As humans, we have excelled due to our self-awareness and consciousness. We have always looked to improve ourselves and our environment; both as individuals and within societies we look to develop and move forward. Our progression as a species has been incredible over many thousands of years. In more recent times, technology has constantly pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, of our medical capabilities and of virtually any area that we care to think about. We are living in contradiction to our values if we do not work towards being our personal best each and every day. Taking progressive action is the only way that we can improve. If we act strongly, wilfully and consistently, our actions will become habitual. If we want to experience joy in our lives, we have to be sure that we are constantly improving. It is when things stay still or when we think that we are not making progress that we become frustrated. Something I feel sure you will agree with is that the world around us is constantly changing. The corollary to this, which we sometimes miss, is that we have to be constantly changing with it. Better still, we have to be constantly improving. Believe me, we are not standing on the side of the hill. We are either marching up it or we are sliding down. If we put a thousand pounds in the bank and go back a year later, the thousand pounds will still be there but it will have less value. If nothing else, inflation will take a chunk out of it. So it is with our lives. We are either moving forward or sliding backwards. There is no stationary point.
When people talk about someone’s overnight success, they don’t always see the commitment; they don’t see the ongoing improvements that were made in that person’s life. They just see the success, and that person coming from nowhere into the public consciousness. But we are all intelligent enough to know that there is always a story behind the story. There are the unheralded moments in that person’s life when he or she pushed a little harder, invested more time, became dedicated to improving skills and committed to being their best. Sometimes people look at that type of individual and say, “Look how lucky they are.” But as Gary Player, the great South African golfer said, “The harder I practise, the luckier I get.”
Raising the bar
Personal Best People: Sir Tom Farmer Founder Kwik Fit Group
“The main thing stopping you is yourself. I am absolutely serious about that. There are opportunities out there. You just have to go and find them.”
I believe passionately that you should set incredible, mind-expanding goals and that you should paint vistas for your life that perhaps don’t seem believable. If you have a big enough reason to achieve what you want, you will find a way to achieve it. However, one of the issues which many people have when they set goals or when they set out to achieve something, is that their objectives seem so far away. The journey of a thousand miles may well begin with the first step, but a thousand miles is still a hell of a long way. So people set out with good intentions but they set such a lofty, ambitious goal that they become overwhelmed by it. The initial excitement of setting their aim can dissipate quickly when they come to terms with the magnitude of what has to be done to achieve it.
The other challenge which people face when setting major goals is that they simply don’t believe them. They may well set out to achieve their aims, but a small voice in their head tells them they are trying to achieve something that is beyond their reach. Consequently they wonder whether it is worth even starting on the journey towards their goal.
Personal Best People: Ronald Kers, CEO Muller Dairies
“Since the age of 28, I have always had clear goals and milestones planned for my personal life in terms of what I want to achieve. This included areas like professional, family, society, friends, and purely “me”. I have tried to stick to these milestones and so far I have to say that most of what I planned, especially in terms of professional and family I have accomplished either ahead of time or on time and to the level I expected.”
The fantastic thing about committing to be your personal best is that all you have to do is just get a little better in the areas relevant to your goals. If you are going to start that business then all you need to do every day is to take small steps towards realising that dream. If you are going to write that book, then commit to writing as many words as you can each day. These things are believable. Simple acts that you can complete comfortably will bring you closer each day to your ultimate goal. Taking these important, incremental steps means that before long you may well have created the next breakthrough business or written the next great novel. Who knows where it can take you?
So, set ambitious goals, but commit yourself to smaller actionable steps. What small actions can you take that will move you towards your goals? What knowledge can you gain each and every day that will get you there? What information do you need and where will you find it? All you need to do is day by day, week by week take steps towards what you want to achieve in life. This is maybe the most important promise you will ever make. A promise to ongoing improvement, a commitment to being your best is what will make the difference in your life. Opportunities and happenstance start moving in your favour and you will begin noticing that you are simply becoming better at what you do.