Develop the mindset and skills for action, not reaction.
Entrepreneurship, sports, and personal protection all share fundamental principles that, at first, may not seem to have strategic parallels. However, looking more closely through a universal lens, you'll see that they have a common thread.
As an entrepreneur or business owner, a constant initiative is needed to find customers, cultivate strategic partnerships, manage their experience, and create future opportunities to gain and maintain market share. Essentially, this means you must have the ambition, the skills, and a proactive mindset to develop a plan. From a strategic perspective, a reactive mindset is ineffective. The implication of waiting for opportunity or waiting for something to happen (consciously or unconsciously) means you will ultimately end up behind your competitor's action and momentum.
Strategic Initiative is a vital factor in creating an advantage and greatly influences success no matter the endeavor. Reaction or defense only, does not.
In personal protection (the parent to self-defense), it's fundamentally necessary to initiate a range of operations in order to create and hold an advantage.
Control the flow
An example taken from the game of Go, originating around 5,000 years ago, holding the initiative is known as having "sente" (SEN-tay) — the leading moves that control the flow of the game (or situation). The individual in a situation that isn't initiating and creating an advantage with direct action is in a state called "gote" (GOH-tay) — responding to the flow of a situation or action. This is the philosophical equivalent of offense and counter-offense in fighting. Thus, having "sente" is about initiating strategic maneuvers ahead of your adversary, in a way that offers protection at the same time, to create an overall advantage.
Ahead of time
The majority of self-defense training offered today (and the mindset conditioned from it) is that it's mainly a response to an attack already initiated in contact range or an attack already applied (i.e. holds, chokes, take-downs, etc). This essentially means you haven't placed yourself in a position of advantage ahead of time – it lacks initiative. In a business context, it translates to not having created or maintained an advantage in the marketplace.
Watching self-defense training videos on YouTube, you'll quickly notice that the overwhelmingly majority examples respond to an opponent's action. That context is essentially a form of learning based on a position of disadvantage. And, yes, a certain percentage of the time should be spent training within a counter-offense context (approximately 30 percent). However, it's comparatively less effective to concentrate the majority of your training and operations from a defensive mindset. What's missing is the knowledge and preemptive action needed to identify possible threats and create an advantage in the first place. Strategic research, assessments, planning and decisive action will create a more familiar (influencing your situation awareness) and favorable environment in which to act.
Whether you plan your travel route, maneuver covertly, or identify/strike a threat first, taking action before the opposition acts will be more advantageous. It may sound completely obvious, of course, but it may not be ingrained in your everyday conscious or subconscious as it should be – and that's the key.
Those that only ever respond are placing themselves in a position of disadvantage.
It doesn't mean we should walk around town and hit the first person that asks for directions (just in case). Instead, and while we may physically act in what appears to be as "responding", you will still need to be mentally and physically proactive in various social environments. Initiative and self-reliance should be taken with every step and every interaction. It may simply translate to maneuvering without having to engage a threat at all – whether it's a verbal confrontation or an actual combative situation. This mindset and action is brought together through strategic knowledge and training enabling you to perform the right set of skills at the right time (which requires a training method).
The bottom line
Increase your level of knowledge, control your situation, and succeed more often. Take the initiative.