We’ve all thought about being better in some way–a better teammate, a better listener, a better friend, or even a better employee. The issue isn’t our desire to get better; rather, it’s maintaining a continual focus on the better self that we hope to achieve. The issue is that it’s actually not about what we are trying to attain that stops us in our tracks, but, instead, the process we use in getting there.
When this journey for self-improvement is aligned to our personal core values, life is richer and more exciting. This happens not just because we get better, but because we get better at getting better. Knowing that life is complex, filled with derailers, the little things that can steal our attention away from our important goals, we look to Benjamin Franklin for support. Franklin created the perfect formula for character development and self-improvement.
Simply put, he identified 13 virtues and then worked on one per week. The genius in this strategy is that within 52-week year, he would, by the end of the annual cycle, spend one whole month on each virtue. For this reason, this month we are asking you to identify one aspect of your life that will get you closer to your better self. Take the challenge.
Take time to consider the characteristic or quality that you want to fully develop. Franklin had thirteen; let’s start with one. Be mindful, though, that usually this characteristic is the opposite of the thing that gets us into trouble as leaders. The quality we often desire is the opposite of the negative conditions we often struggle to conquer in ourselves. Consider having a sense of calm, for example. It’s an incredible attribute to exhibit, yet many of us suffer from the “oh, not now” syndrome of our busy lives. We’ve created such a noisy existence that one slight change in our plans sends us into a tizzy. Or, how about the ability to assume positive intent. Instead, we are often suspicious and suspect the worst in others, acting with judgement and slow to forgive. The first challenge this month gets us working in the right direction to overcome these things. The goal is both personal and professional self-improvement.
- Take time to think of the quality or virtue that you really want to master. When you’ve identified it for yourself, write it down in a journal or notebook. At TheSchoolHouse302, we are working on being more fascinated with life. We want to improve our appreciation for people and situations with a genuine curiosity about human nature.
- Now that you have your one quality, determine where and when you typically fail at it. What sets you off and sends you into behaving in the opposite direction of your intentions? Knowing this helps to identify your triggers.
- Next, decide what this looks like in action. What is one action that you can take to put this characteristic into practice? All you have to do now is to take that step. Let us know what you did to make your dreams for self-improvement a reality.
Technical Tip: Identify a space and time for a new morning routine, dedicated to thinking about this quality and how it will impact you and your life in a positive way. Envision how you will embody a new virtue and how it will transform how you act. Whether it’s demonstrating gratitude or improving your self-belief, take time to see your new actions through your mind’s eye. We mentioned The Miracle Morning and using this time for meditation. As part of that experience, spend time imagining your transformation and what it will look like as you take steps to make it a reality within your day.
Reach out and share your story with us.
Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.