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What Have You Done to Improve Yourself?

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JW Way #17 - Be relentless about continuous improvement.

Be a “lifetime learner.”  Continually invest in your own education, both formally and informally.  Never stop improving your legal, technical and personal skills.  Excellence is a journey, not a destination.

This fundamental encourages us to become better at our jobs, better in our community, and indeed better people.  Like many of the JW Ways, it is not limited to what you do at work, but extends to all the areas you touch in your daily life.  It also serves to emphasize and reinforce the existing JW ways, because you can continuously improve on all of those as well.

By keeping a focus on continuous improvement, we are not saying that we have fallen short, or that we need to do better.  We acknowledge that we can do better, and encourage ourselves and our teammates to do so.  Continuous improvement does not mean what we do is not already good, or even very good.  This fundamental means we are willing to purge the phrase “good enough” from our vocabulary.  It means that we know, and focus on, the fact that we are good now, can be better later, and will become exceptional as long as we continue to invest in ourselves and our team.

Being a lifetime learner takes many forms.  You can enroll in a class to explore an area you don’t know much about.  You can set yourself to learn a new physical skill, such as tennis or yoga.  You can ask for help or mentoring from a person whose skills you look up to, or admire.  Lifetime learning can also take place less formally, over lunch or in the hallway.  You can listen to the wide experiences of the tremendous group we have gathered together, and leave with new knowledge, and new appreciation, for something you knew little or nothing about.

Doing this is a commitment to the JW Way, and a commitment to our team.  It is also a commitment to yourself. Continual improvement will make you a better team member, a better friend, and a person others can admire.  Remain committed, and learn those little lessons along the way.

Going back to my original question, what have you done to improve yourself?  Sometime that is a tough question to answer.  So remember it is okay to start small.  One of the steps I learned was from a former US Navy SEAL, who talked about the importance of making your bed every morning.  

According to Adm. William McRaven, staring with a well-made bed can be the improvement you need in a day: 

"If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."

The whole speech, and his list can be found here.  It is long, but I find it very inspiring to remind me of the struggle for, and benefit of, continuous improvement.   

So, the next time someone asks you what you have done to improve yourself, at least you will have a well-made bed.


About the Author: Tom Moring, a partner in the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. His practice emphasizes complex real estate and commercial disputes, creditor's rights, tort litigation and collections matters. Mr. Moring has extensive experience in managing and performing all aspects of litigation from initial investigation through discovery to trial.