Make the Improvement Plan a Priority

Chapter 5 Pg 140-142 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

Thinking you will improve and actually improving are quite different. Positive thinking must be turned into positive action. You must be energized to accomplish something. Without a plan of action and the resolve to act, you will achieve no predictable change and certainly will have no way of knowing if you are on course.

 But what is a self-improvement plan? Where do you start, and what does it look like? It starts with a decision to seek to understand the areas of your life, be they character traits, leadership skills, or otherwise, that require attention. That means you must use an evaluation mechanism in which you have confidence. The evaluation may have come from a boss, from a peer or friend, or from within yourself. Whatever the case, you must believe that these areas really need your attention, and you must decide you will set goals to address the weakness.

 If you accept the conclusion that you have a weakness in financial analysis, for example, then you must set goals that will help you to develop the technical skills required to improve in that area. If that means taking courses, then you need to set a firm date when you will start the course. If you need help with the communication skills required to be an effective coach, then you need to determine the best way to get those skills. It may mean attending a seminar, or it may require reading a few books and then following a disciplined practice program that gives you either role-playing experience with a friend or real work situations in which to use your newfound skills.

Whatever the case, you must establish a need, set a goal, set a specific strategy to  achieve the new skills, and then set a date by which you will achieve the developmental experience required to improve your performance. Most important, write all of this down so you can see the plan in real terms. People tend to remember information that impacts multiple senses. Seeing your goals in writing adds to your intellectual and emotional commitment to the plan.

No plan is worth the paper it is written on if all you do is put it in a !le and leave it for another day. The plan belongs in your daily planner. It should be a to-do list item every day. It must influence your priorities in the same way that getting the work out affects every day at the job. If you do not treat your own development with the same priority you give to your job, then you will always be a second-class citizen in your world. At a

Minimum, you must make your own development equally as important as that of your associates. Therefore, you must have a follow-up program that keeps the discipline of improvement at the forefront of your attention. Every plan element must have a completion date, but just as important, each must also have intermediate checkpoints that provide you with frequent insight into how you are progressing. These progress checks are essential largely because without them the crush of day-to-day priorities will limit your improvement efforts. You have to resist that crush if you want to achieve your goal. At a minimum, every week you should check your performance against your plan. If you are falling behind, you should not wait for six months to go by to decide you have failed to keep the commitment.

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