THE IMPROVEMENT IMPERATIVE
If you want to have better outcomes in life you must become a better person. If you desire to have better children you must become a better parent. If you want more fulfilling relationships and want other people to treat you kindly, you must develop better people skills. If you want to gain the respect and admiration of your peers, you must become better at what you do. If you want your subordinates to do better and perform better, you must become a better leader.
The tragedy of our generation is that everyone thinks of changing the world but few people think of changing themselves. Many people long for the day the leader will change his leadership style, but few are prepared to effect the improvements they need to effect in their own characters. Improvement is at the very core of winning in the game of life. In this issue we take a closer look at laws of improvement.
The Only Person You Can Improve Is You.
The most important fact you need to remember about improvement is that the only person you can improve is you. It does not matter how much power and influence you wield, you cannot add or subtract a centimeter to a man’s height. Similarly, you cannot change or improve anyone. You can and you should encourage people to improve, but in the final analysis you cannot change or improve them. The only thing you truly have the ability to improve is you. When you improve the circumstances of your life will also improve. However, herein is the greatest of all miracles-When you improve everything around you will get better. This being the case, it behooves us all to seek to improve ourselves first before we clamor for other people to improve.
Improvement Is Personal
Even if your father was a school headmaster you still have to learn to read and write for yourself. You do not automatically become literate just because your parents were educated. Even if your grandfather was a tall man you still have to grow for yourself. In much the same way improvement is a personal matter. No one can improve on your behalf. Empowerment and affirmative action have become the catchwords of our generation, but unfortunately an obsession with empowerment sometimes makes us lose a sense of personal responsibility. Programs can be put in place to make it easier for people to access resources, and thereby improve their chances of improving themselves. This is a commendable thing. However, in the final analysis improvement is a personal matter. Certain things can simply not be delegated to other people. Personal improvement is one of them. You have got to grow and mature for yourself. When we are young a lot of things are done for us, but when we grow we assume responsibility for the most important things in our lives. Our parents and mentors cannot improve on our behalf, they can only improve themselves. However, anytime you wish you can begin to improve.
Change is Inevitable but Improvement Is Optional.
Change is inevitable. It does not matter whether you hate it or love it; or whether you resist it or co-operate with it, change will come. This is not so with improvement. Improvement is possible, but improvement is not inevitable. We are all born with a capacity to grow and become better at what we do, but the fact is that not all of us are actually significantly better than what we were last year or a few years back. Yes, we are all older but we are not necessarily wiser and smarter.
Improvement is not a function of age. Age and time alone will not necessarily make you a better person and improve the outcomes you get out of life. Improvement is optional. It is a deliberate choice that one has to make. The only way you will grow is when you choose to grow and the only way you will improve is when you make a conscious and deliberate decision to improve. The million dollar question is-when did you last make a conscious decision to improve. If you can answer that question you will also be able to point out the ways in which your life has become better pursuant to that decision. Although personal improvement is optional, the results that accrue towards you because of that improvement are not optional. Our results are always in direct proportion to the improvements we make in our lives.
Improvement Brings With it Upward Mobility.
Improvement generates forward thrust. It is a fact of life that you cannot improve and at the same time remain where you are. The tendency in life is to grow quickly and then reach a plateau. We all try to find a comfortable resting place where we have tolerable stress and adequate security. However, often improvement demands that we at least temporarily sacrifice that comfort and security. The tragedy is that most of us are comfortable where we are, indeed so comfortable that we have ceased to dream of the greater possibilities that personal improvement could yield. Personal improvement generates forward thrust but unfortunately personal improvement also means departing from the familiar and comfortable shores. Personal improvement today is the bedrock upon which a better tomorrow is built. Complacency today is the grave in which your potential shall be buried tomorrow.
Improvement Is Not Automatic
Life is very interesting. We are given only one opportunity to be young, but we can remain at the same skills level indefinitely. You can be young only once, but you can be immature infinitely. There is one and only one good reason for this. Growth and improvement are not automatic, whereas age will automatically increase every minute. Since improvement is not automatic, you will remain where you are unless you have a personal improvement strategy. As Rabbi Samuel Silver admonished, ” We need not be tomorrow what we are today, but we can improve if we make use of the potential,implanted in us.”
Personal improvement is the key to a better future. It is an imperative that we cannot wish away.