Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Taking Initiative to Achieve Your Goals


By Liz Pollack, MS, ACPEC

Have you ever heard of the story about the 18-year-old boy, a 53-foot yacht, and a billion-dollar corporation? It goes like this: Eighteen-year-old Kevin was hired to wax a yacht. He had trouble getting the wax to buff out properly and so he went to ask his dad what he should do. His dad was watching a football game with his friends and they started to work on the problem. They explained just exactly how wax worked and each step of the process. They told him the difference between different waxes and applicators. They discussed the difference in quality between hand rubbing and machine buffing. They talked and argued about possible causes and soon were discussing the many uses for wax. Unfortunately, none of the talk was getting Kevin an answer. Finally, a frustrated Kevin called 3M to discuss the problem. Within an hour one of their product specialists called him back. The specialist identified the problem and gave Kevin the name of a product to more completely strip the old wax. He started again and got a beautiful result. It is easy to get paralyzed in problem-solving, but, just like Kevin, we need to know what we want, stay focused, and take initiative.

The best way to avoid stagnation and procrastination is to make sure you have a clear understanding of the problem and the results you want. Kevin wanted a bubble-free finish so he could collect his pay. He didn’t need a three-hour lecture on the difference between hand and machine buffing. In order to move forward like Kevin did, we need to clearly define the problem and the desired results.

We need to keep ourselves from getting stalled in problem-solving by bringing ourselves back to the point. It is easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of our goal. When this happens, we often get frustrated and stop trying to improve things.

Most importantly, we need to recognize when we are stuck and take the initiative to free ourselves. Just like Kevin took the initiative, after a great deal of frustration, to call 3M, as leaders we sometimes have to take the initiative and get good information, seek help from an expert, gather more data, and take our best educated guess. Too often we are embarrassed to admit we don’t have the answers or are afraid to take a step because we may fail. We must overcome our timidity and boldly move forward even if our first tries don’t get us to our goals.

Developing the habits of goal, focus, and initiative not only helps us achieve our goals but they keep us motivated and ready to tackle the next challenge.

Are you trying to stay focused and have initiative? Need some assistance? Everyone does sometimes. Contact Liz Pollack, MS, ACPEC, Certified Life Coach, and owner of Leg Up Services. She is ready to help YOU! For more information, call 309-370-4492 or visit

Photo credit: Torresigner/Thinkstock