I just returned from a weekend in Bend, OR where I joined 21 other individuals for a Leadership Retreat led by Eric Plantenberg. Â It was amazing for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest takeaway I got is the realization that sometimes the best thing you can do is just take some time to sharpen your blade. Â I was definitely a huge advocate of continuous improvement andÂ personalÂ developmentÂ on Thursday when I arrived. Â By the time I left on Monday I was an evangelist.
We were there to dig a little deeper into the curriculum of the Abundant Living Retreat. Â As a staff member for this event, one of my roles is helping facilitate some of the exercises that attendees take part in. Â I would consider myself fairly competent at helping people with this, and I think this mindset gave me a false sense of confidence and was limiting my ability to be a great facilitator. Â I say this because about halfway through the second day of the retreat, I TOTALLY picked up on many new ways to help people in their exercises. Â These new skills will help make me a better facilitator, AND they have instilled a new level of confidence and competency in me.
All too often, individuals get in a groove with their profession. Â I have seen it in dozens of industries. Â Bike Dealers and Suppliers who rely on “what we’ve always done” to try and sell more product. Â Accountants and Financial Services professionals who only focus on technical training for continuing ed. Â Medical staff that only participate in procedures and routine checkups in order to “stay on top of things”. Â Or here’s my favorite, “We’re just so busy and don’t want to add any more to the plate”. Â Yeahhhhhh… I don’t think your plate is full. Â I think you are trying to eat sloppy lasagne off of a cheap paper plate. Try doubling that thing up. Â Or better yet, use a real plate. Â By real plate I mean make yourself a better professional. Â When was the last time you spent some time on YOU?
In order to DO your best work you need to BE the best you that you can. Â Taking time to focus on you will lead to incredible success. Â Here’sÂ justÂ a few tips for how to improve you:
1. Â Practice Gratitude – Spend time regularly focusing on things you are grateful for. Â This could be family, friends, food, laughter, tears, work successes or even just finding that penny on the ground or that $5 bill in your pocket. Â The more you operate from a mindset of gratitude, the more you open yourself to being able to accept success when you find it (or it finds you).
2. Â Read – Read regularly. Â Read a lot. Â I don’t disagree that technical training and know-how isÂ absolutelyÂ crucial to success. Â There is so much information out there, and so much of it is in books and on the Internet. Â After all, you found this post, didn’t you? Use books and technology to hone yourÂ technicalÂ skills. Â Here’s a great book to start with. Â Once you finish it, then be sure to:
3. Â Get Off the Reservation – At least once a year (and preferably 2-3 times), get away from everything you know and attend a workshop, seminar or retreat. Â PreferablyÂ somethingÂ that is NOTÂ indigenousÂ to your industry. Â This is where the best learning happens. Â It’s more than likely you will be there with other like-minded people on the same path. Â Talk to them. Â Learn from them. Â Experience the curriculum with them, and then (and this is KEY!) keep in touch to hold each other accountable. Â Now go re-read that last sentence. Â I have seriously lost count of the number of people I have met that spend thousands of dollars on “training” only to forget the content a few days or weeks later simply because they didn’t take the time to review it and put it into practice. Â Guess what. Â This is the most expensive of the options I listed and it’s also the one with the biggest ROI.
These are just a few things that have worked for me. Â What are you doing to keep your blade sharp? Â Better yet, share a story on how much fun you had mowing down your business (or better yet, your competition) after the last time you sharpened your blade.