"In my experience as a senior executive in the competitive and fast-paced sporting goods industry, I have seen my share of good leaders.

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Keep Your Abilities Sharp

learning

Being a better you does not necessarily mean having to learn a new skill or acquire a new talent – in fact, sometimes the complete opposite proves true. Quite often, the road to excellence requires that we build on what we are already good at: the unique talents that make you who you are. If you strive for excellence, taking for granted your natural-born gifts just does not measure up. As the old adage goes, “there is always room for improvement.”

Costs and Benefits

In this fast-paced world, you cannot afford not to be moving forward. But that does not mean going back to the metaphorical drawing-board. Instead, one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to improve yourself is to work with what you are already naturally good at. Likewise, you could unknowingly be suffering from some serious costs if your talents lie latent. You are either moving forward or falling behind. You need to keep your abilities sharp. 

One of the many ways to be constantly improving your skill-set is the simple act of practicing. Like a concert pianist or an NFL champion, nobody becomes an expert overnight. Instead it takes years of daily commitment to steadily top your personal best. The musician who lets their instrument gather dust so too becomes “rusty”: their skills are not as sharp as they could have been. The concept of practice can apply to anyone in any industry: be it your knowledge of current affairs or your willingness to go above-and-beyond for a client, “sharpen the saw” teaches that we should constantly hone our minds and bodies to keep our skills up-to-date.

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Prepare for Lifelong Learning

“Sharpening the saw” is really a lifestyle, not a destination. For practically any skill or talent you can name, there is no definitive point where the process is truly completed. Any person – or business – can still get better. Accepting and enjoying lifelong learning means asking the right questions of yourself. It means habitually going beyond the superficial for some real introspection and being open to feedback and new ideas in order to keep growing.

For instance, if you are the owner of a real estate agency you may well feel proud when the business meets its quotas or a client expresses satisfaction, and maybe superb customer service is your natural-born talent. Though you should absolutely celebrate success, you can still ask, “what can we do better next time?” From client surveys to more flexible hours to better prices, there are a plethora of ways your company can keep honing its best asset: amazing customer support. It all depends on your perspective: are you staying in your comfort zone or practicing daily the act of “sharpening the saw”?

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Julie Nimmons

Julie Nimmons

Julie uses her 30 years’ experience to help CEOs, executives and business owners in her Vistage Group find success in their businesses and personal lives. With positive leadership, a firm sense of prioritization and the commitment to lifelong learning, Julie’s creates a constructive workspace for Group members where honesty, innovation and cooperation can flourish.