March 18, 2018 Gary Shotton

“Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.” By Gary Shotton #000179

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By Gary Shotton

Hello, my name is Gary Shotton. And I’m here on our website, Inspiring Better Business, and we hope that these are helpful to you. Today we’re going to talk about “Initiative”. And my friend gave us a good definition, I’m sure you could find something similar to this in a number of places but “Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked to do it.” Well, that’s pretty simple. “Recognizing what needs to be done and doing it before I’m asked to do it.” Well if you’re in the workplace, on a job, in management, ownership in a business, you’ve got to have initiative. You’ve got to be willing to go out, get out of bed, go to work, tackle the problems, realize there’s going to be challenges, not be upset with every little bump in the road, you’ve got to have initiative. And I’m always just a little bit perturbed or set back with somebody that I meet and I shake their hand and I can tell that there’s no hard, solid handshake, no confidence, and there’s no one telling them what to do every little move. No one’s there to tell them what to do next and so they stop at the point that they have the last piece of instruction and do nothing. That is not going to work around me. And that’s not going to work in a business ownership environment or in a entrepreneurial environment. You’re not going to have someone telling you what to do every bit of the way, you’re going to have to figure it out, you’re going to have to have initiative to make things happen when nothing’s happening. Sometimes you just need to make motion when nothing’s happening, just make something happen because in doing that you start to flow in the momentum, don’t be ridiculous, don’t take that comment to an extreme. Now, I guess I was raised with a father on a ranch and farm. It was a large ranch, large farm, we had large tractors, we had lots of cattle, we rode horses about every six or eight weeks and when we did we didn’t ride ’em again for another six or eight weeks ’cause we were not rodeo people. We actually moved cattle down a trail, we didn’t rope them, and we weren’t fancy people at all. We had the cattle, we owned them. And so in that, my dad would expect us to take initiative. He gave us a lot of responsibility. I look back now and think wow, the responsibility he gave us at very young ages, I don’t know if I would have done that. But he gave us and he expected us to have initiative. Little example, one time, I was probably only 12 years old, I was a big kid, I wanted to drive the tractor, the tractor was safe and I came in driving the tractor and I felt so excited that I was smart enough to recognize that we had a flat tire on this piece of equipment that I was pulling in the field. And I proceeded to get in the pickup truck, we could all drive at age 12, that’s no problem we’re big enough, we drove into the house maybe four or five miles in and I announced to dad, “Wow, we’ve got a flat tire.” And he looked at me square in the eye and said, “You didn’t figure out a way to bring in the tire “so we could fix it?” He was saying, “Take some initiative. “I didn’t ever tell you that you should bring in a flat tire “but it makes sense when you think about it. “We can’t fix the tire if it’s still on the implement, “we need to take it off the implement and bring it in “to get it fixed, that’s initiative.” I could tell you about a case in Wyoming where you’ve got to be careful. I was in construction, okay, so I was on the supervision end of construction. And I’m going to caution some of you bosses that when you have someone that has initiative and willing to take some steps, you can’t jump on him for every little move, you can’t call every shot. You can’t make them subservient to everything you tell him and then make him feel bad if they do something and it doesn’t necessarily work out or just because you didn’t tell him to do it. You’re the boss but you’re not the bossy person that’s making and stifling initiative. This happened to me, I’m inside with the… I was not the construction superintendent at this point, I was an engineer and we had a superintendent and we had a foreman and he was a nice guy but boy, was he hard-headed. And he would come in at break time, it was cold outside and we’d have a cup of coffee and he’d say, “Those guys, they don’t know anything.” And he was talking about the carpenters. “I have to tell them everything to do, “I got to tell them put a nail here and they’d nail it there, “and then I’ve got to tell him put a nail over here. “I’ve got to tell them every move to take.” Well he painted that himself because I watched him. He would go out and when the guys were out there, these were trained carpenters, they knew what to do. We were putting up forms so we could pour concrete and it’s important that the forms be made and held strong so the concrete doesn’t