How To Get Better In What You Do: Never Waste a Crisis
We know what we are doing.
We know the fundamentals. We know the moves. We have experience.
That’s what makes us professionals and specialists.
That’s what makes us good.
That’s why we get our jobs, why clients hire us.
So that we routinely do and apply what we know and are capable of doing. In this way, we help them to produce good results quickly.
Doing a good job, however, is not enough in the long run.
We have to constantly learn a little more and become better.
How do we get better?
1. Use it or Lose it: Practise. Practice. Practice.
When we recall and apply our routines, know-how, knowledge and patterns of success and action, we are in the comfort zone. The more automatically we master all this, the more comfortable we feel. So the task is to constantly use and deepen our routine craft, our knowledge and skills. We have to practise our actions constantly and as consciously as possible. So that in an event of need we use them as unconsciously and safely as possible and deliver as the professionals that we are.
2. Feedback — Evaluate — Feedback — Evaluate — Feedback…
Intentionally practising within our comfort zone makes us confident in familiar situations. In order to learn new things and to prepare ourselves for unfamiliar, uncertain terrain, it is necessary to regularly and mindfully step out of the comfort zone and into the learning zone. This means deliberately and consciously exposing ourselves to those unpleasant, uncertain situations where we cannot know what to expect. In which we cannot control everything. In which we are challenged to act outside our usual routines.
By experiencing such “crises”, we learn something new about ourselves and our world. We add new routines to our existing ones. This makes us more flexible, more adaptive, more experienced. In other words: better.
The best way to do this is to demand constructive feedback, to expose our ideas, our designs, our work to relentless criticism as often as possible. Customers, clients, colleagues, suppliers, acquaintances, friends: Everyone who can and wants to give us genuine, candid, unsparing, but just helpful, constructive, positive, critical feedback is suitable for this:
“Let’s be honest now:”
- “What do you think?”
- “How satisfied are you?”
- “What did you like? What didn’t you like?”
- “What was good, what was bad?”
- “What could I have done differently?”
- “At what point? When? How?”
Or at least we always question ourselves critically:
- “Is/was this really good enough?”
- “What can I, can we/must we do differently, better?”
- “At what point? How?”
- “What do others do differently? Why?”
Because this takes place outside our comfort zone, it is at the very least upsetting and often unpleasant. It plunges us into emotional crises.
Professionals, however, can take it. Because they know that these crises are the only way to get better.
The only way to be a professional.
About the Author
Photo by Edgar Rodehack
Edgar Rodehack is a teamwork enthusiast with a preference for Agile forms of collaboration. So it’s good that he does this for a living. He is an organizational consultant, business and agile coach, moderator and facilitator. Also, he’s married with three kids, and he really enjoys making music, writing and reading.