Here’s a story of a Father and his two sons. The Father, who at this time was getting on in his years, had worked all his life growing and shaping the family farm which was now a successful business and well respected. The Father, recognising he no longer could commit to the daily rigours of managing the farming business, decided it was time to hand over the reins to one of his two sons.
Bringing his sons together to discuss who he thought would be best suited to continue managing the day to day running of the family farming business, he told both sons that the farm will now be managed by the younger son. Upon hearing this, the older son was absolutely furious, “What are you talking about?!” he fumed, “surely it’s obvious that I should be taking over, I am older and I certainly have more experience, this isn’t right Father” the older son shouted.
The Father sat patiently, thinking. “Okay,” the Father said to the older son, “I need you to do something for me if you don’t mind? I think we need more cows. Will you go to Mr O’Donnells farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”
The older son shortly returned and reported back, “Father, the O’Donnells have 6 cows for sale.”
The Father graciously thanked the older son for his work.
The Father then turned to the younger son and said, “I need you to do something for me also if you will? We need more cows. Will you go to the O’Donnells farm and see if they have any cows for sale?”
One’s things for sure – life doesn’t put itself on hold for you.
The younger son did as he was asked. A short while later, he returned and reported, “Father, the O’Donnells have 6 cows for sale. Now, the younger son continued with much enthusiasm, each cow will cost 2,000 pounds. If we are thinking about buying more than 6 cows, Mr.O’Donnell said he would be willing to reduce the price by 100 pounds but he also said that they are getting special jersey cows in next week if we aren’t in a hurry, it may be good to wait for you to wait. However, if we need the cows urgently Mr.O’Donnell said he could deliver the cows tomorrow.”
The Father graciously thanked the younger son for his work. He then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your younger brother is getting the farm.”
So, what’s the point of the story? Well, in my experience, most people in their professional capacity only do what they are asked to do, sometimes only doing the bare minimum to get buy. Most people require step by step instructions and continued monitoring if you ask them to do extra sub-tasks.
Successful people on the other hand, well they are far more inclined to initiate conversation and to be engaging in all aspects of the task. Successful people are more proactive, more open to discussion and entirely comfortable when challenging the status quo. Successful people are far more likely to both offer and ask for help in order for the task to be successful. Successful people understand that life doesn’t stand around waiting.
Initiation always involves some degree of risk. You’re putting yourself out there knowing there is a chance you could fail.
In every organisation, there are a select few employees who would be difficult to replace. For the most part, most people are like the older son in the story. Most people could be easily replaced. Most people are passive and reactive.They require specific instructions. They need to be governed and managed in all things.
Initiation always involves some degree of risk. You’re putting yourself out there and there is a chance you could fail. Conversely, doing only what you’re told entails no risk and carries no responsibility. It’s playing safe.