George Bernard Shaw said, “Ordinary people adapt themselves to the world. The extra-ordinary persons try to adapt the world to them. Hence the progress and development of the world is through extra-ordinary people.” Life itself is a challenge and the capacity to survive challenge in human beings is so great that either they find a way or make one. What are the most important qualities that these extraordinary people posses? They are always ready to face the challenges and they are always ready to take the initiatives. The many inventions and discoveries of the world by which the world has progressed are through the extraordinary people who have accepted the challenges against many odds and taken the initiatives to bring in the changes. There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet. By accepting the challenge they took the initiative to produce successful result and thereby they became great. Challenges are what make the life so interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. When challenges are accepted, it will lead to the exhilaration of victory.
What is challenge?
When impediments and obstacles come in the way of achieving success, a challenge is created. Initiative is the step taken to meet these impediments and to overcome them so as to achieve success. Hence initiative is the natural corollary to meet the challenge. We don’t have to be great to start, but we have to start to be great. We all experience certain unexplained feelings which creates an impact in our thinking when faced with a challenge affecting whatever happens around us. But “Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him." Besides, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” That will determine what initiative he has to take.
What is initiative?
Initiative is the first step taken to achieve the desired result. It is the forerunner of action. Action produces the result. When the initiative is taken to act, it may face various challenges. Hence it is apparent that challenge and initiative are the two sides of the same coin and both of them are complimentary to each other. If initiative is taken, it may lead to challenges and if challenges are there, it requires initiative to surmount the challenge. “Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified. He that labors in any great or laudable undertaking has his fatigues first supported by hope and afterward rewarded by joy.” George Bernard Shaw said “Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?” We can dream only if we have hope because “Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so indispensable, none so powerful, as hope. Without hope men are only half alive. With hope they dream and think and work.”
But human nature is that we are afraid to meet the challenge because we are afraid of the failure and we waste our energy trying to cover up our failure. Instead if we accept and learn from our failure taking it as a part of growing up, then only we will be able to face the next challenge and come out successfully. Accepting failure and working on it is the first step to success. Human tendency is to find difficulty in opportunity and not opportunity in difficulty. The general human behaviour is to take the path of least resistance. We tend to forget that when we meet greater challenges, we will find greater opportunities also by understanding our greater inner power dwelling in us. What we have to cultivate is a belief in ourselves and to understand our own capabilities to organise and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations.
When challenges are conquered through initiatives and actions taken, results are achieved and success is ensured. Then we understand that opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging. Challenges make us to discover things about ourselves that we never really know and they make us go beyond our normal stretch. “If we do not rise to the challenge of our unique capacity to shape our lives, to seek the kinds of growth that we find individually fulfilling, then we can have no security: we will live in a world of sham, in which our selves are determined by the will of others, in which we will be constantly buffeted and increasingly isolated by the changes round us.” Achievements in life depend upon the way in which we approach our tasks. When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen. When we do our work with a dynamic, conquering spirit, we get things done. Success is the product of initiative and initiative is to do the right things at the right time and that too without being told. The initiative to face the challenge begins with a first move and a fresh approach and a new way of dealing with the challenge. Perseverance and persistence are the two qualities required to take the initiative to face the challenges and to produce success that we ardently seek. Attitude plays a key role to meet the challenges and to take the initiatives. “Success or failure is caused more by mental attitudes than my mental capabilities.” And “No condition or set of circumstances is in itself a calamity to be feared. It is our reaction to it that makes it a ‘waterloo’ or a field of triumph.”
Challenges are met with by taking the initiative to action. But upon what we have to act? It is said, “To look is one thing. To see what you look at is another. To understand what you see is a third. To learn from what you understand is still something else. But to act on what you learn is all that matters, Isn’t it?” Every human being has his own distinct personality coming out of their own perception and concept. The various characteristics of his personality control his behaviour, the ability to learn, capacity to grow and his capability to change. A strong positive self image with an affirmative assertiveness is the best way to face challenges to achieve success. Cultivating the leadership qualities to apply to all facets of life and developing a competency that we can learn to expand our perspective so as to enable us to set the context of a goal by understanding the human behaviour, and taking the initiative to act will lead us to get to where we want to be.
In the ultimate analysis, “People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult task as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.” Success can be achieved by taking the right initiatives to meet the challenges that come in the way in every walk of life. We are more than what we know about us. By understanding our inner power, we are capable of taking initiative to meet any challenge that may come in our way and achieve whatever that we want through the power of positive thinking. The ultimate endeavour of every one of us is to be a winner and a winner is,
“Winners are too busy to be sad,
Too positive to be doubtful,
Too optimistic to be fearful,
And too determined to be defeated.”
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(The author can be contacted through his e-mail and he also invites comments from readers.)