How To Continuously Improve

As a passionate person, you are more likely to have the desire to work on yourself and improve. By having this passion we are making ourselves more valuable, and therefore we can add more value to our team and others. Passion is what really gets people out of bed in the morning.

How do you think the world sees you? Do they see you as a “go-getter”? Do they see you as a leader? Do they see you as a person with a lot of influence? Do they see you as a person with a positive influence? Do they see you as a person with a negative influence? Do they see you as a happy person? Do they see you as an unhappy person?

In my experience as an engineer for the past twenty one years, most of the people I have worked with have not enjoyed what they do. They saw their job as, just that….a job. They didn’t want to get up in the morning to go to work, and they couldn’t wait to leave work at the end of the day to get home.

1. What Experiences Have You Had?

Have you had the same experience in your place of work and industry? The few that eventually changed jobs or got promoted still had exactly the same feelings and attitude. I didn’t see that as any way to live a fulfilling life.

The reason there are so many people like this in the world of business is because of the people they are role modelling.

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As we discussed earlier, a role model can have a positive or negative influence, and if most of the people you work with have a negative attitude then it is highly likely that the rest of the team will have the same attitude. Behaviour breeds behaviour.

These people were not headed in the right direction. They were headed in the wrong direction and worst of all, they were bringing people with them. This can cause a huge problem for any organisation.

Everywhere these people go, they always have the same problem. It is either a problem with the job they’re doing, a problem with their boss, a problem with the work environment, or a problem with their work facilities. Maybe these people need to take a hard look at themselves and realise…….they are the problem.

If you are the problem, seek help to try and solve you. It is very difficult to solve you on your own.

I know this, because earlier in my engineering career, I was that problem. In my first job as an apprentice mechanical engineer, I was very unhappy at the boss I had, and the people I worked with were all very negative and bitter.

2. Do You Have The Right Attitude To Improve?

So I was developing the same attitude. I lived at home with my parents at the time, and I remember on most days of the week when coming home from work, I could snap at anyone for the tiniest thing, which I regret massively.

A month after I finished my apprenticeship, the company I was working with went down and we were all made redundant. I have to admit, I was over the moon because I didn’t have to work with the same engineers again, and more importantly, I wouldn’t have the same boss.

A couple of weeks following my redundancy I got a new job as an engineer for a company who made the colorant in plastic bottles for companies like Sprite and Fanta. My job was to help maintain the machines that did the mixing of the colorant.

From day one I had exactly the same feelings as before, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t like my boss, and the team I worked with had the same bitter and negative attitude.

I remember thinking to myself, is this how the world of work is going to be for me? Was I going to wake up every single day feeling angry that I’ve got to go to work? Would I not like anyone and watch the clock until it was time to go home?

Thinking like that really depressed me, and the worst thing about my thinking was that I believed that it was everyone else’s problem. I believed that it was their fault that they were making me feel like this.

After about six months in that job, I moved to my next job which was in the rail industry and working for the train operating company in Liverpool.

I started there as an engineering technician, which was office based but also required hands on work to help maintain the trains. I thought as the job was different to my two previous jobs, it would make me happier. But, I was wrong.

I still felt the same as before, I still had a bitter attitude towards my boss and also the people I worked with. It must be the engineering industry is what I thought; it must just be full of miserable people.

So, I was again thinking of moving jobs after about six months of working there. This was no way to build a career and I had to address this issue.

In my six months review with my boss, I told him exactly how I felt and that I had felt very similar in my previous jobs. Before I could tell him why I felt like that, he immediately said, “You are the problem, Tom. The only way you can change how you feel and become happier in your job is to change yourself, not anyone else”.

He had made me realise that no matter where I went, I always had the same problem….ME. He also made me realise of the amazing position I was in to build a career and life that meant something. His exact words were “Be grateful for where you are Tom, but always strive for something more.” Those words have never left me.

I made the decision at that very moment to ALWAYS be grateful for what I had, but ALWAYS strive for something more. I had to change what was necessary to change: ME!

About a year after that conversation with my boss, I was in a much better and happier place. I was still working with the same company, and proud to be part of it. The company had invested in me by putting me through my engineering degree and signing me up to an engineering graduate scheme.

3. Do You Invest In yourself?

The investment that the company had made in me helped me to realise that I needed to also invest in myself to continually develop. The fact that I was developing myself increased my influence with the rest of the team, and they then wanted to do the same.

There were more engineers who were invested in and put through university. This improved morale in the team and ultimately was better for the company as a whole.

Leaders embrace change, they focus their energy on change, they don’t fear change. How much are you willing to change?

When your company invests in you, it shows you that they care by making that investment. That simple gesture of investment by them cannot be it though, you have to invest in yourself too. Only you can make yourself happier, like I did.

Making that decision to ALWAYS be grateful for what you have in your life and in your job, allows you to see what you have differently. Be grateful for your boss, your teammates, and the benefits that the company provide you.

