Sunday, January 15, 2012

Do. Improve. Repeat.

If you've been following me on Twitter for any length of time, you've read these three words before:
Do. Improve. Repeat.
I call it my "mantra." I've used it in just about every aspect of my life. Of course, it's my personalized version of "Practice makes perfect" or "La práctica hace al maestro" or "Kaizen," but with emphasis on a central step: Reflection and the conscious intention to make the next golf swing, guitar riff, kata routine, blog post or paragraph better than the last.

Every day presents a new opportunity to get better at something, whether it's being a better follower, leader, thinker, writer, golfer, musician, student, manager or martial artist (or whatever it is that you've chosen to apply yourself to). It seems to me that this is a common thread among the people I have admired throughout my life: They have worked on the things they find valuable, and have tried to continually improve not only for themselves but for others as well.

I realized long ago that practice doesn't guarantee you excellence as compared with the greats. I found out that I'd never be a major league baseball prospect, or a pro golfer, or lots of other things I might have enjoyed. But knowing I can't be the next Jack Nicklaus doesn't stop me from heading to the range and trying to get better. It's easy to put yourself on "cruise control" when you reach a certain level in your chosen profession or hobby or sport, and many people do. It's not my way.

Does this make me better than other people? Absolutely not, and that has never been my goal (especially because it isn't possible). It only makes me better than my "yesterday self."

If there's some area of your life, be it hobby or work, that draws you on and makes you try and try again, think about why that is, and see if you can't bring the desire you feel there into other areas of your life.

I would thoroughly enjoy hearing about your experiences.
Give it some thought.

Golf practice photo by Roy Atkinson

1 comment:

  1. Roy, I thoroughly agree. My variation of this is "make a little progress each day." inevitably the more you do something -- if you care about it -- you get better each time. And that leads to a more solid understanding of your strengths and where you should be focusing your time and energy. These three words are a great guidepost for getting there.