The only way to get into the elite performance category is by making significant continuous improvement on a regular, consistent basis. This means a rock-solid commitment to making small changes and improvements on a daily basis, with the faith and confidence that these small improvements will equal the sum of something much improved and significant.
I have seen many clients approach improvement by setting very large goals and then attempt huge leaps to accomplish the large goal in as little time as possible. This always sounds good in the office or conference room as a proposed theory, but unfortunately, it often ends in frustration, anger, burnout and sometimes accusations toward co-workers about not contributing enough or making a large mistake.
The way to focus on continuous improvement is to slowly and slightly adjust our normal everyday habits and behaviors. I have seen many clients put up the argument that making slightly better decisions on a daily basis will not be enough to help them climb the high mountain ahead. After all, getting to a superior place on fundamentals is not exciting or sexy. Making a small percentage point of improvement will not create excitement. The one thing I can tell you is: it works. Here are three keys to keep in mind when contemplating making these adjustments to achieve the goal of improved performance.
1. Don’t get bored with what is working for you
Many performers I have coached have had the bad habit of waste. While their passion and desire to reach the top of their industry or profession was deep and real, they failed to leverage all the available resources available. Some of them changed this and some didn’t. The ones who could make this adjustment continued their rise into elite status while the others remained flat to stagnant. There are so many examples of behaviors that have the opportunity contained in them to drive progress in our careers and lives if we just did them with more consistency every day. Never miss a reading time. Execute your fundamental business tasks every day, not just when you have time or feel like it. Write thank you notes each week.
Increased levels of performance and progress often hide behind boring rhythms and tasks you have grown tired of or that you think are boring. You often don’t need a new plan, just an attitude adjustment of doing more of what has already worked for you consistently.
2. Reduce the number of things you do wrong
Improvement and increased performance is very often not about doing things better or more right but rather in reducing the number of things you don’t do right. This is simply a process and a habit of looking objectively and often at things that are amiss or that don’t work well or advance you and your results. This could be eliminating mistakes, reducing some complexities or stripping away things that have been added over time that are now unnecessary.
You can often increase your productivity by cutting the downside instead of capturing more upside. Subtraction is sometimes way more practical than addition. One of the best strategies to make big gains is to avoid tiny losses.
3. Build looking back into your regular rhythm
In my coaching experience, something that is often overlooked is the power of the post-mortem. All too often, we spend too much time looking forward but not near enough time looking backward to evaluate what happened and why it happened. When you effectively spend time looking backward, you can make decisions on what has happened rather than what you want to happen.
This is where lagging metrics can play a large role in your success. What did you do last week? How can you improve by just a little bit this week? In your regular rhythms and flow, build in some time for reviewing a couple of time frames. Look at last week, last month, last quarter and the last 12 rolling months.
The main thing to remember is to maintain your passion and love for what you are doing. That should help you when the temptation comes around for boredom or to shake things up just to shake things up. Do the things you need to do to remind yourself of what business you are in and why you are in it.
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