4. How Grateful Are You With What You Have?

For example, your salary, and what the benefits of having a job allows you to do in life (holidays, material things etc.). Most importantly, be grateful for the opportunities that your company provide you.

These opportunities allow you to grow both in your role and for the future. See what you have in your job and as a future leader as a privilege.

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Since I changed myself and my views on how I saw things, every job I’ve had since has been a place for me to grow and to learn new things. It has also been a place where I can make a difference, every day.

I find it amazing that companies will pay you to develop yourself. They are getting you ready for your next step in your career; no matter if that is with them or with a different company. How can you not be grateful for that?

Make the decision to ALWAYS be grateful for what you have, but ALWAYS strive for something more.

By making that decision, you are setting yourself on that right direction. So, it is one of the most positive decisions you will ever make, because that is what it is…A DECISION!

How would you like to be remembered?

By being an average person or an excellent person? By being a leader or a follower?

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

24 thoughts on “How To Continuously Improve

  1. Hi Tom,

    To be honest, I can actually see this from both sides, and I have definitely experienced the same as you have in your initial roles.

    I’ve worked in the Banking industry for the majority of my working life.

    I remember absolutely hating my first ever role, and I actually only stayed at the company for 2 years – that was more than enough for me.

    Even though this was my chosen profession and what my education was based around, I found the people I worked with (and my boss) to be completely different to me.

    Admittedly, my own real experience of working prior to this were Saturday and holiday jobs in retail.

    Even though the Banking industry may considered as serious, conservative, and stuffy in nature, I have always been a bit of a joker, the life and soul, the one who makes people laugh.

    Don’t get me wrong I still have my serious side, and over the years I have proven to be very good at my job within my chosen career.

    It wasn’t until I moved onto another company that I finally found my “love” for my career.

    I will say that the people were very different (I guess this could also be the difference between working in busy Central London or a nice, gentle post in the outskirts), but I actually learned from my first experience.

    I feel I was much the same as you, and I felt that everything was someone else’s fault.

    Plus, I came to the conclusion, that obviously working for the next 40 years was going to suck.

    With that said, I went through a complete transition in the second role, I absolutely loved it.

    I was focused, motivated, and I very quickly shot up the leadership ladder.

    I also ensured that I completed further professional qualifications, and I took time out to work on myself.

    Funnily enough, based on some of your previous articles, and indeed this one, this is when I first came across the person I view as one of my greatest ever mentors and role models.

    I’m sure his influence helped me towards this complete change of attitude.

    It’s always great to read about your experiences and what you’ve learned form them Tom.

    And I always see a little bit of myself in there too.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Your comments on my articles are always s thorough and helpful, and I am truly grateful for that. It really does mean a lot to me.

      I love that you are from a completely different industry to me, but we are having very similar experiences. The reason for this is because people are people, and no matter what industry we are in, when it comes to leadership, the principles are the same. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences because a lot of people will be able to relate to you and learn from you, so thank you for that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

      1. Hi Tom,

        I completely agree (again, LOL).

        You’re so right.

        Irrespective of industry or career, pretty much everything is “people-oriented”.

        So, as you say, a great leader will work on specific principles, and I’m sure these same principles are applicable wherever this person works/leads.

        In a roundabout way it reminds of many sports coaches.

        Some of the best coaches weren’t particularly that good at their chosen sport, but they make outstanding leaders.

        Simply because they know how to get the best out of their team.

        Anyway, thanks for the response as always Tom, much appreciated.

        Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing what delights you have in the coming weeks.

        Partha

        1. Hi Partha,

          Thank you for replying to my comment. It is much appreciated and meas a lot to me.

          Sports coaches are great examples of people who were not the best at the actual sport, but are great leaders. Two that spring to mind are Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp. They were nowhere near the top of the game when it comes to playing football, but they are at the very top of the game when it comes to coaching. They know how to get the best for their team and can inspire them to be their best.

          Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

          All the best,

          Tom

  2. Such a pity, don’t you think, Tom, that so many people see their job as a job and not as a passion. Maybe that’s why – on the same note – so many people see 2020 as a lost year.

    When we have passion for what we do we indeed jump out of bed in the morning, like you said. And we are probably better armed to disappointments or setbacks, and will try to find a different way then.

    What I am wondering, after reading your story about your 3rd job – did the people around you change as well, or was it just you that made all the difference?

    Oh, and BTW, you will be really grateful for your boss having the insight and the courage to tell you who the problem was, aren’t you? 🙂

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. I am unsure if you found this article valuable or not?

      You mention my 3rd job, it certainly wasn’t just me that made all the difference. My team made the difference and they were the ones who I gave the credit too. When things went wrong, I took the responsibility, when things go right, the team take the credit. That is part of my leadership philosophy.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom,

    I absolutely loved this article. I can say that I started my self-improvement journey this year and since then I have changed so much. Things that used to have a negative impact on me , now are temporary feelings and emotions.

