Improvement is important, especially to those of us who genuinely care about what we do for our occupation. If you’re anything like me, you may feel restless or uncomfortable when you are unsure of how to improve in your current role. Here are some suggestions:
1. Practice does not make perfect…but perfect practice does Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist, has spent much of his research time around the idea of improvement and practice. At one point, Ericsson looked at figure skaters and found that – even though a group of figure skaters were all on the ice for the same amount of time – the skaters who obsessed over getting better were the ones who distinguished themselves. Malcolm Gladwell also has conducted a fair amount of research in this area, asserting in his book “Outliers” that people can reach a level of mastery in a skill once they have spent 10,000 hours of focused time on a certain topic. In other words… don’t just practice… but pratice focused.
2. Spent time around others better than you Do you think Michael Jordan learned much practicing wih the third-string bench-players? Absolutely not. As the old proverb states, “iron sharpens iron.” It is absolutely necessary to be around people who push to become a better person.
3. Find a mentor Everyone needs a coach, a mentor, and a wise soul to help them along. Michael Jordan grew from having Phil Jackson next to him. Plato, one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen, was mentored by Socrates, an equally brilliant person. You get the picture. It helps enormously to have someone alongside you who has been through your experience in some way and who can provide guidance.
4. Raise the bar “Ok” is ok for a lot of people. However, if you really want to be truly special and extraordinary, ok must no longer be ok. Your new standard needs to be one that is unrelenting, uncompromising, and never easily satisfied. When we settle, we lower our own bar. Stay strong, expect the extraordinary of yourself, and set out to be the example for everyone else to follow! In the words of Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: If you’re not first, you’re last!
5. Be confident After all is said and done, confidence is an essential element to a person that kicks butt. Peggy Klaus’ book “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” is a great starting point and an easy read. If you’ve got it going on, stand tall and proud, letting others see that you’re the real deal. Own your future success now and let people know that you are strong – without being obnoxious or isolating.
What else ya got?