A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the Superintendent of the school district my children attend. The principal for the elementary school suggested to the Superintendent that she contact me to help redesign the district’s mission statement. I am very involved my children’s school and I was flattered and excited to be able to help support the forward vision for this amazing district. This also included designing a new values-based acrostic for their district mascot, the DRAGON.

I was one of 10 people involved in the meetings – the only non-faculty member. Currently, only 2% of the faculty could recite the Mission Statement of the organization so during the course of conversation the presenters would solicit feedback about size, scope, and content included for this guiding principle. Since I was the only non-faculty member, and education is a completely new industry to me, I initially wanted to hear what the feedback was from the group – crickets!  As this is not a new process for me to be involved in as it relates to retail – I started the dialog which eventually became collaborative and lively and led, mostly, by the teacher’s and faculty who will be living and breathing this mission statement starting the 2016/2017 school year. I accepted the invitation to be a part of this process because, frankly, it challenged me to read a lot and research what mission statements looked like in the highest rated public and private schools across the US and learn about something that I have never spent time thinking much about. AND I found I could bring some retail ideas to the table that absolutely could benefit the faculties and the students of this incredible district.

Initiative and creativity can change the world. They galvanize the realization of innovative ideas and support constant improvement and development. I love finding energetic retail business partners who are inventive, passionate, and enterprising while being proactive about and committed to excellence with everything they touch. Initiative correlates strongly with personal achievement and professional development. It is the act of taking personal responsibility for your growth, and it is a clear sign of your commitment and capacity to develop as a driven leader.


Taking initiative is about identifying and solving organizational challenges and opportunities without being asked and delivering remarkable results on those issues you choose to tackle. Initiative is about being able to speak clearly and concisely about your project and having a plan of action, that includes agility and adaptability, to ensure the delivery of exceptional results to every area of the business. It’s about bringing value to your organization or team proactively.

Initiative, generally, has four clearly defined elements:

  1. It means doing something about and beyond your job description
  2. Supporting other people, departments, or processes
  3. It involves calculated risk-taking and courage
  4. It is a full-cycle activity [start through completion]


  • They do their actual job extremely well: Great business partners who take initiative get their job responsibilities done first and have time and energy to spare to support and involve themselves in other endeavors.
  • Social initiatives are great but, exclusively, not career collateral building: Team members who show initiative and ambition at work understand that to add-value to the business they must take on obstacles and challenges that need attention. They may love being involved in planning and actively participating in workplace functions but to have an impact you need to support the growth and health of the business in addition to the fun parts. Your value will be recognized as growth focused by the solutions you bring to the organization or being the catalyst for improvement and sustainable impact.
  • A focused and committed understanding of the organization’s goals and objectives: Partners that are known for the competency of initiative are people that take action around the organization’s path and purpose. They can easily articulate how their initiatives tie into the health and future plan of the business.
  • They identify clear goals and measures for success: Effective team members define their goals and measure the success of their initiative very clearly. This helps in scoping the problem and effort requirements. Without clear definitions, most initiatives will end up wasting valuable time with no results to show, resulting in failure. When truly competent and driven employees take on work outside the normal scope of their role – they intend on delivering results and are generally methodical in their approach and measures of milestone success.
  • They are committed self-learners: Often times, great employees will take on initiatives that challenge and intrigue them. They are avid self-developers and learn what they need in order to find success in their endeavor. They are energized and driven to bring solutions and improvement to the business. These people also ask lots of smart questions of people who can support their plan and process.
  • They never stand still: They don’t wait to be asked to help out. These people generally don’t enjoy “down time” – and frequently, they are so skilled and effective in their roles that they can get them done in a very reasonable amount of time leaving additional time in their week to take on these new passion projects. They let action and results be their noise and define their personal brand.
  • They aren’t afraid to speak up: Great people are invested in the success of the business and will contribute to it in any way they can. These employees also understand that there is always a need to fresh and powerful new concepts in the business, especially now – when retail is experiencing such rapid change. People who are committed to the business and actively participating in supporting the organization are courageous and compelling. They can be a leader of influence to their coworkers and colleagues. Incidentally – great workplace cultures and executive/senior leadership encourages this type of environment.
  • They are great coworkers: People are inclined to support the business also have no problem helping others accomplish tasks and jobs they they are struggling with . Because they are so effective with their time-management and prioritizing they have the time and inclination to proactively help others and determine the best course of action to achieve the high possible results.