When conducting my seminars, I often ask leaders, “What social trends are you witnessing that are challenging your ability to effectively lead others?” A common response is, “An acceptance of mediocrity and the lack of initiative among employees.”

The existence of this social trend decreases accountability, promotes procrastination, and is devastating to the efficiency, productivity, and profitability of an organization. It depletes individual creativity, innovation, and a spirit of risk taking because of the lack of assertiveness prevalent in the workforce.

This same attitude, when transferred into our personal lives, has similar consequences. Initiative is defined as “the ability to assess and initiate things independently, the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do, an act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation, a fresh approach to something.” Assertive is defined as “having or showing a confident and forceful personality.”

Do you personally accept mediocrity, lack initiative, and procrastinate in regard to your potential to excel in life? Or, are you taking the steps necessary to become increasingly assertive in making decisions, accomplishing tasks, and welcoming opportunities to expand into a better you?

Personal initiative plus assertiveness eliminates procrastination. A lack of assertiveness and initiative stimulates the fundamental reasons behind procrastination. Those are the fears of failure and the unknown. Without having a confident personality and the belief in yourself to act independently, putting off what you know needs to be done is easy and sustains those fears. In addition, deciding a task is too difficult or stressful to initiate and complete is only an excuse for not taking ownership for the responsibilities you have created in your personal and professional life.

It is the understanding and implementation of your core values that provide the strength to be assertive and take the initiative. Your core values provide a foundation to execute present and future actions. Structured and defined core values in an organization create the blueprint to hold employees accountable as they enable us to hold ourselves accountable.

Procrastination diminishes self-esteem because it delays acting on the core values that enhance personal pride and self-respect. If you do not act on what needs to be done, how can you grow as a person and as a professional?

Procrastination can be aligned conceptually to a lack of forgiveness because both behaviors allow for incompletes and unresolved issues. Both human frailties direct energy toward a path that is self-destructive. The burden to carry what still needs to be completed drains the human spirit and stifles initiative. All of us know individuals who cannot let things go, whether it be hurts from past relationships, employment, or even personal failures. Are you one of those individuals? Procrastinating on not forgiving yourself or others only creates further frustration, anger, and disappointment because it directs wasteful energy toward what was, instead of directing productive energy toward what can be.

What do you have to lose by being assertive and taking the initiative? If you are honest in your attempt at resolving an issue or accomplishing a task there is nothing to lose. You can only gain from the success or learn from the mistakes made in the process. As many notable leaders have said, “It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.”

Five basic practices to overcome procrastination are:
1. Believe in yourself that the task at hand can be accomplished successfully
2. Set aside time and energy to initiate what needs to be completed
3. Manage effectively and follow through with the process to its completion
4. Evaluate the completed task by thoroughly reviewing the process to assess ways to improve in the future
5. Celebrate the achievement by appreciating yourself and recognizing those who have assisted in the achievement.

Anyone can make a decision not to do something. But if that something is important and contributes to the betterment of you, your family, and your profession, then step up to the plate. Take action and hit the home run by thinking more of others than yourself. Initiative combined with assertiveness creates a team destined to succeed, and you are that team.

Author's Bio: 

Jay Rifenbary is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant who provides expertise in the areas of personal and professional development, leadership, and communications. He is president of Rifenbary Training & Development and the author of two books, "True To Your Core - Common Sense Values for Living Life to Its Fullest" and “No Excuse! – Incorporating Core Values, Accountability and Balance into Your Life and Career." Visit www.rifenbary.com for more information.