Are You Doing Your Part?

I want to improve at many things: my exercise, my writing, my teaching, just to name three. When I reflect back on my progress—or lack thereof—I ask myself if I’m doing my part.

Wanting is not enough. I have to do my part. Sometimes, my part is to show up and do the work. (See Elizabeth Gilbert’s Elusive Creative Genius Ted Talk.) More often, my part is deciding what to practice, and then practicing it.

My lack of progress often stems from these causes:

  • I didn’t select what to improve or change.
  • I didn’t schedule time for improvement.
  • I didn’t practice.

(Note: Your list may well be different from mine. That’s because you and I are not the same, something we can all be happy about…)

 What made me think I was going to improve? Thinking about it?

Actually, that’s what I see in many organizations. I talk to managers and team members who want to “go agile.” Here are some parts they could do:

  • Learn about the difference between iteration-based agile and flow -based agile.
  • Experiment with taking small steps and getting feedback.
  • Retrospect on what they did to see what they can improve.

These are three examples. You and your team might want something else.

Here’s how it works for me. I’ll give you an example of when I started to learn to write. I started writing for my work in 1997. In 1999, I started writing the first hiring book. In 2003, I started my blogs. 

Initially, writing was hard. It was hard to find the time. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I was sure that the way I said it was horrible. (Some of it was!)

Then, I got serious with my writing. I had monthly columns and plans for more books. I took a writing workshop and decided to start measuring. I measured so I could decide what to improve first.

I measured my writing time and realized I was like every other writer out there. I complained about writing, and I didn’t do it. So, I stopped complaining and started to measure my time writing. (I still write in timeboxes, because that works for me.)

Then, I decided some of my writing was too complex. We didn’t have apps then, so I needed to measure in Word. I did. Next, I measured the time I wrote plus the readability.

I’m pretty good with readability now, so now I measure time spent writing, readability, and number of words written. I’m finding this very helpful for my fiction attempts. My fiction does not flow the way my non-fiction does. I spend too much time thinking and not enough time writing.

Showing up is the first part for almost any endeavor. And, showing up is not sufficient. Wanting is not sufficient.

I have to do my part, and measure, practice, reflect, adjust, and practice more.

When I do my part, great things happen.

That is the question of the week: Are you doing your part?

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