I’m re-reading my favorite book of all time for at least the 10th time; Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden. Likely the most decorated sporting coach in history and perhaps the most underrated teacher of how to embed his coaching principles into ones daily life. Coach Wooden was a savant in the science of human interaction and had an ability to create a selfless culture of winning through personal sacrifice and desires. His pyramid of success is something I suspect I’ll study forever and is a framework I work diligently to apply to my life; both personally and professionally. That said, initiative is one of his foundational building blocks – something that breeds failure – which in turn, leads to success.

The definition of initiative; the power or opportunity to take charge or do things independently. But how does one “take charge” or “do things independently” is the secret sauce for winning.

For me the recipe is simple:

  • Take action without direction: The founder of Nike, Phil Knight, says it best “just do it”! Leave the strategizing to masses. If you want to win and crush your competition, you must act! And don’t wait for approval or rebuttal. Momentum breeds momentum. Do something, anything! Just do it.

  • Those actions need to generate outcomes: “Touching Base” is for baseball players. Outcomes are for winners. Every action taken must have a planned sequence of outcomes that lead to your goal. Anything else is a distraction and leads to wasted time.

  • Make it personal: be crystal clear out the outcomes you’re pursuing. This is about “you” and you own the result of “you” – no exceptions. Be humble, educated and diligent. Then surround yourself with a community of others who share the same attributes.

“Initiative means having the courage to make decisions and take action. Simple as that. Keep in mind that we all are going to fail at times. You must understand this and not fear failure. None of us are perfect. But if you are afraid to fail you’ll never do things you’re capable of doing. If you have thoroughly prepared and are ready to give it everything you’ve got there is no shame in failure – and nothing to fear in that failure. But fear of failure is what often prevents one from taking action – from us initiative. I truly believe that failure to act – lack of initiative – is of the greatest failure of all.” – John Wooden

Be quick but don’t hurry.