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The Best You Can Be

"You are only an attitude away from success" - John Maxwell

My son received ‘Guitar Hero’ for Christmas a few years ago. He loves video games and this game became an instant favorite. For those not familiar with Guitar Hero, you have a replica guitar with colored buttons (instead of strings) that you push when the corresponding colored notes appear on your TV screen. After six weeks of playing this game, he was on the expert level and rather entertaining to watch.

Guess what he wanted to do next?

His dream was to be a rock star and he started saving for a real guitar. His mom and I decided we would pay for the guitar lessons to assist with his goal. Two weeks into guitar lessons he was not having the instant success he had with the video game. He was on the verge of quitting when I said to him, “Everything is difficult, until it isn’t.” He was only 11-years old and responded, “Is that from one of your workshops?  What does that mean?”  I went on to explain that any time in life we attempt something new or different, it starts out difficult until we get more comfortable and confident with the new task. Over time these undertakings are no longer difficult. Think about when you first learned the alphabet, drove a car, or presented to an audience. At first your new responsibility was challenging, but the more you practiced, the more you improved.

Continuous Improvement

There is no graduation date for a business professional. To remain at the top of your game, you must remain motivated, educated and highly skilled in your profession. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, states that the prerequisite for great achievement is 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before you can really master a subject area or skill. In order to grow, we must acquire new or updated information and apply it directly to our situation on a consistent basis.

Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term that refers to a philosophy of continuous improvement. “Kai” means change and “Zen” means good. The term kaizen translated at its fullest means ‘the willingness to constantly pursue improvement one small step at a time’. Napoleon Hill said, “Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.” The only way to improve is to implement your new knowledge. This can be done in the form of a commitment you make with yourself – a promise to take action on what you have learned. Focus on only one or two commitments at a time, as trying to implement too many changes at once can be overwhelming, decrease your efficiency and create anxiety. I find it helpful to share my current commitments with a trusted mentor who demands accountability and facilitates project’s completion.

21-Day Challenge

Making commitments and forming new habits is hard work. Changing any habit takes practice—framing, forming, and molding our minds to do certain behaviors that are repeated over and over again. From changing the way you open a presentation, coach an employee, inspire a team, or persuade a customer, you have to practice the new skill until it becomes a habit. The 21-day phenomenon is a concept that was developed by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of “The Power of Psychocybernetics”. Dr. Maltz discovered that you must persist in performing a new behavior for at least 21-days before a new behavior becomes automatic. This means there are no excuses for not practicing your new habit. If you miss even one day on your schedule you have to start over.

Success in business, as in life, begins with a commitment to continuous improvement and an expectation of accomplishment. Lou Holtz said, “Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” New challenges on a daily basis require us to continuously adapt and learn. Implementation of these new discoveries can be trying, but without this action, improvement will be impossible.

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