Continuous improvement is difficult but not impossible.
In almost every case, continuous improvement follows a formula of measurement, analysis, planning, practicing the new adjustments, implementation in real life situations, and then a return to measurement, as the cycle repeats. To achieve a long run of continuous improvement, coaches are always involved. Even the best of the best, dominant professionals such as Tiger Woods, Lebron James, or Lionel Messi, live within this never ending cycle of coaching.
We know this commonsensical truth in our role as parents. In today’s America, keen competition both in sports and in the classroom demands that many do whatever is needed to give their kids an edge. We hire many coaches for our kids. Our kids join “select” or “club” sports teams, primarily to learn the sport the right way, to get coached, so that they have a chance of success when they grow up to become high school and college level players. Other kids who are focused to excel academically are also coached, not only by teachers at school, but by after school tutors and academic tutoring enterprises. Many tutors specialize in coaching kids for entrance exams to competitive high schools and colleges.
Adults seek coaching as well when it comes to sports. Millions are spent on golf lessons and tennis sessions. The bottom line is when someone is looking for an edge, coaching is invariably involved.
But what about our careers? What happens at work?
If a critical path to your success is giving great stand-up presentations, does anyone, especially someone that is a true professional at presenting, give you hard biting feedback and demand that you incorporate the feedback next time out? Is your improvement measured and analyzed?
If you are a medical doctor, does anyone coach you on how to improve your bedside manner and really relate better to your patient?
If you are a corporate manager, does anyone watch how you interact with your key employees and give you great tips of how to improve, as a manager, to get better motivation and results?
If you are a preacher, do the churchgoers let you know if your message hit home, and will be remembered, this fine Sunday?
I find that the answer for most everyone answers “no” when asked about improvement and coaching in their career. Yet, the same career that is most critical to living a good live, educating one’s children, and retiring in comfort. At work, no one measures, no one analyzes, no one coaches, and no one is serious about making plans for improvement.
How do you get better if you get little to no feedback?
One path is to say “So what — I’m good at what I do.” That’s fine if you want to be within one standard deviation from the mean, but usually, becoming top 10% is needed, and the top 1% is where the serious money is made.
The truth is that you must become proactive, you must become creative, you must seek out ways to get valuable feedback and coaching. What gets measured gets improved. How can you measure how well you are doing? How can you get honest advice? What can you do to get continuous feedback?
You can become world-class at what you do. To get there, you must take initiative. Please send me an email and share what program you invented for yourself to become world-class at what matters most in your career.
I.M. Optimism Man