The truly great athletes often focus on an area where they can improve and work on it to get better in the off-season.
But there is no off-season in business, so any time is a good time to examine how we can improve in our professional lives. These are some of the areas I regularly look at.
Get better organized. I am a habitual packrat. My filing system is piles … one pile for each project. And that’s a lot of piles. I like to joke that I never lose anything; I just misplace things. But I am vowing to do better in 2023. And if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Eliminate or reduce distractions. Productivity’s number one enemy is interruptions. Set aside a period of time each day – even if it’s only 10 minutes – when you are unavailable for anything less than a four-alarm fire. That goes for office visitors, telephone calls, email and carrier pigeons. There is also the option of coming to work early or staying late.
Read more and embrace learning. People’s lives change in two ways – the books they read and the people they meet, according to a fellow member of the National Speakers Association, Charles “Tremendous” Jones. I’ve always said that libraries are an untapped gold mine. Your computer, tablet or phone offer unlimited reading options. Knowledge is power.
Build deeper relationships. You can take all my money! You can take all my factories! You can take all my land! But leave me my network of relationships, and I’ll be back to where I was today in three to five short years. I’ve worked constantly to build relationships. It has served me every day of my life in ways I could never have imagined.
Volunteer. When you volunteer, you always get back more than you give. Volunteering has made my life so much better, and I suspect that anyone who has become passionate about a cause will tell you the same thing. People who do volunteer work are inclined to be go-getters and consistently report being happier and more contented. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, student or professional, working your way up or at the top of your game. Needs abound wherever you are. Don’t just make a living, make a life worth living.
Practice humility. As Will Rogers used to say, get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far. Humility is not difficult to practice. It doesn’t involve downplaying your achievements. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be recognized for your contributions. It does mean that you realize that others have been involved in your success, and you are prepared to be involved in theirs. You start by giving credit where it is due. The co-workers who participated in the early stages of a project surely deserve some recognition, and the folks who mopped the floors and kept the lights on so you could work late are team players too.
Find role models or teachers you can learn from. Mentoring can change your life – and theirs. Mentoring means helping less experienced people observe, experiment and evaluate different ways of doing work to find out which strategies work best. And the benefits are not limited to young people. People of all ages can gain from the guidance of a more experienced person, even someone younger than you. A mentor can help even experienced managers boost their job performance and advance their career. And remember, mentors change over a lifetime.
Set a goal and work toward it. Ask any successful CEO, superstar athlete or winning person what their keys to success are, and you will hear four consistent messages: vision, determination, persistence and setting goals. Set your goals for the year, for the decade or for the rest of your life. After all, if you don’t set goals to determine where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
Follow your passion. Passion is at the top of the list of the skills you need to excel at whether you’re in sports, sales or any other occupation. When you have passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal. If you don’t have a deep-down, intense, burning desire for what you are doing, there’s no way you’ll be able to work the long, hard hours it takes to become successful.
Mackay’s Moral: Even the best work hard to get better.