How to Improve? Invest…
“We need to do more this year — we have to improve these results and increase our revenues…”
“Yeah, I know — do you think we need to bring in more people?”
“Yeah, but we can’t afford to”
It is a familiar, albeit horribly over-simplified story. How is it possible to do more, with the same? Or even less?
I had this problem personally, and therefore with my own business. I wanted to achieve, to work with different people and a variety of organisations but when I looked at the cold, hard, facts — I wasn’t operating at the level I needed or wanted to. I’m not there yet by the way, but I’m much closer now than I was three or four years ago.
The only thing I could do, was to start learning. I started reading content online, getting hold of books, listening to podcasts, watching videos on TED.com and eventually looking at different courses I could attend. I ended up negotiating my way onto an MBA in International Sports Management at Loughborough University — if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
I learned so much from the MBA, but honestly I can say I learned as much, and gained confidence from the people who attended alongside me. So many different industries, expertise, passions were in the room it was impossible not to.
When I look back at the last few years, I couldn’t say that I’ve learned more using one method than another. But what I enjoyed the most, and remember the clearest, is getting my hands dirty and trying things out, and learning from others.
I put myself in the same space as more intelligent, more experienced people who I admired and learned from. I still haven’t had a formal mentor, or personal coach, but I’ve been lucky to position myself close enough that I might have. I will be forever grateful for their time and I have committed to repay that time and effort with anyone else who finds themselves in my previous position.
One of the biggest things I have learned is that improvements I have made and the opportunities that have been presented to me have come about because of determination, but also because of my commitment and enjoyment of learning. When I apply that to businesses, or future leaders that I talk to at the moment, I see so many similarities to where I was a few years ago.
For any individual or business looking to improve, the most sustainable and cost-effective answer to this problem, is to invest in people. Invest in learning, development, growth and this will ultimately improve performance. I will come back to this another time, but a useful phrase I use is “The Score Takes Care of Itself” — Bill Walsh, the legendary former coach of the San Francisco 49ers held the philosophy that if you took care of everything that mattered, the final result and performance would take care of itself.
But don’t forget — it starts with you. If you aren’t learning, and aren’t open to learning, how can you expect the people around you to learn, and therefore to get better? Do you not want to get better?
What are you doing about it?
An old coach of mine used to repeat the famous Henry Ford phrase to me:
“If you always do what you’ve always done,
You’ll always get, what you’ve always got”
Like the best things. It really isn’t rocket-science.
If you want more from yourself, you want more from your team or your people, then learning is essential.
But before you can learn, you must want to learn. You must believe you can learn. If this is a problem for you, then the first book / podcast / video I would recommend is Carol Dweck’s Mindset
I hope you enjoy it, and enjoy the journey of discovering about yourself, your interests and that you fall back in love with learning the same way I did.