How to be #Better at Everything.

Of those that know me best, the concept of #Better holds an extremely dear place in my heart. The core belief being that all performances regardless if they are world-class or suboptimal can always be better. I find this an extremely powerful concept in that making the decision to be better, or that ask of others is a judgement free request. Simply said, one merely needs to believe that better is not a destination, but instead a journey of continuous iteration based on self reflection. The latter of the prior sentence being the key. Cue the Dunning-Kruger effect.

In 1999, psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger performed a series of experiments that demonstrated low-ability individuals rate their performances as significantly higher then actuals; while high-ability individuals ironically rate their performances well below.

As an introspective recovering introvert, the Dunning-Kruger effect absolutely fascinates me. Earlier in my career I envied the overly confident. Wishing I could caste away my self-doubts and instead blindly pursue my aspirations. It was only later in my career did I realize self-awareness, introspection, and humility is what enables the ongoing iterative process of #better. Over the years, I witnessed the overly confident stagnant, while those committed to toiling upon themselves continued to progress along the journey of #better.

In any journey there are tools available to aid the adventurer, some more critical then others. The retrospective (retro) is the single best tool to aid us all in being better at everything we do. Its a powerful feedback system in disguise; in which teams are more likely to provide feedback without judgement.

I attempt to retro any meaningful deliverable that iterative improvement is desired. The Square Payment team is one such example, best illustrated with our commitment to iterate on how we rationalize and subsequently communicate our work. After each written 6 week review, we quickly huddle. We keep the good, discard the bad, and take specific actions to make the next one more concise, articulate; with less effort. Fast forward several iterations we are spending less time preparing, while yielding a document that better articulates the toils of our team’s last 6 weeks.

I often privately retro after meetings, using it as a personal reminder to be embrace the first principles of self awareness, introspection, and humility.

I retro my personal life as well, with my Wife & I doing so each Sunday. While not conventional, its proven to be an incredibly effective tool in facilitating honest conversations that all marriages should strive towards.

I could go-on, but I will exercise restraint. The take-away is “ABR”, always be retro-ing. It is the single best technique to encourage the growth mindset and provide the required focus in achieving the iterative pursuit of #better. With it we are able to refine who we are. Editing better versions of ourselves, our teams, and our products into the world.