The Power of Action

“A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
– General George Patton Jr

I’ve been thinking about Initiative lately. How do you teach initiative? I don’t think you can, you can only encourage and allow initiative. As leaders, we must allow initiative, let people stretch, encourage them to try new ways (“…but that’s not the way it’s been done before” isn’t allowed), and then reward the successes and learn from, not punish, the failures. And as leaders, we can’t spend our lives just reacting to the events around us, we must be proactive… pushing forward, testing new concepts, breaking new ground.

Why Initiative?

Because world events tell us we must act with a sense of urgency. I’m not a fatalistic nor do I think we are going to “Fly Away” just yet, but the statistics are staggering:

  • Every day, over 15,000 children under age 5 die of starvation. (Source: The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF, 2007)
  • In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has orphaned nearly 12 million children aged under 18 years. (Source: 2008 UNAIDS Global Report on the AIDS Epidemic).
  • An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking. (International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet, 2007)

We Must Be Starters

I’ve just finished reading Seth Godin’s book, Poke the Box. (My full review is here.) It talks about the power of starting, of initiating. How the world needs us all to follow our dreams, no matter what the perceived risk or perceived cost. In the non-profit world, the reality is that the risk and the cost isn’t as daunting as we imagine. For most of us, we could sell our second car and give up our yearly vacation, and use the money to live in the third world for a year, sharing the hope we have and saving people from the bleak realities outlined above. It’s easier than you think. And it might just change your life.

So, what does all of this translate to? We don’t have the time and luxury to be sitting on our butts. The time is now. If these staggering statistics don’t drive you to action, then you should get your pulse checked. The world needs YOU to ACT. The world needs YOU to START. now.