"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How To Be Better Than Yesterday

"He only is a well-made man who has a good determination. And the end of culture is not to destroy this, God forbid! but to train away all impediment and mixture and leave nothing but pure power." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you believe it's possible to be 1% better today than you were yesterday? Think about it. What would it mean to be 1% better? You might say sure, of course! Or you might believe its not possible. Suspend judgment for now, simply consider the possibility and what it would mean.

To be better by 1% is not a literal concept I employ here, but more of a practical theme. The essence of "being better" would mean that if I am at least 1% more effective today than I was yesterday, then the challenges I faced yesterday will seem easier today. For example, if yesterday I was flustered and overwhelmed by client demands and objections to my product or service, then today I will be less so. Essentially my task becomes easier because I have become greater. Compounded over a period of days, weeks, and months you can imagine how powerful this principle can be.

Additionally, to be 1% better would mean that you can now extend yourself and take on greater challenges or aim at loftier ambitions. Because, we are better today than yesterday we naturally will want to be challenged, and will have an affinity to take on greater projects. The effects of the 1% better creed would create a "steady state" (to borrow a term from biology) were we would teeter between be overly powerful at handling yesterdays task, and not yet fully competent at dealing with the increasing demands of our evolving goals. This 'growth tension' is the optimal path which professionals should seek to continually create value for themselves and their respective endeavors.

The 1% creed can and should become part of your daily due diligence. Some of the ways to guarantee investment into your 1% daily growth are as follows:

- improve your vocabulary
- improve the sound of your voice
- improve your ability to articulate what you think and feel
- focus on listening to how people say things, not just the content
- learn to read a new, previously ignored, non-verbal communication from people
- learn about properly managing a certain emotion
- learn 2 new questions that can help close a sale
- learn how to play a different interpersonal role
- make 1 new friend and learn something interesting about them
- learn to 1 new way to harmonize your body
- eat a healthy meal instead of a your usual non-healthy one
- do something that frightens you, but that you know is worth the effort
- give more of yourself to others
- learn 1 new thing about your profession
- learn 1 new thing about self-management...

This list can go on forever, but you get the point. Everyday you can even break it down to getting a 1% fix for your body, mind, and profession. Before retiring for the day ensure that the 1% marks are hit. The principle is so subtle, yet so powerful that it could ultimately be the biggest difference in success or failure. Think about the cost of not becoming better. If we don't become better, by default we become worse. In biology and science they call it entropy. A system that does not absorb new information will only lose information and decay into inert energy-less matter. What makes us different than a mere inanimate system is that we have a choice. The choices are 1) gather new information and grow; or 2) lose information and decay.

Angel Armendariz

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