“We’re not trained to take risks, but we are trained to hold meetings, stop talking when we’re told to, and stay the course. We’re told to look for security and to silence our creativity if it speaks too loudly. Initiative hides from cultures and companies that ask us to fit in.”
-Seth Godin, The Domino Project
It isn’t natural for me to take initiative, it’s natural for me to take a seat. Good girls don’t talk about initiative. At least, not this good girl. I got good grades, but I was never the valedictorian or the president of any club. In group projects, I would do most of the work but I always waited for others to decide what that work would be. And when it’s time to pick a place to eat dinner, I may mention I’d rather not have Mexican, but anything else is fine with me. And it is.
I don’t think we have to take initiative in everything–pick every restaurant, be the leader in every group, always have the first (and last) word. I have known people like this, and we don’t call them leaders, we call them bossy. It’s okay to embrace our unique personalities with all of our own rhythms and preferences. It’s okay not to always be the one calling the shots.
What is not okay? It is not okay to live a small story because of fear. It is not okay to keep your eyes to the floor instead of lifting them up to the issues you are passionate about. It is not okay to remain where you are even though circumstance and passion and God all tell you to move.
Because as laid-back as I am about where to eat lunch, I am not so laid back when I listen to women talk about living their try-hard, worn-out lives and say it’s in the name of Jesus. I am learning to take initiative in conversations about calling and art and creativity and grace and how rolling all those beautiful things together makes room for the soul to breathe. And as I begin to trade my own try-hard for the soul breath, I watch as women around me do, too. And because I took initiative to talk about those things that make me come alive, I have been given a front row seat to watch as others do the same. I’m not the show, they are.
We all have a front row seat to something. If you are looking for security in sameness and control, then you may have a front row seat to fear or bitter. But there are other seats in the house and other shows to watch. We get to choose. And so I have to ask, where are you sitting today?