Here’s a serious question for you.
How do you need to improve?
To get better business results, what skills do you need to start getting better at today?
That may be a bit of a difficult question. So let’s park it for a moment, and detour to a bit of an easier one for you.
What does a perfect day look like for you?
Not a vacation day. But if you could design a typical day in your life, how would it look?
For me, it includes waking up in warm weather, preferably with an ocean view. After completing my morning meditation, prayers, and yoga, I’d like to have breakfast that includes fruit, almond butter, and some gluten-free waffles that are so good they make me forget wheat-based ones exist.
Later on, there will be dancing, cooking, a bit of roaming around, or possibly a swim. And oh yeah, there is some work involved. But no more than six hours a day.
I get excited just thinking of it.
And every day I get up, I become more conscious of that goal.
But I recognize the Sonia that I am today, won’t get me there. I need to get even better at running my business to make this possible.
And if you want to reach your business goals that enable you to experience your perfect day over and over again, I imagine an evolution on your part is needed as well.
Let me explain.
How to save yourself from mediocrity
Good is the enemy of great.
That’s the opening line of the classic book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. And it’s also my favorite line of all time from a book.
The pursuit of greatness has long been fuel for me to push the envelope and step outside my comfort zone.
So it pains me a bit to make this confession. When it comes to learning Spanish, I’ve hit a wall. I’m at about 70% fluency, and while I consider that good, it’s not great.
I was at 70% fluency four months ago. I’m even living in Buenos Aires right now, where I am forced to speak the language every day. But my vocabulary hasn’t grown. And I still struggle with understanding the locals when they talk at their normal speed. No bueno.
My problem is I’ve gotten comfortable with good. I can understand people enough to get by. They understand me. It’s good enough.
But not really. It’s eating me up inside because I want to be better. There are more conversations to have. More independence to experience. There’s more to learn and understand.
So to reach another level with my proficiency in this language, I cannot continue along with what I’m currently doing. I’ve got to be intentional about my learning and practice so that I can improve.
And over time, I will get better. I’m certain of that.
But if I continue along my current path, I won’t grow. I’m certain of that too.
If you want to keep yourself from a life of mediocrity, good enough, and achieving less than you are capable of, you’ve got to be intentional in your quest for greatness too.
The intentional path to building the business and life you want
Being an entrepreneur means you will constantly be in a state of learning. The opportunities to learn and grow are everywhere.
But if you want to live the good life and build your dream business, then you’ve got to be intentional about what and how you learn.
The good news is your potential is limitless. With time and focused effort, you have the ability to master any skill. Research proves it.
To get you on the path to doing that, let’s revisit the original question posed at the beginning of this post:
How do you need to improve?
Acknowledging where you need to grow is the first step on your road to better. But you can’t stop there. Let’s dive deeper into two areas that will make the biggest impact for you.
1. Your craft
Your customers are coming to you to solve their problem. You can’t spend all your energy trying to get new customers into your business, only to do a poor or mediocre job at serving their needs.
You’ve got to delight them. You’ve got to give them an experience that makes them want more of what you have to offer. And you’ve got to do that over time.
So when it comes to your craft, what is the one thing that you need to work on being better at, that will enable you to serve your customers more?
For a chef, that’s cooking. For a photographer, it’s taking better photos. For a writer, it’s writing.
That’s your focus area. But that’s just the first step, ’cause saying “I want to improve at writing” is still too vague, and won’t tell you exactly how to focus your efforts.
You’ve got to be specific about what aspect of your craft you need to improve in. For instance, as I think about how to improve my Spanish, there are three areas that need the most attention:
- Vocabulary – need to expand
- Listening – need to get better at understanding when spoken at fast speed
- Conjugating verbs – need to commit to memory the rules for future and past tense
With more specificity in what you need to improve, it will be easier for you to create a plan that enables you to work more in a more focused way to strengthen your skills.
The next step would be to prioritize the order in which you’ll tackle each of these skills. You’ll get more rapid results when you focus your energy on improving in one area at a time.
Once you are pleased with your growth, then you can move on to the next one on your list. My priority list for Spanish looks like this:
- Conjugating verbs
As you do your prioritization, be strategic with your choices. I ranked my priorities in this manner based upon which skill would make the biggest impact on my ability to communicate.
Since I’m here in Buenos Aires now, my opportunities for listening to Spanish speakers is increased.
Also, improving my listening skills has a halo effect on expanding my vocabulary. The more I understand what people are saying, and what context they are using certain words and phrases in, I’ll naturally pick up new words. That includes slang terms that I may not learn in a more formal setting.
It is super easy to feel accomplished after going through these exercises. But you’re not done yet.
The next step is to make a clear plan for how you will improve at the task. As I look at my number one priority of improving my listening skills, I’ve identified three ways to that:
- The person I talk to the most here in Buenos Aires talks to me in English. I will have him talk to me in Spanish for at least ten minutes when we speak.
- Have at least three conversations with people who don’t speak English (eliminates the temptation to cheat) each week
- Watch at least one Spanish-language television show or movie each week
Ugh. Now my plans are real. They are concrete. They are tasks that I must do if I’m serious about improving. And now the real work begins. By working the plan.
2. Your business
Most entrepreneurs have no issues when it comes to being a rockstar at their craft. It’s the business part of running a business that often trips them up.
As you work to grow in your craft, you also have to be intentional about improving as an entrepreneur.
That could mean working on establishing a proven system for generating leads, delegating more tasks, or strengthening your network.
The better you get at running your business, the better your business results will be.
Much like we did with figuring out how to improve at our craft, you’ve got to start with a short list of activities to improve that will make a major impact on how your business performs.
Next, you’ve got to prioritize that list to choose which you’ll tackle first. And then, of course, you’ve got to create a plan of action that will get you the results you want.
Ready to up your game?
Your customers will thank you. Your business will thank you. And you will thank you, for making the effort, and putting in the work to improve your skills.
And with each step forward, you’ll be even closer to making your perfect day your reality, more often than not.
If so, let’s get you started increasing your skills now. In the comments below, let me know what two skills you’ve prioritized for improvement. Include one for your craft, and one for your business.