The great explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, once received a letter from a aid group. It read, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.”
Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come even if there is no road at all.” Livingstone was saying that the people who wanted to work with him would have to show the initiative to come to him, he wasn’t going to show them the golden road.
Earlier this summer I got a call from one of the members of the fraternity I was in when in college. I now serve on the chapter board. He was wondering if I knew of any of our alumni who might have an internship available; I had already pointed a couple of members to opportunities.
I told him that I didn’t know of other opportunities, but that the board was starting an effort to get in touch with other alums and we could use his help in putting together that effort. I pointed him to an alum who has the information he needs to get started. And, that’s the last I’ve heard from him.
I keep telling young people—and people of all ages who come to my seminars—that initiative is the most scarce, but most appreciated skill/value/quality, in today’s workplace.
If you are waiting for someone to show you the best/easiest/fastest road to success you’ll probably be waiting a long time. Because, the person who is clearing the road, the one who is making it happen, is more than likely up at the front of the road still hacking their way through the jungle. They don’t have time to walk all the way back to you, take you by the hand, and walk you back up to where something needs to be done.