He took some initiative. She showed some real initiative there.
The gist of this concept is that you need to start (initiate) something yourself. Of course, your brain can trick you into believing that this relies on various conditions. The young apprentice may tell himself he is not qualified to start a new project. The exec may convince herself that she needs sign-off from the partner before anything can happen. This is in fact what the big corporate companies have set up to manage risk in the work place. Standardization of the workplace ala McDonalds’ production lines means that little goes wrong, but little is created in the mean time.
Hence we want to be our own bosses. Once you leave the comfort of a salaried low ranking job, never has the pressure to initiate something been so great. Publish an article, make a sales call, think of a new offering that will turn a profit and then find an audience that is willing to hear you.
Write a novel. Paint a picture. Initiate something from nothing. Show some initiative. Create
Important to understand is that the urgency of initiative (make a start and create something) is very different to the urgency of conformity (hurry up and wait for sign-off). We do what we do for the long run and for the freedom of being able to make something now, here, today if we can.