Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baby Steps Lead To Success

One of the most valuable concepts that I have learned after leaving formal school/university is the concept of "continuous improvement". It is based on the premise that businesses or individuals seldom improve or move toward their goals in large earth-shaking moves. The reality is much more likely to be small steps rather than large improvements. Often, it's three steps forward and two steps back. Not unlike how the stock market works.

The advantage of embracing continuous improvement in one's life is that it is applicable to anyone, or any endeavour...at any time. It's never too late to look for ways to learn how to get better at doing something. It is also very achievable.

I think we can all embrace this concept in our lives. It can be money management, earning power, relationships with other people, how you go about doing this or that at work.

You don't have to improve every day or for that matter every week or month. But if you look for opportunities to get better, learn from your mistakes and your successes, and then start looking for next small improvement.

An entire workplace can adopt this strategy, a small group of co-workers, or a single individual under any circumstances. As an individual I have always found that it was a lot easier to change what I was doing than to try to encourage others to change their ways. Sometimes people will follow you once they see the benefits.

Changing an old habit is a good example. 'Old habits can't be thrown out of a second story window, they must be coaxed down the stairs, one step at a time'.


S. B. said...

This is a good post. I would have to say that my budgeting pretty much always followed the "continuous process improvement" model. I never really sat down with my wife and said "I would like to save this much money."

Instead, all we did was to spend a year writing down everything we spent. We didn't try to change any spending habits or criticize anything. We simply recorded everything. Then after we had a year of data, we saw how much we spent on everything and how much we saved. We decided to make a couple of very small adjustments to that for the next year. And the next year. And so forth. Soon, we were saving a lot of money, but we never really felt like there was any jarring moment getting there.

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