The Power of Initiative


When I was a teenager, I'd normally wait around for instructions from my mother or father to tell me what chores needed to be done. In my house I didn't necessarily have assigned tasks, but my sister and I were always expected to help in whatever was needed. 

In all honesty, I didn't like to do much other than read, study and play. I was always a curious observer of the outer but mostly my inner world. I remember trying to understand why it was that my father seemed to enjoy fixing things around the house, even the car, while I remained completely uninterested by those things. Whenever the washing machine, the blender, the iron or the car needed attention he would take his tools, take the thing apart and figure out what was wrong with it and fix it. Most of the time he successfully fixed all these mechanical things to my amazement! He had no background in engineering and was not a mechanic.

One day, after seeing me wait around to be told what to do, my father shared a valuable lesson: he taught me the power of initiative. I don't recall exactly what he said to me that day, but I remember clearly what he was pointing out. He taught me not to wait around for someone to tell me what to do, knowing I can do something to be of help. His main advice was to be of service and to take action without waiting for someone's approval. 

Last night, I read a short book by the Indian yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda called The Law of Success. In this short but powerful book (that can be read in under 30 minutes), Yogananda shares what he calls truth principles to attain health, happiness, and spiritual enlightenment. A brief chapter on the creative power of initiative transported me back to the time my father shared his lesson with me. 

Yogananda states that success in life is not dependent on ability and training alone; it also depends on our determination to grasp opportunities presented to us. Once aligned to Divine Will through meditation, we can make use of our powers of thought and personal will to achieve success. 

He describes initiative as a creative faculty within us; a spark of the Infinite Creator that gives us the power to create something no one else has ever created. Initiative enables us to be free and independent - one of the attributes of success.

Initiative started to sound a lot like innovation to me. They both share the quality of being an internal spark of creativity; a push to initiate something new! Innovation is touted much these days, yet I feel innovation is talked about a lot, but not a whole lot is done to put in motion. Probably because we're all so busy doing what we're doing. And when we do get inspired to innovate our fear prevents us from taking action. A thought my strike us that tell us it's 'safer' to just keep doing what we're doing. 

Fear exhausts life energy. It's described by Yogananda as the greatest enemy of the dynamic will power. My understanding of the Three Principles has taught me that fear is only a thought - and thought is something fluid. One has the ability and power to give life to a thought or ignore it and wait for a more productive thought to give life to. Yogananda says, "When the consciousness is kept on God, you will have no fears; every obstacle will then be overcome by courage and faith."

To make our will dynamic, Yogananda prescribes the following: 1) choose a simple task or accomplishment we'd like to succeed at; 2) make sure what we choose is constructive and feasible, then refuse to consider failure; 3) concentrate on a single purpose, using all abilities and opportunities to forward it. But always being sure that what we want is in accord with Divine Will.

For Yogananda, success is measured by happiness. And happiness equals peace of mind. We do not have to wait for our circumstances to change, thinking falsely that in them lies our troubles. If we possess happiness we possess everything; to be happy is to be in tune with God.

God is a word I had a lot of thinking about just a few months ago. I've realized my thoughts about the word God were limiting and were preventing me from experiencing what's shared beyond words. Today, I hear the word God and simply think of the energy that animates everyone and everything. This energy that has infinite creative potential and we have total access to because it created us and is creating through us. 

Fernando Perez