It's About Time
To get better, evaluate how you did today
Are you satisfied with yourself, or do you desire and actively seek personal improvement?
In "The Majesty of Calmness," William George Jordan writes, "We try too much to surpass others. But the true competition is the competition of the individual with himself, his present seeking to excel his past."
For years I've been applying a very simple form of " kaizen" (the Japanese word for "continuous improvement") to areas of my life. To foster continual improvement in my presentations and seminars, I do a simple self-evaluation after each presentation noting 1) what went well, 2) what didn't go well and 3) how I could improve next time.
By doing so I can repeat those things that work and improve areas that didn't. I encourage my clients to do the same, whether for presentations, projects or any event important to them.
I also apply kaizen to my trips. I conduct a simple evaluation, usually on the flight home, on what went well, what didn't, what clothes I packed that were well worn and what items I didn't need. Doing this simple exercise has helped me to be more prepared and have smoother, more enjoyable trips.
In "How to Win Friends and Influence People," Dale Carnegie writes of a bank president, one of the most important financiers in America, who attributed most of his success to constant self-analysis. He devoted part of every Saturday evening to appraise his week.
He would review his engagement book and ask himself three questions:
1) What mistakes did I make that time?
2) What did I do that was right - and in what way could I have improved my performance? and
3) What lessons can I learn from that experience?
He says, "This system of self-analysis, self-education, continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted. It helped me improve my ability to make decisions - and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly."
This self-examination can be practiced by anyone. I made a follow-up visit to a former client and was greatly impressed with his progress. When I asked him the secret to his productivity, he answered, "At the end of the day, I always take time to reflect on what I got done and what I could have done better. That helps me to always be improving."
Whether evaluating a presentation, a project or your use of time or money, I encourage you to take a few minutes at the end of the day to evaluate how it went and what you could repeat or do differently the next time.
By doing so, you can experience and enjoy continuous improvement in your life and work.
See you in two weeks!
Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Contact her care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813, call 488-0288 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org