Initiative - MetroFamily Magazine
MetroFamily Magazine

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Too often, initiative ends up being noted more when it is absent than when it is present. How many of us have read these words on a progress report or report card? “Student lacks initiative.” Many of us, at a particular age or in some area of our life, drag our feet and fail to take action. That can prove detrimental to the person who is unwilling to act and can be downright frustrating to those around him. Initiative is defined as recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked.

Examples of people with initiative abound in many fields: inventors, explorers, leaders, athletes, and artists. Inventors use their initiative to find a better way to do things. Explorers require initiative to journey into unknown areas. Leaders employ initiative to improve the lives of those who elected them. Initiative gets athletes out on the field and keeps them practicing long after the fans have gone home. Artists must harness their initiative whenever they begin a new project, whether it is writing a novel or painting a scene.

When talking with your children about this trait, point out people who are using initiative. Noting that their favorite quarterback is showing initiative by changing a play at the line of scrimmage may go a long way toward boosting this character trait in their eyes.

In Nature
Whistling swans are one of the many bird species that migrate to the south during the winter and return to the north for nesting in the spring. During this journey of thousands of miles, one bird takes the initiative and flies in the lead with the other birds falling in slightly behind and to the side of the lead swan. The swans form the familiar V-shaped fl ying pattern which means only the bird in front has to face the wind. Those behind the lead swan are able to fl y in the draft and don't have to work as hard. As the lead swan tires, it drops back and another swan moves up to take its place. By employing this method, the swans reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and can fly as many as 800 miles in a single day. A swan flying alone would only be able to cover 470 miles per day.

Teachable Moments
Historic explorers like Lewis and Clark showed great initiative by venturing into new territory. Pretend you are explorers this month and do something your family haven't done before: ride a train, go for a hike, or jump into a pile of leaves. Take the initiative and check out the numerous activities in MetroFamily's monthly activity calendar.

Thanksgiving means many families will be planning holiday gatherings. Whether your family is hosting the event or going to another home, there are a number of tasks to be completed ahead of time. Discuss these activities with your children, divide up the duties, and assign a deadline. If everyone is coming to your home, you might want to focus on raking leaves and working on the yard during week one, cleaning house during week two, and meal planning and baking during the third week. Make lists and give each child a copy. When they accomplish their assignments on time, praise them for taking the initiative and getting things done.

The familiar story of the Little Red Hen offers a great explanation of initiative. The little red hen decides she wants to bake bread. First she grows the wheat, then she harvests the grain. Afterward she has the grain milled into flour and finally bakes the bread. At each step, she asks the duck, cat, and dog for help, but no one is willing. When the bread is ready to eat, the duck, cat, and dog all want to help eat it. The little red hen reminds them that they were unwilling to pitch in when she was working so hard. The fresh bread is the reward for the initiative she showed by doing all the work to make it possible.

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