You have probably heard the joke about the man that prayed to his God to win the lottery day after day with no result; after the 5th straight week of not winning, in frustration, he screamed out that God was not listening and he even doubted His existence; just then a voice from the sky said to the man “you have to buy a ticket”. The book shelves of most books stores and libraries have a long list of titles to help you work on improving what every skill you wish to perfect. Whether it is how to hit a golf ball straight and long, give a better presentation, how to be a better leader, or how to be more collaborative, you can take advantage of centuries of experiences by reading what others have to say on a topic.
However, if you are looking for a few quick steps that you can begin using right now, try these:
Important Note: you must begin any change with this thought in mind; “if I want to be able to do this well eventually, I have to be willing to do it poorly in the beginning? ” Far too many people begin to change something and find out they cannot do it very well, so they quit. They quit before they have a chance to get a little better, then more better, then good, and then really good.
- Write out exactly what you want to change about yourself, why and how. Putting in writing what you want to change, why and what you need to do about it is very important to the actual change process. E.g. I want to increase my customer loyalty by calling 10 clients each day or I want to develop a better relationship with each of my employees by talking with each of them individually and in person at least 3 times a week. Make a list of what activity you must to do to change. Keep it to one or two maximum, any more and it will be too daunting a challenge.
- Start doing what you want to improve and call it practice. We have all heard, practice makes perfect but what is truer is perfect practice makes perfect. We call it “practice” because you are not going to do it well in the beginning. You should expect imperfection in every new change until you have done it often enough that it becomes automatic to you. Most professionals will tell you they have a practice to prime-time ratio of approximately 10-20:1-Ten hours of practice to one hour of prime time (athletes, speakers, Doctors, Tradesman, etc.).
- Accept failure and keep trying. You are going to have missteps and embarrassing moments, but they are just moments, so pick yourself up and re-read your description of what you want to change and why, and keep going. Persistence has overcome more obstacles than knowledge ever will.
- Increase your frequency by doing or visualizing. The more you do something the more your behavior will change. If you can add visualization of the activities you want to do better and see a positive result, you will improve your ability to do that task faster.
- Measure your progress and look for successes. Keep a log, diary or journal of your activities; what you are doing and what are the results for each day or week. As you progress, you will see improvement, write it down. Others will begin to notice and make comments, write it down. If you begin to falter, go back and read where you started. See how far you have come and then work through your current position—be persistent.
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