Ask the right questions, measure the right things…

“What gets measured gets improved.”

Peter Drucker

My post from yesterday was on my mind as I chose this morning’s quote. To improve (reduce) the dependence I have on digital devices means that I must measure where I am today, even if I might not really want to know the truth.

I’ve been a long believer in the old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Now I know that simply managing something isn’t good enough. You have to find ways to improve and the only way to do that is by knowing exactly where you are coming FROM so that you can make progress towards where you are going TO.

But understanding the measurement of where you are is only as good as your willingness to dig in and ask the right question(s). If you aren’t willing to face the truth, and willing to really see the answers, then you aren’t going to ask the tough questions that will help you discern the truth.

So to truly improve you have to ask the right questions, AND establish the right measurements that will serve to push you out of your comfort zone. Once you know the real truth, you can’t hide from it any more.

Seek counsel intentionally…

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Elon Musk

What is it that you do so well that you know that you don’t need to improve? How do you know this? Is it based on what people tell you or have you arrived at this answer by yourself? Be careful of any thinking that deludes you into believing that you have achieved a level of mastery that negates the need for further growth. That is the beginning of the end.

One of my favorite stories on this, and I don’t remember where I heard about it, was an observation that someone made about Ken Blanchard the leadership author and guru. Ken was attending a talk on leadership and was observed to be sitting in the front row taking notes feverishly, as though everything he was hearing was for the first time. Now here is a person that has achieved “Master Level” proficiency in a topic, yet he is seeking growth and wisdom as though he were just beginning. There is such power in this example for me.

This example addresses the second part of today’s quote, but what about the first portion? Who are the people that you listen to and seek feedback from? Do you you have a list of folks from whom you regularly seek out perspective, wisdom and insight? If you don’t then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do these three things RIGHT NOW.

First, pull out a pad of paper and create a list of people whom you respect and would welcome their insight and feedback about your performance and behavior. Write as many names as you can think of then circle the top five that you can engage with this week for step two.

Second, reach out to and have a conversation with those selected individuals and do two things. 1) Let them know that you are working to improve your skills and talents in some area and would welcome their perspective and insight. 2) Give them permission to provide any feedback that they might have, even if they think you might not want to hear it.

Third, when you receive feedback do the following with great focus. Sit back and LISTEN. Receive the gift you are being given without defense or the need to respond. Ask questions to help yourself understand their perspective. Do this without judging or responding immediately. Then do this most important thing. THANK THEM for this greatest of gifts, feedback and perspective and invite them to do it again.

When do you do these things consistently and well you will create a feedback loop that will sustain and grow your leadership for years to come…

Which list do you use?

“The problem or situation I am in may not get better, but I can.”

Johnathan Scott

This morning at church I heard the quote above during the sermon and it reminded me of this picture that a friend of mine shared with me on Friday.

The top list will never help anyone improve a situation or a problem. The bottom list might not solve the problem, but doing these things will make oneself better. And that is truly what matters…

Anchor your change in your “why…”

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

Aldous Huxley

When you are focused on improving are you doing it to serve yourself in order to get or achieve something? Or are you improving yourself with the perspective that through personal growth you can better serve others?

If you have read any of my posts in the past you know that I fervently believe that the essence of why we are here is to serve others. This can take many forms and styles and manifest in different ways throughout our lives. To serve more effectively we must grow and change ourselves or we cannot be all that God created us to become and thereby honor his purpose for our lives.

How does this relate to today’s quote? Change is hard, and personal growth is hard, and when you are embracing internal change, the kind that is done by pointing the finger at yourself and calling BS on your own shortcomings you have to have a deeply seated understanding of why the change is needed and who you are serving by taking on the change. If you lose sight of your why, then the change won’t stick or you’ll find yourself having walked down a path that isn’t aligned with who you are, and who you want to become…

Tackle the tough stuff first…

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
 
Jim Rohn
I have a long list of things I want to do better.  Things that I need to be better at in order to continue to grow and improve.  Wishing won’t make them happen.  I have to pick the two or three that are most important, or perhaps just the one thing, and then create a plan to make it better.  Then it is all about execution of that plan.  
The watch out is to ensure that I pick the right thing(s) to work on.  Picking the simple one because it is easy or fun, versus the one I really need is where the hard work comes in.  You have to tackle the stuff you might not want too…  But that is how you grow.  It’s the only way to grow.
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