Character Chats

Why Should We Show Initiative?

Why should we show initiative?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, the owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, and we’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are three or four and our oldest student who’s eight and five. And this month, we are talking about initiative. We started off defining initiative as seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being told, without being asked. It’s a skill that we grow. As we grow, that skill grows, right? Our four or five and six-year-olds, they don’t show a whole lot of initiative because they don’t know A, what they can do, and B, that they should do any of those things. But as we all grow and mature, our initiative can grow and mature.

Then we talked about things that got in the way of showing initiative like distractions or waiting for somebody else to do it or procrastinating, stuff that stops us from actually doing a job well done. And then last week, we talked about how showing initiative also includes little goal setting, like setting timers or making sure we have a certain number of things taken care of like when we choose to clean up our rooms. What does that look like? What’s the goal? What are we trying to accomplish? So showing initiative takes a little bit of goal setting, a little bit of pre-planning sometimes for those things as well. And today, we’re ending the month talking about, well, why? Why should we show initiative? And so that’s the big question.

So let’s go back to one of the examples I shared earlier in all of our talks. The dog’s water dish is overturned because the dog made a mess. If we don’t show initiative, what’s going to happen? It’s going to stay a mess. The water’s going to warp the floors. The dog’s not going to have fresh water to drink. The water might dry up. Someone might slip and fall, right? We can see the negative effects to not showing initiative, but I’d rather focus on the positive effects of showing initiative. So we clean up the water dish, we put more water in it. What’s the positive effects? Hugs and kisses from the dog. The fact that you did a job well done, everyone’s safe, you’re feeling proud of yourself, you’re feeling pretty good. I accomplished this. There’s lots of positives to it.

Let’s talk about initiative from the standpoint of our younger students, our five, our six or seven-year-olds. As they’re learning, as they’re growing, they show initiative of cleaning up their toys and then we praise them and then they feel proud of themselves and they’re smiling and they’re happy and they’re like, “I did something good.” So we want to always continue to reinforce those positive behaviors. We have a group project for school, and we work together, and we show initiative and we finish it and we have a job well done, and we’ve worked hard. And now, we have an A on our grade and we’re all really happy because that means that we’re ending this semester on a positive note. That kind of thing, right?

As adults, a lot of our day-to-day initiative things, calling doctor’s appointments and making sure people get where they need to go and those kinds of things. It might feel somewhat mundane, but if we sit down and we take a moment and we breathe and we say, “Hey, I got these things accomplished. I took initiative on these things.” Especially if we take initiative on the stuff we’ve been avoiding, we can find that same sense of pride, joy, maybe even relief that some of those more difficult tasks are off our plate because we took that initiative and we got those things done.

So that’s how we feel. But how do the people around us feel when we’ve shown initiative to them? Let’s say we’ll take my teenagers for example. They’re 15 and 18. They decided to show initiative and they go out to the car, and they bring the groceries in for me. Well, they’re proud of themselves and they feel like they’re part of the team. But me as their parent, I’m happy because we’ve all worked together, and the job got done that much faster. When we do something and show initiative for somebody else, we’ve helped them. We’ve given them a moment to breathe, we’ve taken a load off of their task list, if you will. And it winds up being that many hands make light work.

And so if we think about it from the standpoint of taking initiative, being a benefit, not just to ourselves, but to the world around us, we’re all going to learn. We’re all going to grow. We’re all going to create a more positive environment for ourselves. And that’s the biggest part of initiative. Setting goals. We’re proud of ourselves for achieving our goals, but so are the people around us, especially if we’ve shared what those goals are. And yes, some of the tasks that I’ve shared with you in terms of taking initiative, they’re boring ones. I’ll admit. I agree. But there’s still a sense of pride or of a job well done or of positivity that goes around when we all work together, we all get those things done, and we feel good about it.

So as we’re showing initiative, as we continue this initiative journey beyond this month, take a look at how you feel when you’ve shown initiative. But then take a moment and step back and see the faces of all the people around you that you’ve taken initiative for. And put that in your thought process of like, “I’ve done something good for someone as well,” because it’s all a positive thing.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here.

True Balance Karate is at 406 Ogden Ave Downers Grove Illinois, 60515 (next to CVS)

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