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After working through the 'competency evaluation' assignment, and as I sat reflecting upon my past, I realized that I was weak at taking initiatives. Moreover, compared to the other skills I figured out that developing this skill is comparatively more worthwhile than the rest. The instance I quoted for the competency evaluation was not the most disturbing incident of my life but ignoring this important skill will have serious long-term consequences both in my personal and professional life. Judging the modern way-of-life in workplace or academic institution, I have arrived at the conclusion that one who can take initiatives without hesitation and does what his/her mind speaks, with sufficient amount of perseverance and persistence is always in some or the other way ahead of the game and being ahead of the game is the point.
I chose to improve upon my initiative skills and hence set my goal to attain a higher level of initiative skills, after doing my research on the merits of this competency in the strong state. One who takes initiative easily gains the trust, confidence and cooperation of everybody else in the group. They are personally involved in their activities and continue working to achieve their goals even if it involves re-adjusting the procedure in the face of setbacks. At this point I would like to speak briefly on self-efficacy. It refers to a person's belief in their abilities in achieving their goals. Young people with a higher sense of self-efficacy try harder, persevere in difficult times, bounce back more quickly after failures, and are eventually more successful and hence it is a must-have for someone who intends to improve their initiative skills. Being initiative in approach is the most important ingredient of a leader.
In college, students face more homework that is challenging, are required to initiate their own studying, and are expected to complete a wide range of assignments on their own and hence self-efficacy and perseverance are very important to achieve success in these assignments. As an engineer, I will have to suit myself to a more challenging environment where the demands are ever increasing and changing, in terms of both quality and quantity. Clearly, it is invaluably important for professional development.
Finally, students who are good at taking initiatives are more able to avoid participation in delinquency, drug use, immoral and unhealthy sexual behavior. In addition, engineers who are good at it are bound to have a successful, life-long career. Realizing this goal really has a high potential to change my life henceforth. Hence, its worth for personal development and maintenance too is huge and invaluable.
[Some ideas taken from http://cals-cf.calsnet.arizona.edu/fcs/bpy/index.cfm]
Measurable: Think and plan short-term steps to achieve your goal. How will you know that you are making progress? Will you evaluate your progress yourself or ask someone else to provide you with the feedback?
( 20 marks )
I will realize my goal by adopting the following short-term steps:
Being inquisitive: Eleanor Roosevelt once told this on curiosity, "I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity."
Curiosity is simply being a champion of new ideas and always being on the lookout for alternatives for e.g. asking "how if" or "what if" at every chance I get to think of solving a problem. The more curious I am the more opportunities and possibilities open for me.
By preparing and equipping myself with all the facts that I can gather to make my point. Many a times it so happens that, we take the imitative but cannot succeed in convincing others our ideas just because we are not armoured with answers to all the questions that can arise against it.
By being on the lookout for new ideas for improvement: the passion to innovate is what triggers initiative. The world around is rapidly changing and to keep up with the pace one needs to keep innovating and reforming rather than sticking to the same antiques.
By being persistent on my ideas: this is very important otherwise rarely will new ideas thrive. Resistance is the greatest enemy of invention and it is unavoidable. Being persistent on the upstream journey will decide the success of my endeavour.
By focusing more on my abilities and ways to improve my approach and ideas rather than comparing myself to others. This creates room for emotions that resist development.
By actively participating in all college events viz. sports and games, fairs, charity, and communities.
By readily admitting my own mistakes. Taking the initiative to do this will lead to better team-effort and does not keep room for distrust and inward hatred. It also helps have a team with open-minded members. This can also be considered as a practical manifestation of the skill.
[Some ideas taken from 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work by Bob Nelson]
I can evaluate my progress myself to a large extent, but feedback from others are also invaluable and can, besides giving me an idea about my progress, also give me an idea about their opinion regarding me. Feedback from others is relevant only when it is concrete and process-oriented rather than just a "good job" or "keep up the good work" or "you need improvement", etc.
The following will help indicate me my progress:
If I begin new tasks before I am told to do so.
When I look for work in any spare time.
When I offer suggestions to my superiors.
When I confidently admit my own mistakes and offer correction to others.
When I can work smoothly without supervision, provided I have sufficient knowledge on the topic, and more so, when I am not hesitant to explore and dig out for more information via my own efforts to fill any gaps in my understanding of the topic.
What skills and strengths you have that will help you to achieve your goal? Have you achieved a similar goal in the past?
( 10 marks )
I am well read and analytical in nature. Before taking in anything thrown into my lap, I verify its authenticity, not to be confused with pessimism. I also have a good hold over the English language, the best proof of which is my ex-school Principal's comment on me, after an interview with the school management community. Many of my present, skills and strengths that I possess now were once my weaknesses, and I have worked on to improve them so as to have a smooth ride towards achieving bigger and more complex goals, for example meeting deadlines, effective listening and speaking, careful observation and versatility in any environment. Earlier I had a bad temper and now, I have brought it under control, so indirectly I have worked on my patience and hence on my persistence level which will help me stick to my ideas in the face of obstacles. I also have worked on my attitude and approach to life and my expectations from myself over the past few years and I am continuously working towards further refinement which will help me remain specific on what I need to do and want to do. I have been into leadership posts many a times in my school in my past, not as a result of my initiative, but just because my teachers and seniors thought I was able. As a result, I have sufficient experience on many issues that I gained because of the numerous mistakes and failures I made. Experiences are knowledge and they are the best teachers.
Yes, I have achieved similar goals in my past and I have quoted numerous of them in the above paragraph.
What resources will you utilize to realize your goal? (Think about books, technology, help from others' expertise).
How will you utilize these resources?
( 10 marks )
A plethora of resources is available to suit my needs to realize my goal. Mention worthy among them are the following: internet, self-help books, leadership development programmes, workshops, seminars, audio and video tapes, newspaper and magazine columns, maintained and authored by experts on the topic, etc.
The internet, though not the best among these, offers help in the form of websites that are extremely dedicated to the task and offer quality ideas and suggestions. Leadership development programmes and seminars conducted by many eminent motivational speakers and are available on the internet, which can be downloaded or streamed. Similarly, audio and video tapes of similar content are also available and can be easily accessed. Since I have easy access to the internet at home and college I can utilize these resources to my satisfaction and benefit with ease.
There are thousands of self-help books available in school, college and university libraries and bookstores as well. E.g. 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work by Bob Nelson, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I have a PDF library, which I maintain on my hard disk, which includes the above-mentioned two titles and many more related to taking initiatives. Some of them are written exclusively on the topic but some explore it as a part of an exercise to be followed to achieve a particular personal goal. This also shows that developing this competency can help me in achieving many other competencies as well. This also serves as motivation for me to continue and persevere on achieving my goal.
Feedback from others can also help me to work on specific areas that pertain to the impression I create in others. I could use help from my teachers, parents, seniors and my friends.
Time Bound :
When do you plan to achieve your goal? Why have you set this date?
Do you have an alternative date in case something unexpected occurs?
( 5 marks )
I plan to realize my goal by the beginning of January, probably prior to the 5th of the month. The reason I set this date is that I intend to complete achieving my goal prior to the end of the current semester. I have set a date a week prior to the actual deadline within which I intend to achieve my goal. This will help me channelize my efforts towards the goal and later to corrections as well. An old maxim tells that we should always anticipate even the unanticipated, and hence I have taken the necessary precaution of setting an alternate deadline for myself in case anything unexpected comes up.