Friday, February 15, 2008

How do you know when you're getting it right?

It often seems to me that this is the single most life-altering question I ask (myself and other people).

Whether people are looking for personal development, education in particular skills, or leadership abilities, they all seem eager to talk about what they are doing wrong. Their route to improvement seems straightforward: identify weaknesses and strengthen them. Find all the problems and solve them. Know what's wrong.

There is a time for solving problems. You know you're in that time when you know what you're doing right. You know how you know that you are doing good work. You know what's strong about what you already have. Until you identify the things that are working, you are not ready to make changes.

The world is full of things that changed and got worse. They often got worse because someone forgot about noticing success and started tinkering with problems. Something got changed here. Something got deleted there. In the end, what changed was that a problem got solved by weakening a basic strength.

If you are serious about success, pay attention to it. If you are serious about doing good work, know when you are doing good work. Know how you know: what are your criteria for success?

It's Friday. The weekend is approaching - a first February long weekend in Ontario. If you spend today noticing how you know that you are doing a good job at work, you will also notice that you are hitting some of your criteria - maybe even most of your criteria. If you pay attention, you might even begin to build a habit.

As you head home for the long weekend, you might find yourself compulsively noticing the things that are right in your life and the things you like about the people in your life. You might even find yourself noticing some of them out loud.

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