Focused on Improvement

My mentor John Maxwell says, “Poor thinkers are slaves to their own thoughts.”  I have written about tending to your thoughts in many different ways, but this quote really brings to our attention the importance of focusing on getting better, rather than just continuing our shortcomings as if they don’t exist.  We can make the decision to be more positive and focused on one of our bad habits, but that isn’t enough.  We have to manage our decision to focus on getting better.  I have a saying that I like to use for myself and when I say it mentally it reminds me to keep my attitude right.  The says simply says, “Everyday Advance!”  It works so well that now when I say it to myself I am changed immediately because it has become a habit.  It is as if there is positive energy already surrounding those words and all I have to do is to release them.

When we recognize that all of us have to do some maintenance on our attitude regularly we are acknowledging that it doesn’t happen automatically.  It takes effort from us but also the recognition that we can focus ourself in a better way.  For example a lifelong attitude weakness is my impatience with people.  I decided that it was a habit that wasn’t serving me well.  As I became impatient having already understood something and waiting for others, I decided that it would be better to learn what they were struggling with in order to better explain things to others in the future.  A change in that habit has enhanced my teaching of others.  By taking something that you know is a particular trait of yours you can turn it around to a strength and use it to help others.  It may not be easy but you can always find something good in every difficult situation.

Benjamin Franklin wrote a list of behaviors that he lived by and worked on weekly throughout this life.  He called them 13 Precepts.  A precept is a general rule which is intended to help regulate how we think.  He choose 13 of them because one can concentrate on one of these traits for a week and work your way through the list.  You will repeat the list four times in the course of a year, having spent 4 weeks on each of them.  By concentrating on one for a week, you can remind yourself that you want to live in a better way.  If you are curious here is a link to them:  One that I particularly like is number two: Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. When I practice this as a habit, I often catch myself getting ready to say something and then stopping myself because it either doesn’t add to the conversation, or it is my opinion which contains biased language.  Many times I stop and realize that it just isn’t necessary to say eveything we think.  Now, if others would just adopt this attitude.

Having a system to develop your character, such as Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Precepts will help to move you to a higher level of performance.  Over time others will definitely notice that there is just something different that they like about you.  I hope that you will adopt these or write your own and begin to practice them.

Yours for a Better Life,