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Game On!

“Continual improvement.” Whoever coined that phrase deserves some credit. Why? Because besides being just another over used, undervalued and too often disregarded phrase, it embodies the essence of doing “great” business. But let’s not talk about business; let’s talk about people, the individuals themselves who make up the business. Let’s talk about you and me. We are the business. A business is just people doing their jobs, and we are the people doing the jobs in our businesses. Right?

Well, in order for a business to continually improve, the people who make up the business must continually improve. I guess that’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often we are looking for improvement to come from somewhere or someone else within our organizations. However, the only one we have any power to change is ourselves. If continual improvement is going to happen within our business, and we are looking for the catalyst, start with the one reading this.

Better Every Day

So then, let’s revisit the phrase, “continual improvement.” Let’s focus for a few moments on what continual improvement means to us as individuals. It’s pretty simple. It means that today our intention is to be better than we were yesterday at doing whatever it is that we do. Compare that to staying the same. Though there is something to be said for consistency, consistency isn’t enough, though consistency is much better than being inconsistent. Consistency may even be the next step in continual improvement for you. You come to work every day. You do your job. That’s certainly better than missing work often and being a slacker. But if that’s who you are, and who you continue to be, that’s not continual improvement. All of the consistency in the world pales by comparison with continual improvement.

But most people don’t continually improve. If that sounds critical, I’m sorry. In fact, you’re lucky if your employees are consistent. After nearly 40 years in business and having dealt with thousands of employees, that’s my observation. Furthermore, the reality is that people in general tend toward the MDR—minimum daily requirement. And as I said early on, people make up those businesses, so throw most businesses into that category as well. They are on cruise control and lack the passion necessary to continually improve. This coincidently is some very good news for those who do fully embrace the lifestyle of continual improvement. I’ll save the reasons why, for my conclusion. Just keep reading …

Onward and Upward!

Continual improvement means that we are determined to learn new and better ways to drive and improve the level of success we achieve. We never give up or quit innovating, striving and endeavoring in excellence. We make a point of doing so over and over, again and again and again. Far from being satisfied and content with business as usual, those who continually improve labor relentlessly in order to become the best they can possibly be. They use their past abilities and performance as a benchmark. They move forward from there in one solitary direction, onward and upward. They are determined to learn and consequently score highly in both aptitude and attitude. They remain easily teachable as opposed to becoming arrogant know-it-alls. Every day yields new lessons learned, which they faithfully carry into tomorrow, finding themselves ever so slightly better prepared to excel. That’s continual improvement!

If we commit to continual improvement, our competitors won’t know what hit them. They’ll be scratching their heads in wonder while we turn the heads of our customers. We will excel in our industry. We’ll also get more satisfaction from our jobs, make more money and have a better future. We’ll continually improve. Things in general will get better and better and better and better and better. You get the point, better is better, so why not get better?

The Odds Favor You

In closing, let me get personal. Are you continually improving? Are you determined to be better at what you do? If not, why not? Isn’t it a little boring just getting by? Doesn’t it leave you dissatisfied just existing, just surviving day after day at work? Wouldn’t it be invigorating just to embrace the challenge and hold yourself to a higher standard? Can’t you feel the pull toward continual improvement? Wouldn’t you like to learn something new and put that knowledge to work? You can, if only you will. You’ll be better off if you do, and it’s really not that hard to become the best or at least one of the very best among your peers and or colleagues. Why? There’s one simple reason: So few try!

Far and away the overwhelming majority of those of us in the working world, be they entry level or upper management, don’t even compete. They have no heart for it. They lack the fundamental components necessary. Continual improvement isn’t even a legitimate consideration. That leaves the competition for the top spot to a very small minority made up of those who take this subject seriously. I’ll throw a percentage at it—5 to 10 percent max, which leaves as much as 95 percent completely out of the competition. That includes both the individuals and their respective businesses.

So there’s your competition, a small handful willing to compete. All you have to do is beat them and you win. So then for those of us who burn with passion to continually improve, I have two simple words: Game on!

Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.

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