Are You Getting Better?

Having coached youth athletics for many years, primarily softball, baseball, and basketball, the main criteria I used to evaluate success was whether the athletes improved from the beginning to the end of the season. Wins are definitely better than losses, but if each member of the team is improving, then, at the end of the season, multiplying this improvement by 10 or 12 team members, the winning will usually take care of itself because the team improved.

You can’t always evaluate yourself with wins and losses because there will always be teams and individual players that have more talent. You cannot control your God-given talent, but you can control your improvement. You have to want to become the best you can be. Diligence and the desire to improve trump talent-only over time.

I also use this same evaluation process when working with kids individually who want to get better. Assuming the athlete wants to improve, and that is the big first question that has to be honestly answered. The person has to want to and be committed to improving. Firms have to want to improve and the team members in the firm have to want to improve. Do you have an improvement-based culture in your firm?

One thing I have noticed when watching teams practice or warm up, or have witnessed in some of the members of my teams is that they often tend to “go through the motions” during practice or before games. When athletes practice, the practice has to be focused on improving some skill that is being taught. One that is usually lacking in the individual or team. Just “going through the motions” doesn’t cut it if you really want to improve. Too often, I see athletes taking it easy in batting practice, fielding grounders, shooting free throws, or whatever area of their game they are trying to improve. Their technique is lackadaisical to say the least!

This also applies in business and, I believe, particularly to financial advisory firms. Like an elite-level athlete, you usually know the skills to improve your business and get it to the next level. Also like an elite level athlete, though, you must go out each and every day to train to get better. If everyone on your team improves day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year, think how great your firm will be in a relatively short time. Don’t just go through the motions, improve your game and make your firm an elite level performer.

I think this saying sums it up:

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”—Vince Lombardi

Are you and your team improving?