When I was a child, Mother (who either believed she was on the cutting edge of learning and psychology or just hoped we would grow up quickly) made my brothers and I repeat daily the phrase: “Every day in every way, I will get better and better and better.”
Because we were often in trouble for fighting with each other or doing those mischievous things that young, energetic boys do, Mother thought we should write lines. On top of saying this mantra daily, we often had to write it out 100 times or more, depending on the severity of our misdeeds.
To this day, I will sometimes catch myself reciting, “Every day.…”
Continuous improvement, whether we’re individuals or organizations, is a key factor in our success. Whether we’re trying to be better people, spouses, parents, athletes, coaches or leaders, the change is incremental and doesn’t happen overnight, despite our wishes for immediate change.
Similar to characters in a fairy tale, we wish we could wave a wand and our problems, challenges and struggles could be over. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Let me explain.
I have a client who has a business. Even though it’s making money, it’s been a struggle for him. I have another client whose business is quite successful. I’ve been working with both companies for several years, and they have both stated publicly that my support has been helpful. Yet there’s a difference between how each company approaches changes to business.
In the first case, the owner wants big changes and to hit a home run. He’s often looking for the magic pill to solve his problems. He’ll try something once or twice, and often if it doesn’t stick immediately will discard the idea and want to move on to something else.
As a professional business coach, this is difficult to watch. I believe if the owner of the business was more persistent and determined, his initiatives would have a greater chance of success.
His motto might be: “Every year, in some ways, we get better and better … sometimes.”
The second client is more persistent and determined. He measures and monitors changes he tries to implement. There are initiatives that haven’t worked and projects that have failed. However, I’ve witnessed over time that because he isn’t in a rush, there’s continuous improvement. It’s due to his ability to be patient with change and give things a chance to succeed. He doesn’t expect to wave a wand and get a pot of gold. He’s diligent about keeping his team accountable and is disciplined in his approach to focus on one or two initiatives at a time.
His motto might be: “Every day in every way, my business is getting better and better.”
The first leader is often stressed when I sit down with him. He often can be found complaining about his employees. But when I ask if he’s doing what he said he would do to keep them accountable, I get a negative reply.
The second leader, although he has over 10 times as many employees, never seems overly stressed. He has regular meetings with his key managers and keeps them accountable to moving forward in their journey, to improving their departments.
Continuous improvements in staffing isn’t the only area we work on to reduce our stresses. But when we work towards small changes rather than big ones, we can get results that are impactful.
When I had my retail business, we strived for continuous improvements. The incremental changes and the fact that we worked as a team on just two or three initiatives every three months improved the culture of the work environment, boosted the confidence of the managers, and allowed us to look back over time and feel a sense of success!
Whether we’re working on our organizations, our businesses or ourselves, coming up with plans and goals for what we want to achieve is paramount to our success.
Every day in every way, continuous improvements can have significant impacts that will make us better people and better organizations.