What Continous Improvement Means to me!
Before I started to research and write this article, I reflected on my last two articles, virtual networking meetings and the events going on in the world. Each one of these has two common themes for me: change and Continuous Improvement (CI). My original idea for my article was to write about how I use CI in my business. Instead, I decided to write about what Continous Improvement means to me. I think it is essential to share what these mean to me because it will give insight into why I love what I do.
When I first started my journey into the CI world in 2007 at AT&T, I never knew what exciting opportunities would lay ahead for me. During my first week of training in Lean Six Sigma, I was scared because this was a big change for me. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was scared. As continued with my three weeks of training, I started to see that I like Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement. But the most important thing that I learned is that change equals discomfort. I was uncomfortable because this was the first time, I was indeed outside of my comfort zone. I learned during the first few months of being within my new roles as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt that I loved what I was doing. The fear was not being uncomfortable or change; it was fear of being successful. Learning what being successful truly meant was nothing new, but this time it was on a different level. I started to see what my true passion was: I wanted to help other people succeed in business.
Through my first year in CI, it became a mindset that I adapted. I learned that CI is not just about improvement, but how does change affect our lives personally and in business. It was understanding where you are today (Point A), setting your goal (Point B), and taking the journey to get there with a plan that is evolving as we go through each step. Change comes into play when you start to accept that you are not going to be the same person or business at the end journey. As you go through your journey, you begin to learn and embrace being uncomfortable. By becoming uncomfortable, this where we truly start to learn and change! We need to retrain ourselves to learn that change is not a bad thing. While it is frightening, change leads to be uncomfortable, then learning, and then remarkable things happening.
Through the past 13 years of my CI career and journey, I have had many points of As and Bs. Each time I get to my point B, I reflect and celebrate success and the journey that got me there. While I wanted my journey to be a straight line, it is often squiggly line with circles because our point B can change along the way. As my friend, Karyn Ross often reminds me, “How we get there is as (or more important) than where we are going!” That’s why we should always be present and looking to the future at the same time. You never know what doors of opportunity can open for you and your business along the journey. Sometimes it is ok to take a detour because you never know what you are going to learn. In times like these, we need to open to the journey and the detours. It’s all about finding what works best for us and not to define our success based on someone else’s. Your success is going to be different from my success.
What are my learnings?
Through my CI journey, I have learned many different things, but these are the learnings that stick out to me. The learnings are what have helped me to become successful throughout the years.
I understand my mission and passion!
Not matter if I was working in corporate America or running my own business, I have decided to stay true to my mission and passion. I revisit my mission and passion each day to ensure that I stay on track. I define these for myself and live them out each day.
- My passion: I love to help people succeed.
- My mission: I guide business owners and leaders on how to rapidly and efficiently get from point A to point B resulting in real progress and empowerment.
You do not need to be perfect!
Success is not perfection! Success for me comes from defining my own Point A and Point B. The journey and reaching point B are my success. My success is my own, and it is something that I define. I do not have to be perfect to achieve it. Once I let go of perfection, I was able to enjoy my journey.
You just need to start!
I used to wait and be scared to start. Waiting is one of the worst forms of waste. But I still waited because I was worried about what others would think. When I wanted to go back to school for my MBA, I was scared to apply. My husband said, just do it. When I was afraid of starting my first project as LSBB, my husband said, just do it. The day I decided to make a career change and join Nielsen, I was scared that I made the wrong decision. Once again, my husband said, just do it. Don’t wait!
Do you see a theme here? My husband has always been the one out of the two of us to start doing things right away when I wait. Well, let me tell you that he is right. I just need to start. While it took me two years to launch my business, I was slowly doing things behind the scenes to get it started.
So just start doing things and learn as you go! Don’t wait for something to happen. Just start doing so you can make things happen!
It is ok to fail because this is where we learn!
A lot of times, I was scared to start because I was afraid to fail, or I was scared of success. It depends on how you look at it. Failure should not be a bad thing because it allows me to be uncomfortable, which then allows me to learn and move forward. It allows me to change. I get to be the change I want to be in this world. But anything that CI has taught me that change is good. Staying in a comfortable zone does not allow me to learn or grow. Once I learned that it is ok to fail and started learning, I realize that greater things would come being uncomfortable.
It’s not a sprint but a marathon!
I finally realized when I was training for my half marathons that CI really is a journey. I was never sprinter and truly enjoyed my long runs. They taught me so much and have taken me on many journeys. This why I love the CI mindset; I’m grateful to have the journeys that get me from point A to point B. Instead of hurrying up to get to Point B, I’m enjoying the journey with the views. The statement “stop and smell the roses” indeed does mean something.
CI needs to be practice daily, weekly, yearly!
CI is a mindset that needs to be practiced all of the time, even when I do not feel like doing it. Staying consistent and doing each step in my CI plan is something I need to do. If I deviate from my CI plan and do not evaluate how things are going, this is where I do not see progress. I see growth when I do something small each day, each week, and each month.
Even though my original intent with this article was to write how I use CI in my business, I hope my thoughts and learnings on what Continous Improvement means to me has some type of impact. As the world is ever-changing, I know I need to stay focus on my mission and passion. I also need to take my learnings from CI to continue down my journey to help other businesses become successful during these turbulent times. We can help each other out during these times, so each of us can become successful, and the change we want to be in this world.
What are your thoughts on CI, the journey, or failure?
If you would like to chat to see how I can help you and your business, let’s set up some time to connect and learn.