One of the things that I have learned on the journey of constant improvement is that there is a lot of great insight in the world. The more I read the more I realize how there are some incredibly smart people in the world, willing to share their most prized knowledge.
For people like myself, we get hooked. We read and read and absorb as much as possible while gaining experience to help us form our own perspective based on many viewpoints.
It is through this that I credit my ability to improve. Most people that I know don’t really improve. They simply keep doing what they are already doing. They don’t grow and improve and accomplish more and more. I know because that is how I found myself in my twenties. I was naïve but thought I knew it all.
In Thinking in Bets by professional poker player Annie Duke, Duke says, “Experience can be an effective teacher. But, clearly, only some students listen to their teachers. The people who learn from experience improve, advance, and (with a little bit of luck) become experts and leaders in their fields. I benefited from adopting the learning habits of some of the phenomenal poker players I was exposed to along the way. We can all benefit from those practical strategies to become better decision-makers.”
Duke makes a great point about improving. Most people that I know only try to learn when they absolutely have to. And even in these scenarios they usually sit back and try to mold the information into their predetermined beliefs.
If, instead, we can take the insight available from others or through experience, and then use that to help us adjust, we will be better equipped to keep improving and getting better.
So when someone makes a claim that you disagree with, what is your response? Are you the type to immediately jump in and start arguing with them because you know you are right? Or do you have a curiosity that allows you to express your opinion but also learn from the other person’s viewpoint?
We all have exposure to great lessons in life that can help us live a life of constant improvement. We can keep stretching what we know and test these assumptions. Then we can analyze the results of these assumptions and make adjustments.
This is the model that was used by Dr. Edwards Deming, the famous American engineer who gets credited for helping mold the Japanese manufacturing process. He used a process that relied on a cycle that he labeled as Plan-Do-Check-Act.
The idea is that we search for a better way to do something so we start planning it out. We come up with an idea that might help us. So we incorporate that change in our life and then monitor/check the results. If the results are positive, we then incorporate the change in our regular routines and systems. Then we start the cycle over again.
This allows us to keep improving. We keep going and going and getting better and better with each step. We can learn from our experiences and learn from the knowledge of others.
Over time we can start to drastically improve how we function and how we go through life. This is the basis of the systems and habits approach to improvement – constant improvement in the way we learn and apply those lessons in our lives.