Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
One of Stone Ward’s guiding principles is to “find a better way.” The goal is not perfectionism, but rather improvement. And I think we’d all agree that we like “better” – in every area of our lives. So why then, in our work, should we need a constant reminder to find a better way?
Much of the time, finding a better way takes no more than a willingness to accept that the way you’ve always done something isn’t the only way. A few moments of introspection could reveal that your attitude has become a stumbling block. Holding tight to one’s conventions because of pride could cause you to miss the blessings that follow humility. Admitting the need or desire for someone else’s help or thinking is not a weakness, but rather an openness to put your own needs aside for the betterment of someone or something else.
Sometimes, it’s not our mindset at all. We know that a better way exists, but lack the motivation to put in the effort – or time. Time for research. Time to apply more brainpower. Time to change our routine for continued improvement. In a very deadline-driven environment, it’s easy to delay what doesn’t seem immediately necessary. And even easier to avoid stepping outside of our comfort zone and upsetting the apple cart, so to speak.
So, what are some of the actions you can take to ensure you’re always seeking a better way?
- Be a student. Reading and exploring what others have found successful can spark ideas you might want to try for yourself. If you find a website or blog that inspires you, start following them on social media or subscribe to receive updates. This allows their helpful information to infiltrate your daily life in small, digestible bites.
- Take control of your schedule. How easy is it to chase your inbox all day, only to reach 5:00 and realize you didn’t tackle any of your “want-to-do’s”? Maybe your job allows you to spend the first 15-20 minutes of each day in research and exploration or maybe you need to close out your days that way. You may find that the only way to create a consistent habit is to schedule time looking for new ideas or ways to improve your work.
- Observe and ask questions of those around you. I have no doubt there’s a wealth of knowledge around you, but you may only speak to co-workers in passing or at lunch. If you overhear someone describing a process that intrigues you, don’t be afraid to ask them to show you that process. Many people don’t volunteer or suggest their methods to others for fear of being rude or intrusive, but it’s quite a compliment for someone to take interest and ask to be educated, so seek those opportunities!
What are some of the ways you stay accountable to constant improvement? Leave us a comment and share the knowledge wealth. After all, two heads are better than one; four heads are better than two. Look forward to hearing from you!