Monday, September 9, 2019

Motivation and initiative

I might have been 13 or 14 when I first ran into the word "initiative". Today, I mostly see the word in connection with collective action efforts, as in something like "gun control initiative".  But I first met the word in a Boy Scout book, possibly the Boy Scout Fieldbook. It was being used in connection with what today might be called "entrepreneurship", starting a business or other organized effort or project but that use was broader.  It was referring to the person who stepped forward and helped, the person who saw a problem before it was officially labeled and started fixing it.

The explanation promoted a personal characteristic, a willingness and a developed habit of recognizing needs and opportunities and having what it takes to start open efforts to satisfy the need and take advantage of the opportunity. The habit and the courage needed was praised and I agreed that I wanted to have "initiative".  

Writing about this, I remembered, with assistance from Google and Amazon, the name "Kitty Genovese". In 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed on the street and others heard her cries for help but she didn't get any help.  There are many books and articles about the incident.

I find that a quiet meeting with myself, as in modern, secular, meditation is an excellent procedure for looking directly at my life.  I was surprised to realize over the past year or so, that our lives, our education and our culture are filled with abstractions, such as "career", "religion" and "occupation".  As I looked at the abstractions, I realized that many quietly assumed drives and goals were not things I had purposely chosen. It may be my age as well as my ponderings and personality, but it seems that anyone who looks carefully at life, can see that many typical prods and measures of success are vacant and artificial.  I could see how "flower children" and "hippies" of the 60's and later might see modern, technological, dollar-dominated life as an unappealing fraud. When we hold up making one's first million by age 35 as exemplary, we urge acceptance of that picture and downplay many other paths and histories as showing lack of initiative.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby