Updated: Jul 25
I felt immensely proud of myself just another day for stopping a fight between my 4-year-old and my one-year-old. But the funny thing was that when I tried the same technique the next day - it did not work! At all!
What it made me realise, that instead of watching my kids and looking for some special unusual cues, I thought to myself: “Ha! I know how to handle this.” And I failed.
My complacency served me a poor service.
Then I stumbled on a very good article from a book: Making Strategy Work. The CEO of Domino’s Pizza, David Brandon, was talking about his experience with a sports coach who always tried to push his team to be better next time. Regardless of whether they lost or won the game. And it’s such an excellent tactic. When you always thrive towards a better version of yourself, you don’t have time to fail, or feel sorry for yourself, because you are learning. Everything is a lesson. And it’s great.
"If you're not getting better, you are getting worse." - David Brandon, Chairmain and CEO, Domino's Pizza
Continuous Self-Improvement is the antidote to complacency!
1. Benchmark your success and aim to get better than you were yesterday
Learning a new task is rather daunting. Day in and day out you try but no progress is obvious. But what if you decide to master one thing to perfection before moving onto a next task?
If you are learning to draw like I do, why not take one simple flower that takes five minutes to draw and practice drawing it every single day? And see what happens. Strive for self-improvement every day. I bet you will get there.
You might find Micromastery book useful as it talks about making tiny steps towards success and improving one micro task at a time.
2. Find people you admire (dead, alive or fictional) and imitate their style
Why not choose someone you admire immensely and see what you can borrow from them? Their character, vocabulary, style, behaviour, language, attitude, laugh, charisma? Why not steal it from them and apply to yourself? They won’t mind and even if they find out about it, it might flatter them.
“If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” ― Austin Kleon
3. Always thrive for self-improvement
Did you ace that ratatouille for dinner last night? Great, well done you! Instead of repeating your success from the night before, see if you can make it better. Add additional herbs. Introduce a new side dish or research a complimentary bottle of wine. Whatever pushes you beyond your comfort zone, beyond complacency. It will help you get better and learn many interesting things along the way.
4. Pretend you are a carefree and impressionable kid
Remember watching kids trying an ice-cream for the first time? If not - Google it, it’s totally worth it. The sheer mind-blowing amazement in their whole body. You cannot fake it. It’s all consuming. It takes over your senses, whether you are experiencing it for yourself or merely observing it. It’s contagious. What if you apply that childishness and naivety to yourself? Be a child. Imagine every mundane task you do - you do it for the very first time.
How would you react?
What would you feel?
How would you do it? Would you try a crazy new way of putting socks on? I know I will! Putting socks on when they are inside out is my child's favourite joke. We laugh every time she does it.
5. Always be curious
Nothing is boring. Nothing at all. The most boring excel spreadsheet could be turned into the most fascinating toy if we look at it from a different angle. If we keep on asking ourselves simple questions, such us:
Can I learn anything from this?
Is there anything I don't know?
How can I do it differently?
Is there a new way to complete this task?
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence." - Albert Einstein
6. See opportunities in everything you do
Imagine magic was real in this world. You walk out of the door and it’s raining. But you snap your fingers and tag-dah! The sun is shining. In all honestly, our real world is not too far from magical. If we see opportunities in every single situation we encounter, we can create magic, or something similarly dreamy and exciting. Instead of resenting a task, see what you can do with it. Yes, putting washing away sounds a bit “meh”, but if you do it with earphones in while listening to a podcast or some great tunes - it’s a different story, isn’t it?
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." – Winston S. Churchill
We often become complacent when we think we know something. We did it once and it worked, so it sure thing would work again.
But it's not as simple as that. It might or might not work. Hence we always need to be on a lookout for new ways of doing things.
Self-improvement should not be a chore, it should be a way of life. And if we can make it fun, full of adventure and curiosity - there is a chance your life will feel like a lovely walk in the park on a sun lit day.
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