Posts Tagged ‘Overcoming Hardship’

Initiative & Bias for Action

soccerArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

Years back I was at lunch with a woman who confided that she was in a good deal of debt. As we talked, I could tell that the debt was causing her a substantial amount of consternation, like a burdensome weight hanging heavily around her neck. After a long conversation, I asked her about her plans to get rid of it. Her response? “I’m hoping for a windfall”.

There seem to be two prevailing beliefs on how to get the things we want in life:  Some people are banking on their windfalls – to win the lottery, to receive that inheritance from the unknown relative, or just waiting for the right doors to open. Then there are others who not only are out there knocking on the doors they want to open but can often be found with a helmet on beating them down. When you want something, which way do you tend to lean?

I have to admit at times I’ve camped out in the first scenario. But I have a good excuse (don’t we always?). One Christmas about 7 years ago I received a phone call from a dear friend I hadn’t spoken with for years. She said they wanted to buy me a new car. She said to go pick out what I wanted then let them know how much it was and they’ll take of the rest. Not kidding. For a good time after that, it was hard to not to be on the lookout for more of these unexpected windfalls.

But reality is, phone calls like that don’t happen every day. And if there is something out there that we want, it usually falls upon us to take some initiative to make it happen. I like what George Bernard Shaw said:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

By now you’ve probably heard of the story of the boys from Koh Panyee, a floating village in the south of Thailand, who in 1986 wanted to become the world soccer champions. Problem is, they had no soccer field on which to practice, because of the limited space in their village that consisted of makeshift docks surrounded by water. A soccer field when there was no pavement or grass in sight? Seems impossible, right? But that did not stop the boys. They decided to build their own field out of every scrap piece of wood they could find. If you haven’t seen the short video – click here for one of the more inspirational stories you will ever witness:

How is your initiative and bias for action? Are you proactive and persistent at working toward your goals, or do you let procrastination and other hurdles keep you from acting on opportunities? Which of these characteristics best describe your methodology to achieving what you want? You:

  • are ready to seize opportunities and jump on them when they arise
  • have a hard time quitting something you’ve started
  • are happy to pick up new responsibilities that lie outside of your normal scope of work
  • not only reach your initial goals but go above and beyond them
  • refuse to procrastinate when you have deadlines to meet
  • plan ahead
  • are not overly cautious or unwilling to take risks
  • are able to bend the rules if necessary to get the job done
  • take action before outside circumstances force you to
  • are able to mobilize others with your enterprising efforts
  • want more out of life than your basic needs being met
  • consistently strive to do more and be more

Developing emotional intelligent traits of initiative and bias for action can be accomplished, one small step at a time, with the help of a coach, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and some good old fashioned hard work. But like the soccer-playing boys of Koh Panyee, the effort it takes is paled next to the reward of attaining your sought-after goals.


“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  –Winston Churchill

No one gets through life without hardships, setbacks, troubles, difficulties and sometimes even tragedy.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on.

It’s the ability to rise above adversity, sometimes terrible adversity such as violence, war, the loss of a loved one, loss of income, loss of household due to hurricane or flooding, or ill-health.

A key emotional intelligence skill, resilience can be learned and cultivated.  It builds on a number of other emotional intelligence and self-management skills, including personal power, optimism, agility, and having a bias for action.

Resilient people don’t let adversity define who they are.  Research on resilient people indicates they share certain qualities.  Here are 10.  They:

  1. Maintain a strong support system (friends, family and others), and are willing to accept help from others.  Others in a strong support system want to help.
  2. Practice extreme self-care.  Get enough sleep, eat healthfully, and take time for exercise and mindfulness.
  3. Define themselves from the inside out, from a place of strength and inner personal power.  They believe in themselves, and define themselves as capable, competent, and strong.  They dismiss or disregard the inner critic and instead maintain a sense of positive self-regard.
  4. They reframe the situation.  They try to find the good, the positive, the silver lining if at all possible.  One person said to me recently, “One thing I learned from all this is what an incredible array of friends I have, and how much they truly care about me.”  Sometimes they learn something about themselves and find they have grown in response to the adversity.
  5. They have the ability to manage their responses to strong emotions and impulses, and do so in a healthy manner (and not through drugs and alcohol).
  6. They are “school of life” learners, skilled communicators and problem-solvers.
  7. They view adversity as a temporary challenge, as something they will get through and come out on the other end stronger than when they went in.
  8. Similarly, they keep things in perspective.  They take the long view, the big-picture view, of life and are able to avoid thinking traps such as personalizing others’ behaviors, jumping to conclusions, or magnifying surmountable problems.
  9. Resilient people avoid seeing difficulties as insurmountable.  Rather they begin to set realistic plans and goals, and take small steps to move forward.  They have a “bias for action.”
  10. They accept change as the “new normal” – they know what is within their power to change, and what is not, and they actively work on what is.  They accept that change is part of life, and they are agile and flexible in response to change.

These are just a few tips regarding how we can support our clients in boosting their resilience.  If you would like to learn more, we are proud to announce a new course on Coaching Resilience, May 6 through June 10, 3PM ET, and proud also to introduce you to a new instructor who designed the course, Col. John Moore (Retired).

John MooreColonel (Retired) John Moore, CEO of Moore Strength Executive Leadership and Business Advisors.  John is an ICF Credentialed Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and an ACTP Certified Executive Leadership, Business, and Marketing Coach.   

As a West Point graduate, Army Officer, and Airborne-Ranger John has been leading successful organizations and developing leaders for over 30 years.

He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership Development from the US Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Arts in Strategy Studies from the US Army War College, and a Bachelor of Science from the US Military Academy where he was a distinguished graduate in the top 5% of his class.

John’s leadership in key positions within organizations ranging from 30 to 180,000 people was marked by courage and a commitment to excellence in performance and character.  He has combat experience at every level and was the operational Chief of Staff during the surge in Iraq in 2007-2008.

Upon retiring from the Army John founded Moore Strength Executive Leadership and Business Advisors where he has created models for developing exceptional leaders throughout organizations, creating positive organizational climates, and building steady business growth.

John’s broad leadership and operational experience in complex and demanding environments, leadership education, tenures as a leadership educator; trainer; and coach; and his challenging and accountable coaching approach uniquely contribute to client success and achievement.

He is trained and certified in Social and Emotional Intelligence through the ISEI and will soon be credentialed as a PCC.  He is a highly sought-after speaker and seminar leader on topics ranging from strategic planning, strategic communications, building high performance cultures, business growth, personal and organizational resilience, change management, and inspirational leadership.

The Resilient Leader:  Coaching Resilience Course Objectives

You will learn how to teach your executive coaching clients:

  • What managerial/leadership coaching is, and why and how it works
  • The tools and skills they need to develop to take a coach approach to leadership and management
  • How to conduct a coaching conversation
  • An overview of the leadership coaching process (including gathering data on performance, how to discuss and provide feedback on recent performance, how to develop an action plan for moving forward, how to implement the development / action plan and how to evaluate continued progress and performance)
  • How they can support and challenge their best performers to greater levels of success
  • How they can integrate coaching seamlessly into their everyday interactions with their direct reports
  • How they can shift their mindset from supervisor to coach

You can contact John at or by calling (913)217-5276.