader understands that he must fight to keep himself from being controlled by fear and doubt.

Examine the following quotes from a few of our world’s great leaders:

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels)

The right man is the one who seizes the moment.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not.” -Lucille Ball

“An idea is worthless unless you use it.” -John Maxwell

Is there a project you have been dragging your feet on? Is there an idea that you are passionate about? Is there a goal that you want to accomplish? Don’t let fear keep you from taking the necessary steps to reach your desired future. Yes, you will have haters. Yes, your ideas might not always workout the way that you planned. But what option do you really have? You cannot afford to do nothing. You must step out and take a risk. You must take initiative and bring your dream to life.

Success comes to those who are extraordinary. There are far too many people who are playing it safe in our world today. Our world needs leaders who are willing to take the risks necessary to bring their ideas to life. Playing it safe and refusing to take risks will only chain us to mediocrity. By taking initiative, we can begin to see our creativity and innovation make an impact on our world.

Where in your life do you most need to take initiative?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Personal Progress

This week every year, I review my personal progress for the year. Would you like to play along?

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  • What did I do that worked well?
  • What did I attempt that didn’t work?
  • Did I meet my goals?
  • What could I do better with a little tweaking?
  • What should I stop doing so I can do other things?
  • Where is my time most being wasted?
  • What discipline do I most need to implement into my day?
  • What was my most memorable moment?
  • What drains my energy just to think about doing again?
  • What changes do I need to make?

Are you playing?

Here’s to a great 2012!

Laying the Groundwork for Change

I once asked one of my mentor pastors, (make sure you have one of those) who is in his 90’s now, how he was able to implement major changes in a large, traditional church. (If you’ve never tried it…trust me…it’s not easy.) He had a history of successfully leading churches and I knew he had surely faced opposition to change.

His advice was simple, yet profound.

After he had prayerfully decided change was needed, he said he always laid his groundwork first. Before he took an item to the church, or even a governing body (in this case a body of deacons), he always had meetings with key people to introduce the change, gain input, and solicit support. He asked himself, “Who is influential within certain circles? Who can ‘kill the deal’? Who can ‘make it happen’? Who can make the change even better?”

Then, using some of the ideas generated and the support already built, he attempted to implement the change.

I’ve never forgotten that advice.

Sometimes the meetings before the meeting are the most important.

When you are convinced change is necessary and prayerfully landed on a direction you feel is best, build a core group of supporters for your idea first. Flesh it out with people you trust and who are influential with other people. Even be willing to adjust your ideas to make them better and stronger. Then attempt to tackle the change.

You’ll find yourself with a greater success rate.

What tips do you have for implementing change?

Christmas Flash Mob

According to YouTube, Journey of Faith performed a Christmas “Flash Mob” at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach on December 18, much to the delight of local shoppers.

One of the best I’ve ever seen…don’t miss the ending.

Ever been a part of a flash mob? Would you like to be?

(Thanks to @MaxLucado for pointing me to this one.)

Dreams, Goals and Plans


Far reaching, seemingly impossible, worthwhile, dependent on faith and huge personal risk, with no guarantee of success.


Defined aspects of realizing the dream. Attainable, stretching and measurable.


Action steps written to systematically complete goals. Assigned, scheduled and accountable.

It won’t be easy, there may be moments of despair, disappointments and setbacks along the way…you’ll need to learn prayer and patience like never before…but sometimes breaking down the terms makes the path seem clearer. Perhaps that dream is possible after all.

What’s the dream God is birthing in your heart?

You may now want to read 7 Steps to Achieving Your Goals or 7 Reasons You May not be Achieving Your Goals.

5 Current Tools Making Me a Better Leader

I’m constantly attempting to be more efficient and effective with how I manage my time. With so much of my time online, that means many of the tools that improve my productivity are applications or other online tools. I have a few that are worth sharing.

Here are some of the current tools helping make me a better leader:

StrengthsFinders and The Standard – I believe a leader leads best when he or she maximizes personal strengths and minimizes weaknesses. I’ve been a fan of StrengthsFinders since shortly after it was released. The StandOut is a new strengths finder, but very comprehensive. Both of these assessments are inexpensive, are completed online, and a code to take them comes with the books when you purchase them and together these two have made me much more aware of who I am as a leader.

Evernote – Almost everything I write and every note I take begins with Evernote. It syncs with all my devices which means I’m never without a place to store or continue writing on projects on which I’m currently working. (This blog post started there.)

Flipboard iPad application – What did I do before this application? Flipboard brings everything I want to read into one app. Whether it’s USA Today, Harvard Business Review, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, or my blog, you can add it to Flipboard to simplify your browsing.

Twitter – I’ve been using Twitter for several years now, but I’m still just as committed to it as when I began. I have made some of my best friends in the last few years on Twitter. I’ve spoken at conferences and consulted with churches, just because of my Twitter interaction.

Adobe Ideas – Adobe is an iPad drawing application. I have several drawing board applications, but this one lets me save multiple drawings. I pull it out every time I’m trying to explain or teach something. I now have an archive of drawings to pull from always on my iPad.

What would you share with me that’s helping you be better at what you do? Know any good apps I should try?

The Danger of Vision Casting

Vision casting can be dangerous…

It can destroy the health of a team…

Cast your stones if you want, but it’s true.

The most prolific vision-casters can ruin a good team.

Let me explain…

Casting a vision is one part of success…an important part…

Completing the vision is another…equally important part…

And if the team doesn’t understand the vision…

Or how to complete it…

It won’t matter how well the vision was cast…

In fact, it can even do more harm than good.

Visions can appear bigger than life…

People left without the “how” may feel discouraged, defeated; like failures.

They may give up and the vision dies…

Vision-casters, by nature, thrive on casting…so they are continually throwing out the big idea…

It’s fun, exciting, motivating…visionary…

Great leaders continually work to ensure people not only catch the vision…

But also understand the how and have the resources to accomplish the vision…

It takes both…

Great leaders:

  • Ask questions to make sure everyone understands…
  • Ensure there are plans, strategies, and systems in place…
  • Never leave the process during implementation…
  • Break the vision down into measurable steps or goals…

Have you been on the bad side of vision casting?

How to Double Your Productivity

I’m reading Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan and Joseph Grenny. So far it’s an encouraging book. Much of it appears to me as common sense, but it’s always good to reinforce concepts you think you know. I’m hoping to test these theories with some change in my own life.

Here’s an excerpt from Change Anything:

Consider the following rather startling discovery. A team of researchers from New York University worked with students whose grades suffered because they procrastinated studying. They gave half of the procrastinators information on how to improve their study habits. The other half were given the same information—plus pencil and paper. They were told, “Decide now where and at what times you will study in the next week, and write it down.” Those who recorded their plan studied more than twice as many hours as those who didn’t.”

Did you catch that? How do you double your chance of being productive? Apparently you write it down. Schedule it. Make a plan.

I love it when the experts agree with me. :)

I suggest to people all the time that they should schedule everything. For years people have asked how I accomplish as much as I do. One “secret” is that I schedule my week. If you want more specifics, I wrote about it HERE.

Start the week off right. Calendar the things you want to accomplish.

Working the plan is much easier when you have one.

What tips do you have for being more productive?

How to Revitalize a Dying Project

In less than one minute, this video from Scott Belsky is brilliant. Watch him explain how to revitalize a project that has plateaued.

Can you put this idea to work?

Reminds me of a Jesus principle I Tweeted about yesterday:

Thanks to Catalyst for pointing me to this video. BTW, will I see you at Catalyst East this year?