This is not so much a post on how you can transform yourself into someone great but a look at how you can greatly improve the outcome of yoru projects and tasks. (Though obviously in doing so you will ultimately achieve the former which is good too.) It is not a silver bullet but a means by which you can project yourself forward on a path of constant improvement.
What I am going to discuss is a means by which you can attack your projects and tasks so as to give you the best possible outcome. And the best thing is that it is an approach that get’s better with practice and an approach that forms into a habbit (ie you naturally do it with little effort). It is important to realise that you probably won’t get stellar results the first time you use it but with persistence the only way is up. We are going to attack this in the following manner:
The above is a series of ideas that need to be conciously applied (and not necessarily in that order). You can see them in visual form here.
This is not your typical resources. This is resources in terms of why and what we are doing. This is what we are ideally trying to achieve. All too often your end result is mediocre as a result of your resources being mediocre. A resource can be a variety of things:
- In terms of a project your resource is what you plan to achieve. It is the best statement of the problem you can realise.
- In terms of education your resources are what you wish the students to learn, in terms of skills and knowledge, but also the activities you come up with in which to engage the students.
- In terms of everyday work your resource can be what you hope to inspire in others.
If you want your end result to be awesome then you must first start off by creating high quality resources to get you started. They will also be your measuring stick and also the motivation to push you to achieve your best.
Once you have your resources in place, the next stage is to process them. This requires the following 3 tools. The tools should all be applied in parallel, working off and supporting each other.
A large part of this is reflection. We learn a lot of lessons from our experiences and reflection is a great way to clarify and reinforce them. You should be thinking, and recording your thinking all the time, at all stages of your work (not just as a post activity). You need to think about the big picture. You need to compare and contrast what you are doing against your stated objectives. You need to look at your direction and consider if it is the best way or needs changing. This will help you achieve clarity, boost motivation and make sure you learn the most from your experiences.
When we talk about organistaion, we don’t mean you need a really fine tuned action plan. For some work this is required but for a lot it can actually be counter productive. Organisation can be in many forms. A simple todo list may suffice. It should provide a rough framework to make sure you don’t stray too much and are able to complete your work on time. At the same time it should not be too detailed. This has the tendency of restricting creative thinking and innovation.
You need to take the time to consider the alternatives. To explore new ways of doing things. If you only do what you’ve always done you’ll only achieve what you’ve always achieved. Great people do things differently and have the courage to experiment. You may not always succeed but you learn from everything and you’ll only get better with time. A whiteboard can be very beneficial in this area.
What has been discussed here is a series of ideas that will lead to better results. They are probably things that you are already doing. The trick is to get the mix right and the implementation correct. Every person and every situation is different but with practice you will be able to identify what works best for you. When you are on the right track you should find that motivation improves and the energy will dramatically increase with it. From there constant improvement and greatness is just a matter of time. I will explore each of the above ideas in more detail in future posts.