Resilience: 16-Initiative 

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Resilience: 16-Initiative

Lesson Title:

Taking Initiative: Empowering Personal Agency for Growth and Success

Vocabulary Word:

Initiative – The proactive and self-driven ability to take action, make decisions, and initiate positive change without being prompted or guided by others.

Lesson Content:

Preparing for success after prison requires initiative. Do you have the initiative necessary to succeed after prison?

Some people in prison believe that since they were successful before confinement, they don’t need any initiative while serving the sentence. Instead of using initiative to create a plan, they simply wait for calendar pages to turn. 

Those people believe that once they leave prison, opportunities will open. If they fully comprehended the challenges ahead, they would understand the importance of taking the initiative early.

In all the lessons we create at Prison Professors, I write that I never ask anyone to do anything I didn’t do. Even though I was serving a 45-year term, I knew I had to take the initiative early. If I didn’t prepare, I knew I would conclude my sentence and return to society with many more problems.

Since I knew I wanted to work in advocacy, I had to lay out a self-directed plan. That plan required me to focus on getting an education, contributing to society, and building a solid support network. If I executed that strategy, I believed that more opportunities would open. If I failed to take the initiative, I would return to society with few options to succeed.

Taking the initiative requires us to think about the possibilities in our life. What is the best possible outcome? If we can answer that question, we can take the initiative to lay out a plan. 

And if we have a plan, we can take the micro steps that lead to success.

We need initiative, a powerful quality that propels personal growth and success. It involves being proactive, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and initiating positive change. By cultivating initiative, we empower ourselves to create opportunities, overcome obstacles, and achieve our goals. By developing a strong sense of initiative, we build a proactive mindset and set our foundation for a successful life after release.

Understanding the concept of initiative is essential for personal development:

  1. Proactivity and Self-Motivation:
    Initiative stems from being proactive and self-motivated. It involves taking charge of our life, goals, and decisions. People with initiative are self-starters, driven by a desire for self-improvement and personal achievement. They do not wait for others to tell them what to do but instead take the lead in pursuing their aspirations.
  2. Embracing Responsibility:
    Initiative goes hand in hand with responsibility. It means taking ownership of our actions, choices, and outcomes. People with initiative understand that they have the power to shape their lives and are accountable for the results they achieve. They embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and are willing to step outside their comfort zones.
  3. Identifying Opportunities:
    Initiative requires the ability to recognize opportunities and seize them. It involves being observant, open-minded, and willing to explore new possibilities. People with initiative actively seek ways to contribute, improve, and positively impact their environment. They are resourceful in identifying avenues for personal and collective growth.
  4. Overcoming Obstacles:
    Initiative empowers individuals to face and overcome obstacles. It involves problem-solving, resilience, and adaptability. Rather than being deterred by setbacks or challenges, individuals with initiative approach them as opportunities to learn, grow, and find innovative solutions. They display a determined mindset and persist in pursuing their goals.
  5. Leadership and Impact:
    Initiative is closely tied to leadership and making a positive impact. Individuals with initiative inspire and motivate others through their actions and achievements. They lead by example and create positive change in their communities. They contribute to a culture of growth, innovation, and empowerment by taking the initiative.

Questions and Activities: Answer as you deem appropriate

  • How do you understand the concept of initiative?
  • Why is taking initiative important for personal growth and development, particularly during imprisonment?
  • Share an example of a situation in prison where taking the initiative helped you overcome a challenge or create a positive change.
  • How can developing initiative help you prepare for a successful life after release?
  • What strategies can you employ to cultivate and demonstrate initiative during your time in prison?


Think about a goal or aspiration you have for yourself during your time in prison. Write down three actionable steps you can take to initiate progress towards that goal. Consider how taking the initiative can help you overcome potential obstacles and contribute to your personal growth.

Identify a situation in your daily life where you can take the initiative to make a positive impact. It could be helping a fellow inmate, organizing a group activity, or suggesting an improvement in the prison environment. Write a brief plan of action outlining how you will take the initiative in that situation.

Remember, taking initiative is an empowering mindset that drives personal growth and success. By being proactive, embracing responsibility, identifying opportunities, and overcoming obstacles, you empower yourself to shape your own future. Embrace the power of initiative during your time in prison and carry it with you as a lifelong trait for success.

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