What are your consistent practices for growing, improving, and becoming the best you can be? Bill Taylor, founder of Fast Company, talked about three traits of extraordinary leaders. One of those traits is being an insatiable learner, possessing intellectual curiosity.
Unfortunately, the daily demands of work and life can make self-improvement efforts seem like a luxury. Who has time to stop and think about how to improve or work on what needs improving?!
Here are three actions to help you jump start your growing process.
- Get a Coach –There is a fascinating TED Talk by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who went on a journey of improvement in the face of complexity by paying other surgeons to come into his operating room, watch him, and then critique him afterward. Through his experience he learned that “coaches provide a more accurate picture of your reality.” Gawande says, “I think it’s not just how good you are now–it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters.”Just as top athletes and performers work with coaches, top leaders use coaches to make them as effective as possible. Research shows that 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, better relationships, and more effective communication skills (source: ICF 2009).
- Grow in who you ARE, not just what you can DO – View the process of pursuing growth as a critical step in the journey of becoming who you really are and what you were meant to be. Becoming the best possible version of you doesn’t happen accidentally, you must make time.We’ve been coaching an amazing leader who recently commented, “The concepts behind leadership have to be lived into. I chuckled at myself while on the train heading home. I realized that even though I have come to understand that leadership is about being, rather than doing…I have been trying to “do” my way into “being.” Practice makes permanent!”This connects to the difference between fulfillment and accomplishment. While accomplishments (what you can do) may impress other people, research shows that they do not offer lasting fulfillment. It’s only the process of becoming (growing in who you are) that leads to lasting fulfillment. Character matters. For a deeper exploration into this topic, check out David Brooks’ book The Road to Character.
- Work ON your life vs. IN your life. The book The E-Myth made the observation that too many entrepreneurs work in their business instead of on their business. This is a perspective that can be applied to your life. When you are in your life, you are looking outward, focused on what’s happening to you. Working on your life is about stepping outside and observing what’s going on inside. It puts you in control of the internal mindsets, choices and growth decisions you make. Keep a list of provocative questions handy to periodically challenge yourself and consider ways to improve by working on your life.
In case you are wondering what Bill Taylor’s other two traits of extraordinary leaders are: they stand for a great idea (Taylor says, “The only sustainable business leadership is thought leadership”), and tough-minded optimism.