(By Bob McCurdy) In search of better. I came across these four words in a Seth Godin blog recently and they really hit home. The subject of self-improvement has intrigued me my entire career. These four words encapsulate the actualization process of becoming what we’re capable of becoming, both personally and professionally.
In 1982, Tom Peters was also “searching” when he wrote the book, In Search of Excellence, which was a huge bestseller. Is the search for “excellence” and the search for “better” the same thing? Close, but not quite. “Excellence” is defined as a “state of excelling,” more akin to having already attained, achieved, of being. “Better” are the incremental milestone improvements realized along the way on the path toward excellence.
In search of better should be a career-long commitment to elevate our professional job responsibilities, whatever they may be, to an art form. This quest is chronicled compellingly in Jiro: Dreams of Sushi. You can view a trailer here. If you have yet to view this, it is well worth the time. It is well worth the time even if you already have. It’s the best $2.99 you’ll spend this year.
Some things to consider in your search of “better”:
– Remember, it’s a personal journey. Compete with yourself and your potential. Never compare yourself to others. What they do and accomplish is beyond your control and nothing more than a distraction.
– It needs to become a habit. It’s about incremental improvement. Take an extended vacation from it and you’ll fall behind. Strive to identify, uncover, or learn one work-related knowledge nugget each day. This adds up over weeks, months, years.
– It’s easier with mentors. They don’t need to be in your company or even alive. If they happen to be above ground, reach out and engage them. You’ll be surprised at how receptive they’ll be to your questions.
– It requires discipline and resilience. Both will be your wingmen on your path to “better.”
– It entails eliminating self-imposed limits. Eliminate them before they serve to eliminate you.
– It requires not trusting happiness. Circumstances change. A resolute commitment to “better” insulates you from the unexpected. Contentment is for the retired.
– It is a bone-deep commitment to narrowing the gap between what you’re currently accomplishing versus what you are capable of accomplishing.
– It is understanding that small, incremental improvements will generate outsized returns. The best thing about sales is that you don’t need to wait long to reap them.
– It’s about the ABCs. Always being curious. Curiosity broadens your insight and perspective. Both are necessary to become “better.”
– It requires practicing and rehearsing. “Better” is about learning new things but it’s also about making sure to retain mastery over what you’ve already learned.
– It is purposeful striving. “Better” is not an accident.
– It is understanding that the biggest room in your house is the room for improvement.
– It requires seeking out feedback, embracing it, and acting upon it, good or bad.
– It entails a few minutes of good old-fashioned honest daily reflection.
– It welcomes the difficult. Easy won’t make you better.
– It must include digital mastery.
– It involves reading, but just as importantly, retaining. Develop a system to retain what you’ve read.
– It looks kindly upon the impatient. “Better” doesn’t happen to those who wait.
– It requires taking control of your own learning; only then will you fully take control of your professional life.
– It recommends that we knock our commitment up a notch or two. It is okay to set aside some time on the weekend, morning, or evening for professional development; and this time needn’t come at the expense of family time.
– It is more readily attained by those who effectively manage their time (see immediately above).
– It contends that we try new stuff, experiment with our approach, and challenge our routine. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Then either adopt or discard.
– It requires being uncomfortable with being comfortable.
– It has no finish line — and that’s the best part. The path to “better” has a beginning but no end.
These four words can serve to guide both our personal and professional lives. It is a thrilling, gratifying adventure that often leads to accomplishing what was initially thought to be unattainable.
Any company or team collectively searching in unison for “better” will soon find themselves in the midst of something extremely rare, special, and gratifying. Unlike the search for Sasquatch or the Loch Ness monster, the search for “better” will be much more fruitful. Why not begin the search today?
Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.