Winning or Learning?

I am a competitive person. Maybe it is because of being the baby of the family. I always had to keep up, and somehow along the way it made me competitive. Now that does not mean that I always have to win (although it is fun). For me it is the journey that matters. How hard did I try? How much did I care? How much did I push myself? How much did I sweat? Did I improve at all?

For me the competition is often against myself, not others. It is about making myself better, stronger, faster, sharper. Can I do something I have never done before and succeed? And, even if I do not succeed, did I truly try? That is what matters most to me. I have a hard time when folks are lazy, or when they expect something to be handed to them on a silver platter. I have what I have in life because I worked my ass off, not because it was delivered with lace, bows, and doilies.

I frequently read Seth Godin’s blog and a recent one made me ponder the idea of learning and competition.

“Did you win?”

“A far better question to ask (the student, the athlete, the salesperson, the programmer…) is, “what did you learn?” Learning compounds. Usually more reliably than winning does.”

Short and sweet, but to the point. Trying is learning. Trying and failing then trying again and again is what it is all about, even if in the framework of competition.

What do you think?

Continuous Improvement

We always need to hone how we approach our life. Do we go to work each day and hope that everything will be exactly the same? I hope not. I hope we each have a bit of us that strives for continuous improvement. I hope we ask ourselves: How are we doing? Are we succeeding or failing? Where did you own it? Where did you lead?

Each and every day we are training for our next day, week, month, year. Our current stamina helps us to be able to go into the next day, and the one after that. We build our learning from one day, and it helps us in that next tough meeting, presentation, or dilemma we are trying to solve. I am a fan of continuous improvement. I think it is the way we learn more about ourselves. If we were not on the track to grow, learn more about ourselves, and be better, than what is ultimately the point? We should all want to be better. Better at work, better with our significant other, better with our families. We all have something to learn, and these learnings help us to grow into ourselves.

There are times when I do not want my life to change. I like where I am at and change just feels like my comfort level, and day-to-day will be grossly different. Sometimes though different might just take us to the next level and we are better for it. What we know changes. We have to get to know new people, projects, and problems to solve. Maybe the newer folks are not as fun, or the problems cause us to want to pull our hair out, but in the end if we are growing and learning it brings us to a better place. Sometimes it is just hard to see that better place. Through it all, we grow — whether by learning new skills, or more patience.

Thus continuous improvement. It brings a smile to my face that we each have an opportunity to work hard each day and be better. To learn more. To be better. Bring it. Learn more. Be a better you.