One of the benefits of being committed to continual improvement is that we don’t always have to gain new insights, ideas and strategies to improve ourselves.
At times, rather than striving to develop new habits or behaviours, it may be easier to choose to let go of things to start seeing improvements quickly.
So often, we unconsciously take on or hang on to ideas and beliefs which do not serve us in the long term. Once we become aware of what some of these things are, it will:
- Allow us to make the necessary adjustments we know we need to make to see improvements.
- Reduce build-up of tension or stress.
- Take the pressure of us to constantly acquire new knowledge or develop new behaviours.
- Bring a sense of ease and lightness back into our lives.
The ability to stay calm and not react negatively to unexpected events is an extremely valuable skill to have.
We tend to admire and respect those who can handle pressure well than those who crack under pressure.
If we consider professional sports, the ones who reach the highest levels of achievement don’t just have exception skills and talents, they are also able to train themselves to respond in the most effective way when placed under high levels of stress or pressure. The ones that are able to do it consistently are the ones that reach the elite level in sports.
We can also develop the ability of staying calm under pressure because not only will it allow us to respond the best way we can, it will help us strengthen our mental muscles for coping with high levels of stress. If we can develop that ability, we will be able to move past challenges a lot easier and faster.
I remember an event in my corporate career, when during a conversation with a manager, he went into a verbal tirade because of what he thought was not being done or not going well at the site I was managing. He was an account manager and did not hold back as to why he thought we weren’t serving “his” customers well.
We’ve all bought into ideas or opinions that we later found to be blatant lies. While the people who shared those ideas and opinions may have meant well, unfortunately they did not help build our confidence.
While we cannot always be immune to other people’s ideas and opinions, we must be cautious about what we’re buying into because if we start believing most things we hear, not only will it decrease our confidence, it can also:
- Limit our thinking in terms of what’s possible for us.
- Keep us where we are because we may be hesitant to challenge ourselves.
- Affect our interactions with those around us.
The sooner we become aware of what some of these lies are, the quicker we can acquire new perspectives so that we can move past them.
The emotion of guilt, if allowed to go on for any extended period of time, can be harmful to us and also to others we interact with on a regular basis.
Guilt is that emotional state where we experience an internal conflict when we have done something that we believe we should not have done. Similarly, we can also experience guilt when we don’t do something that we believe we should have done.
Like most emotions, guilt can be either healthy or unhealthy. Healthy guilt is an invitation for us to look at our behaviours and actions, and improve them so they align with our values and standards. Unhealthy guilt, on the other hand, can destroy our self-esteem and decrease our self-confidence, which will affect us in detrimental ways.
The sooner we can face and deal with any emotions of guilt, the sooner we will be able move past it and reap the benefits of it.
While we know being around and participating in negativity is not beneficial to us, removing ourselves from it can sometimes be challenging.
This is especially true if the environment we’re exposed to is an unhealthy, negative environment.
At times, recognising that we’re in a negative state such as complaining or getting frustrated, can be useful because we can use it to identify what we prefer instead. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to remain in a negative state for any prolonged period of time, it can:
- Destroy our creativity.
- Affect our behaviour and how we interact with others.
- Decrease our productivity and effectiveness.
- Cause others to avoid us, which can be costly in the long term.
If negativity is not good for us, then why do we find it difficult to remove ourselves from it?
There is something about having productive days — we get this sense of accomplishment which often makes us feel good about ourselves.
The challenges we face is that a productive day does not just happen. We must cultivate it.
We do that by putting in place certain practices or behaviours each day that will make it inevitable for us to have productive days.
One thing we must always remember is that there will be days when we won’t be at our best and our level of productivity will not be as high as we would like it to be. While it is important to minimise days like that, it is also important to accept that we will have those kinds of days and not to be too hard on ourselves when it does happen.
The better we get at doing the things that will ensure we are productive, the easier and quicker we will get things done, which means we will accomplish our goals a lot faster.
A common response when things get difficult is to slow down or even stop making progress towards what we want.
While that can be a valid response sometimes, most of the time, it does not help us deal with our current situation in the best way possible.
If we stop making progress, it can:
- Intensify any frustration or stress we may be feeling.
- Affect our mindset and outlook on our current situation.
- Make us question our ability to accomplish what we want.
- Diminish our self-confidence, which in turn, will affect our actions.
The sooner we can address the difficulty of the situation we find ourselves in, the quicker we’ll be able to move past it and accomplish what we want.
A common answer when people are asked what they want most in life is, “I want to be happy.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise because as human beings, joy is our natural state. We display our best and natural qualities when we are happy and have a true sense of joy in life.
The challenge we face is this idea of “being happy” is elusive. We keep chasing external success or achievement because we think it will make us happy. It is not uncommon for people to pursue financial and career success but still not be fulfilled or happy.
One of my mentors has a saying, “There is no point climbing up the ladder of success only to find the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.”
The better we’re able to understand what happiness means to us, the easier it will be for us to do the things that will allow us to experience joy and happiness.
When it comes to the level of success we want, what we do or don’t do, is our responsibility.
If we’re pursuing significant success, it is almost certain we will face challenges that can either motivate us to move forward, or slow us down or even stop us from making progress.
Almost always, the things preventing or blocking our success are internal fears, beliefs or assumptions. Unless we’re able to identify and remove these internal blocks, they will be operating in the background and influence how we think, the emotions we generate and the actions we are willing to take.
Prior to having a speaking and training career, I had to overcome many internal blocks which were holding me back from getting out and speaking. Some of the thoughts or beliefs I had to overcome were, Who would want to listen to me anyway? and Do I have anything important or valuable to share?