Initiate Before You Respond

I have rules for myself about email. One of which is not to check email in the first or last few hours of the day.

I prefer not to check in the morning because I want to focus my energy on initiating and creating. Creating is hard work, and I’m usually tempted to go to email as a way out of the difficulty. It’s much easier for me to respond to incoming emails than it is to create and initiate things that matter.

Responding is what emergency personnel do to a 911 call. Responding is what you do when a glass gets knocked over at the dinner table. Responding is what you do when you realize that your parking meter time has expired and you see someone writing a parking ticket.

Responding requires all of your attention immediately.

There’s a big difference between responding and initiating.

Initiating is much more difficult.

Initiating is creating. Initiating is stepping into the unknown. Initiating is about making something that hasn’t been before.

Initiating is scary and vulnerable.

They both can be hard work, but initiating is consistently more difficult and will consistently lead you to places that you need to go.

Spend your energy to initiate before you respond.[tweet that]

Some of the challenge of finding and doing your work is to create space for you to initiate. Some of us have jobs that require so much responding that we don’t have a chance to initiate. Creating more space to initiate may require that you show up in new and different ways.

For me, it starts with not checking my email and doing the harder work instead. It’s sometimes hard to stay in the initiating phase, but it’s well worth the effort.

How about you? How do you initiate before you respond? What’s the hardest part for you? Click here to comment.

(Photo by Angelo DeSantis/CC)

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  1. Bill Swan June 26, 2014 at 11:06 am

    This is phenomenal, and I think it will actually be hugely helpful for me in some roadblocks that I’ve been running into. Love it.

  2. Sandy Fick June 27, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Timely and excellent words that neatly pachkage thoughts that have become increasingly insistent lately. Love the paradox- I find myself first responding to this email, so I can move toward initiating first.

    1. Dan Cumberland June 30, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Thanks Sandy! I was smiling to myself when I hit publish about the irony of this going to inboxes all over the world, hoping that this message would be helpful amidst the noise and demands. I’m glad you found it so 😉

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