The One Trait That Separates Successful from Average

As a successful restaurant owner neared retirement, he had a decision to make. He could find a buyer for his restaurant, give it to one or both of his sons, or close it down altogether.

After carefully studying his options, he made the decision to pass his restaurant to his youngest son. When he pulled his sons into his office to deliver the news, he told them in no uncertain terms that the restaurant would go to the youngest son.

The older son erupted in anger. “How could you?!” he shouted.

After a few moments of silence, the father responded calmly, “Son, I need your help with something. We need more eggs. Will you call the Hopkins farm to see if they have any eggs for sale?”

A few minutes after receiving his father’s instructions, the older son returned and said, “Dad, the Hopkins farm has 20 dozen eggs for sale. What would you like for me to do?”

The father kindly thanked his son for his work. He then turned to his youngest son and said, “Son, I need your help with something. We need more eggs. Will you call the Hopkins farm to see if they have any eggs for sale?”

Much like his brother had done before him, the younger son did what his father asked him to do. A few moments later, he returned and carefully explained, “Dad, the Hopkins farm has 20 dozen eggs for sale. Each dozen will cost $3.50. They said that if we buy more than 25 units, they’d be willing to reduce the price by $0.50 per dozen. Also, if we need the eggs delivered today, we need to get the order in by 11 am. If not, they can have them here by 8 am tomorrow morning. I would suggest upping our order by 7 dozen, giving us 26 dozen at $3 per unit and 1 dozen for free. I also think we should place the order today, ensuring we’re prepared for operations tomorrow. Shall I proceed?”

The father kindly thanked the younger son for his work. He then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your brother is getting the restaurant and not you.”

The younger brother was awarded the business because he took more initiative. And initiative is the one behavior that separates the successful from the average. Most people simple do what they are asked. No more, no less. Only what’s minimally required to accomplish the task.

Those who are successful do more, do more right, and do it through to completion. Simply stated, successful people initiate. They call on others. They ask a lot of questions. They are active listeners. They share their opinions. They offer their assistance when and where needed. And they aren’t afraid to pitch their own ideas. Successful people are proactive, not reactive. They’re always on offense.

Yes, taking initiative will always involve a degree of risk. Voicing your opinion, doing more than what was asked, and pitching your ideas all require a certain level of personal and professional exposure, and there’s a real possibility that you or your ideas will fail. But what’s the flip side? Only doing the minimum? Always playing defense? Not taking additional responsibility? Taking no ownership?

More opportunities will find you if you live a life of action. Take initiative to do more, and to be more.

Will Adams

About Will Adams

Will Adams is the Marketing Director for Tarkenton Companies, and serves the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs through educational, consulting, and coaching services. He learns about his customers’ problems and finds ways to solve them, listening to customers, bringing new products and services to market, developing and managing strategic partner relationships, establishing sales and distribution channels, and managing revenue-producing initiatives, among many other things. His expertise in business operations encompasses retail sales, direct sales, talent acquisition and development, and general management.