We all dream of a tomorrow that's better and brighter than today, yet many of us never go beyond hoping for improvements to actually making them. Following are some insights from motivator, speaker and author John Maxwell to help you improvise your approach to improvement. Develop Habits.* The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. Leaders who make successful improvements form habits of daily action that those who fail to improve never develop. As Andy Stanley says, "Your direction determines your destination." The steps you make each day, for good or ill, eventually chart the path of your life.
- Befriend Discipline. We live in the ultimate quick-fix culture. In life, there are two kinds of pain: the pain of self-discipline and the pain of regret. The pain of self-discipline involves sacrifice, sweat, and delayed gratification. The reward of improvement softens the pain of self-discipline and makes it worthwhile. The pain of regret begins as a missed opportunity and ends up as squandered talent and an unfulfilled life.
- Admit Mistakes. When trying to improve, we not only risk failure; we guarantee it. The good news is that mistakes generally teach us far more than success. None of us is perfect! That's why it's important to be honest when we fall short, learn from the mistake, and move forward with the knowledge gained.
- Measure Progress. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Identify the areas in which improvement is essential to your success and find a way to track your progress. Keeping score holds you accountable and gives you a clear indicator of whether or not you're actually improving.
- Change Continually. Continual change is essential for improvement. One of the great paradoxes of success is that the skills and qualities that get you to the top are seldom the ones that keep you there. The quest to improve forces us to abandon assumptions, embrace innovation, and seek new relationships. If we're complacent for too long, we'll fall behind the learning curve.
Keep in mind that the desire for improvement naturally has a degree of discontent in it. Personal growth also requires a flexible mindset, including the humility to realize you have room to grow, but also enough confidence to maintain that improvement is possible.
Source: Adaped from John C. Maxwell, "Improvising Your Approach to Improvement", Leadership Wired, Vol. 11, Issue 13.