    This article compromises all the techniques I have used in my improvement journey.: investing in yourself, being grateful , wanting to improve and learning from your past experiences.

    Attitude and making the decision to change and be better and sticking with it it’s so important.

    Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work, you are helping many people.

    Kind regards,
    Yoana

    1. Hi Yoana,

      Thank you for your comment and I am so pleased that you loved this article. This really does mean a lot to me.

      It is great to hear that you started your self improvement journey this year, and that you have changed for the better. Thank you for saying that I am helping many people because that is my ultimate goal and commitment.

      Keep helping people, keep leading and keep improving.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. You’re so right Tom. We cannot change the world before changing ourselves. Leading by example means everything needs to start from us, our physical & mental health needs to be taken care of before we go out there trying to help others.

    1. Hi Rosalba,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found this article valuable.

      I couldn’t agree with you more, changing ourselves is how we are going to change our world for the better.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Continuous improvement has everything to do with adaptation and perseverance. We must learn how to strive for the better, even when we don’t feel like to.

    Improvement takes time, dedication, and is an ongoing process. (contrary to what others think)

    With improvement comes change, and with change must come our willingness to overcome things that we don’t feel comfortable with.

    And I agree, Tom. Investing in oneself plays a considerable role, and what better way to invest in yourself than to commit to the daily grind and put your mind on surpassing all the obstacles that life has prepared for us.

    1. Hi Gorjan,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you found this article valuable.

      I completely agree with you that continuous improvement has to do with adapting and persevering. There are times when I am not in the right frame of mind to persevere, but I do it just like you say, because I know it is the right thing to do. When we can do that, that is when we are on the right path.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom, very good article. Many of us have been there. I think it is kind of part of our personal growth. I like one phrase from Early Nightingale, if I’m not wrong. He says, we go to work for satisfaction not to earn money. There is truth on that. We spend more time at work than with our families. We really need to enjoy it.

    However, there are a lot of factors involved on that but, as you well said, our attitude has a huge impact. We can’t change others but we can change ourselves and when we change ourselves we see things differently. That is a great learning and an ongoing task.

    We always want to be remembered as an excellent person and for that we have to do our part.

    1. Hi TGP,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found this a very good article.

      You are right, we do spend more time at work than we do with our families, so we need to enjoy it if we want to make the most of that time. If we just do it simply for the money, then we will not give our best effort. We will not give the best of our minds and we will not be willing to go the extra mile for others.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. I’m so glad that you published this article and I plan to share with my coworkers. It’s very interesting. The part that’s most impactful to me is “Leaders embrace change, they focus their energy on change, they don’t fear change”

    I always got excited with change. I never felt fearful of it and only thought it’s going to be a positive experience. I wish more people would think like that.

    Thanks for leading and helping others to lead!!

    1. Hi Alyse,

      Thank you for your comment and it is great that you want to share this article with your colleagues. I would love to hear their feedback on what they have learned too.

      I’m excited that you get excited by change, because as we both know, a lot of people fear change. It is up to us to lead change and help people overcome that fear of change. I know you can do that and I know that you will do that too in the new year.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi, Tom,

    Your story is truly inspiring, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate, including myself.

    I liked the words of your boss so much I decided to make them my laptop background.

    Even though these things might seem natural and easy in essence, we too often tend to overlook them.

    I have changed 3 jobs throughout my career and in January I start a new job which I plan to do differently with all your tips in mind 🙂

    Thank you for sharing today, and I wish you a fulfilling New 2021 year!

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this article inspiring, it really means a lot to me.

      I hope my old bosses words keep inspiring you, and I hope your new job goes really well. It is a great time to start something new at the beginning of the year.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom,

    Indulging in self-pity is not the answer, but a commitment to self development is key.

    I am a passionate person and constantly desire to improve myself. I feel by me having this passion; I am adding value to myself.

    This post has confirmed the fact that by adding value, I am arming myself for any setbacks that come my way. In addition, I can face tomorrow with confidence.

    Thanks for such an inspiring post.

    1. Hi A ekufaa,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this such an inspiring article.

      I’m pleased to hear that you are committed to self development, and that you are passionate to adding value to yourself. Keep me updated on how you are going with your self development.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Glad I came across this interesting article.

    I am a passionate person who likes to invest in myself. I feel by so doing; I am adding value to myself. With value, you can face tomorrow’s setbacks and challenges with confidence.

    I have shared this outstanding post with my colleagues at work.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi A ekufaa,

      Thank you for your second comment and for sharing this article with your colleagues.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Improving ourselves is literally the best thing we can do. Unfortunately most people are not familiar with self improvement because it is not something taught in school. But in order to be a great leader, or great in anything you have to work on yourself first. No matter what skills you have, if you are a negative person who is not grateful for what you have, you will always struggle.

    1. Hi Delyana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this article valuable.

      I couldn’t agree more that improving ourselves is literally the best thing we can do. I think you’re right that we should be teaching personal development in schools, so that we know to continue it when we leave. Great recommendation.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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