Are You Changing Incrementally or Drastically?
Which one is better?
Goal: Explain incremental improvement and step change improvement
Recently I wrote a few articles about mentoring and using replacements for mentors in the form of books, videos and podcasts. What these tools have in common is that they are useful to improve oneself.
What is the ultimate goal?
We should all strive to be our best self. What that means to me is that I am a little better than yesterday. It is not comparing myself against others.
Just a little better than yesterday.
Since the change is incremental you might not notice it. You have to be mindful and actively looking for the difference.
Let me share an example.
A month ago I decided to add daily journaling to my life. Writing a daily journal is a great idea BUT very difficult to execute consistently.
It is like writing great articles…hard to do for an extensive amount of time.
I found a 5 min app called Echo that allows me to fill what I am grateful for, what will make today great, and my affirmation for that day. The tool makes it easy for me to fill in the blanks in the morning and evening.
When I examined the last month’s worth of entries I noticed that I am getting to the point of almost every day filling out the morning portion. The evening portion still needs work. BUT that is the beauty of incremental improvement. Slowly over time I am driving myself towards journaling both in the morning and evening.
What is step change improvement?
When I used to teach for a living, I would always welcome teaching a brand new class. Sometimes these courses were outside my areas of specialty. I was never afraid to teach them as long as I had a few weeks before the class started to prepare for the course.
Second reason why I was not afraid was that I wanted to do a great job but at the end I expected to be stumped by a few student questions and explaining topics.
With that in mind, I wanted to be able to self evaluate at the end of the semester and give myself at least a C for a brand new course. Next time I would teach the same course I would want to self evaluate at least at a B+ level. B+ level meant that I got through the course without being stumped and was the best instructor for that course at that institution. Third time I instructed the same course I wanted to self evaluate to a A+. What that meant was that there will not be anyone in the world that can teach the course better than me. (This is why I have instructed so many courses in my life. I have been willing to go through this process)
Did you notice how I forced myself to make a step change with each teaching of the course to new levels of performance?
So which one is better?
I use incremental for small changes that I want to make BUT for big life changes one must use step change. The step change should be for a longer term effort.
Be willing to give yourself a break in both.
You are a human being and will fail BUT that does not excuse you from continuously failing. Try to not make it two in a row. If you fail one day then make sure you do not fail 2 days in a row. That simple rule will make sure that you are achieving at least 66% of the time.
Hopefully you see the need for both types of change efforts. The only thing that is constant in life is change. God bless 2020. I believe that it will go down as the biggest year of changes for humanity. We are forced to raise our levels. It is forcing both incremental(daily changes for us as individuals) and step change(for all of us) at the same time.
I got to go…my future self alarm went off
Robert Trajkovski is professional with experience in leading people and projects in Steel/ Power, Refining, Chemicals, Industrial Gasses, Software, Consulting and Academia. He has worked for both owners and engineering companies. In addition, he has instructed 73+ courses at several institutions and often offers his courses for free on LinkedIn.
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