I faced this question during my morning reading and reflection time.
On one level it seems very straightforward.
Most of us hope to make our lives better or at least it would appear that way given the volume of self-improvement titles in circulation.
So, the premise is simple. Right? You should want to get better and to get better you need to be willing to do whatever it takes.
Yet if you are like me, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Questions like this usually start the dialogue rolling in my head painfully reminding me that, at least in some areas, I still don’t seem to be willing…enough.
But as I start to peel back the layers more questions surface that challenge this perspective.
What is better?
Is better a change to my inner world? Is my discomfort emanating from of a lack of gratitude, understanding or acceptance rather than a problem I need to fix?
Is better a change to my outer world? Is there something I need to do to affect my environment or my relationships?
Is better some ridiculous bar I set for myself based on the expectations of others or social programming?
It seems really important to know why you think something needs to be better in the first place.
Is this better enough to make me willing?
If I do come up with a better that, when examined, is right for me, I must then ask, “Is it enough?”.
Am I clear on the benefits and can I visualize how they will change my life?
Am I clear on the consequences of not changing and what this will mean to my life?
The bigger the change, the more leverage you will need to follow through on the actions required.
Am I on a journey or on a treadmill?
This question, or something like it, is presented to me in a myriad of ways almost every day through advertising, articles, media and success evangelists. It can become a nagging voice in my head.
An endless cycle of angst, admonitions, starts, stops, re-starts, and self-criticism.
Rather than rising out of curiosity, learning, and personal growth, the drive comes from a sense of inadequacy, shame or guilt.
Your better should rise from within. From positive, not negative energy.
The call to a new way of being may be triggered by some outside source but the voice you follow should be your own.
A note for leaders.
Leaders are usually people driven to self-improvement and are generally rewarded for making things better.
When you have this orientation you naturally want to help others do the same, even if to serve your own ambition.
Consider how you can guide the people you serve to find their own sense of better rather than trying to shape them into the qualities that helped you succeed.
Model a humble, thoughtful, courageous and individualized path to personal growth.