If you are wholly comfortable with who you are, I’d like to meet you. Most of us are always aspiring to be better. By working towards improvement more than consistency, we often miss the point. Erratic behavior implies unreliability. It does not significantly self-confidence or the confidence of others in us. Just like hitting a bull’s eye once does not make one a sniper, being at your best once is not excellence. So, how do you ensure you can always put your best forward?
Anyone who has made New Year resolutions knows firsthand that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And who hasn’t? However, if your fear of failure is greater than your motivation to start personal development, then you have already failed. Yesterday, I bumped into a brand named Practice-U. It has been created in support of the self-improvement
Becoming the best
I have always wondered why the first course, at least higher education levels, is not how to learn. Knowing what lays ahead and how to cope with it increases the chances of success. Becoming your best involves the acquisition of a new skill, the skill of always being at your best. Furthermore, it might involve improving the skills you already possess. For example, a writer who already has awesome writing skills but is a slow typist is the best possible version of the writer he/she can be. As such, he/she needs to improve his typing skills.
Research has shown there are four skill-acquisition stages that define how one progresses from a beginner to a master. In skill acquisition, we start out as being unconsciously incompetent and progress to conscious incompetence. We then progress to conscious competence. Mastery is achieved when our competence is unconscious.
Step one: Get out of your comfort zone
Unconscious incompetence is commonly referred to as comfort zone. You know you’re stuck in a rut but you don’t take the trouble to find out why. To become better, we need to become conscious of our actions and look to see what could be better. For instance, a salesman who keeps losing deals needs to ask why.
Step two: Stop fearing failure
When you are learning to drive, you get to a point where you know all the things to do but keep doing them a bit too late. That is conscious incompetence. But if you are afraid of failing, then you will never practice enough to pass the driving test or become the best version of yourself. This is what differentiates the quitters from the winners. The fact that you can spot your mistakes means you become better.
Step three: Good is not good enough
To continue with our driving allegory: the fact that you have passed your driving test does not make you Grand Prix material. In fact, it just means you’ve shown the minimum acceptable level of competence allowed on the road. As such, you need to keep improving to get to the top. In other words, your good is not your best.
Step four: Win the war, not the battle
You can win 99 battles and lose the war by losing just one out of a hundred battles. So keep your eyes on the prize, and remember being always at your best in one area is good but not ideal. You need to repeat the process for the other areas of your life.