Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reacting, Responding & Initiating...

Seth Godin got me thinking about the following...

Most of spend our days doing one of three things:

* Reacting to external situations

* Responding to external inputs

* Initiating new events or ideas

So, think about your team. Something happens in the outside world. An angry comment, or a disappointed church member, or a flaming email...

Do you react to it? How much of your time is spent reacting to what people say in meetings or emails?

The rest of your day may be spent responding. Responding to a request for proposal. Responding to a form in your in-box. Responding to emails. Responding is gratifying, because you go from having something to do ---> to having something done. There's a pile in a different spot on your desk at the end of the day. You responded to the needs of the team you lead, or you responded to password-change requests, or you responded to the person you report to.

And that's it. You go home having done virtually nothing in the third bucket.

We tend to reserve the third bucket, initiate, for quiet times, good times, down times or desperate times. We wait until the in-box is empty or the next quarter's objectives are due (at which point the initiative is more of a response). It's possible to spend an entire day blogging, and emailing, and on the phone... and never initiate a thing--just respond to what's coming in. It's possible to spend an entire day (actually it's possible to spend a big chunk of your life) doing nothing but responding...

Take a look at your Sent folder. Is it filled with subject lines that start with RE:? What about your blog--does it start conversations or just continue them?

What did your team or church initiate today?

What did you initiate?

Think about the changes you'd have to make (uh oh, initiate) in your day in order to dramatically change the quantity and scale of the initiatives you create.