spill, that’s a real mess if it happens. But he would wait until one of these trained carpenters would drive a nail and it didn’t matter that the nail wasn’t exactly where the foreman wanted it, and he’d make him pull it out. “Well, that’s not where I wanted that nail, “you need it over here.” And I’m thinking, oh my goodness. Are you stifling initiative? You are stifling every bit of initiative, you’re making that carpenter say, “Listen, I’m going to wait ’til you tell me “every place to put that nail and I’ll nail it.” And guess what, those carpenters quit about three weeks later, they got tired of it. Let’s talk about Auto-Turn, I’m here in one of our manual part of our shop right now. It’s where we grind things flat and round. It’s called a grinding cell. We have grinding equipment behind me. And so here at our company, we try to instill some kind of a guideline to say, “Hey, take some initiative, we expect it.” If you’re going to get a raise at our place, if you’re going to get payroll increases, you’re going to be one that takes some initiative to help find ways to do things better. Now in any case, you’ve got to be careful that you just don’t blow the door wide open. And people do things that’s going to cost you a lot of money. Of course, we’ve trained about safety. You would never want someone to have initiative and do something that’s unsafe. So there’s some foundational truth that’s already got to be in place but when that’s done then you want to let your people free and encourage them to take initiative. I think you’ll find that they’ll take more initiative than you ever imagined if you encourage that. You know, every once in a while we’ll have a key employee and we’re thinking, “Man, we cannot do a day without that person.” That’s a bad thought pattern. You need to have cross-training, you need to have more than one person that can do every single job in your company, and we have that. Yet, there’s some people that are better at a job than another and we’re thinking, “There’s no way that we can do without this individual.” And then something happens and they’re going to be gone for a week and you know what? The people around them will take the initiative and figure out what needs to be done. I don’t go in there and tell him what to do. I have confidence in them that they will be smart enough, and trained enough, and observant enough, that they can take the initiative to get the parts out the door. I’ve seen it over and over again. They’ll get the parts made, they’ll do a great job without me dabbling in there and trying to make a mess of it. Well owning a business will take a lot of initiative. I’ve just got to encourage you that you’re not a candidate for ownership. Not everyone watching these videos or listening to these teachings are expected to be an owner, I’m not saying that. But they’re primarily to help entrepreneurship. And so you’re going to have to be willing to really dig in at every turn that you can and take more initiative than you ever thought you could have, if you’re going to own a business, You’re going to have to figure out your accounting without somebody holding your hand. Yeah, you can go get some help. You’re going to have to figure out how to do operations and sales, you have to be the jack of all trades. You have to be able to do many things and that’s gone take initiative. Don’t hold people back, let them go. Give him some guidelines, create some systems, but let them have the freedom to create initiative. Have initiative and if you don’t, you’ll lose him. Once again, the definition we’re using here is: recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked to do that. Thank you for watching and listening, we just ask you to be a part of this in any way you choose, Inspiring Better Business. Thank you.


  1. Thank you for sharing this profound truth. In todays world with intense competition personal iniative can be the great way to make someone to stand out.

    • Author
      Gary Shotton 5 years ago

      Yes, we need to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack in our lives and our work and our businesses. Thanks for your input.

    • Author
      Gary Shotton 4 years ago

      Your comments are very helpful. Competition is something that we really want to have, it is not our enemy. It will make us grow to a new level and cause us to dig deep for answers.

  2. Alla Pavetic 5 years ago

    I was blessed to have bosses who allowed me certain freedom to propose my idea and to solve some issues on my own without their constant supervision. And it really helped me grow. But! One of my bosses told me – you do it the way you believe it will be the best, but you are responsible for the result. Now, that is a true training!

    • Author
      Gary Shotton 4 years ago

      Alla, that is a great comment. If a person takes the lead, they also take the responsibility.
      thanks for your constant input and positive suggestions.

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