In my office, I have a sign that says, "Yesterday ended last night." It's a great sign because it helps me keep our company's success in perspective. When I want to celebrate because the previous day was a good day, I look at the sign and say, "Okay John, that was yesterday. The party's over. Go home, go to bed and get ready for another day."
Life is not a snapshot. It would be wonderful if, at the pinnacle of your success, you could take a picture of it and assume nothing will ever change. But it will change, and if you don't change with it, what got you there yesterday won't keep you there in the future. Yesterday ended last night, remember? And--even more importantly--today's success won't sustain you tomorrow.
This can be tough to digest because when your business or job is going really well, the tendency is to sit back and say, "This is it. We've found the recipe for success--this is how it's going to be from here on out." Unfortunately, that kind of attitude doesn't lead to growth; it only fosters stagnation.
As tempting as it is to rest on your laurels, you have to keep reinventing yourself and you have to keep reinventing your organization. Ninety percent of INJOY's profit margin today comes from work we were not doing six years ago. And when we look at our game plan for the next five years and the growth that we're planning to have in our company, nothing in the next five years is determined on what we're doing right now.
Let me put it this way: If what you did five years ago still satisfies you, you're not doing anything worthwhile today. I look at material I produced five years ago and I want to apologize for it. You see, a sign of growth in your life is when what you did yesterday no longer thrills you; not because you're bored, but because you're growing.
In light of that, here are five ways to make sure today's success doesn't impede future accomplishment in your life.
1. Keep growing personally.
Growth equals change. When you grow, you change. Notice that I did not say change equals growth. You can change without growing, but you cannot grow without changing.
2. Continually ask, "Is there a better way?"
When someone asks this question, the answer is always yes. There's always a better way, a more efficient method, a more effective approach. You're in deep trouble if you think you have the best way because there's no such thing. There's always a better way; and your search to be a little bit better or a little bit different will keep you in a continual growth spurt.
3. Pay for outside consulting.
I learned a long time ago that if you really want to grow, you need to have a fresh set of eyes examining your business from time to time. So hire an outside consultant who knows your business well to check out your organization and see what you're too close to see.
4. Don't protect the past.
We all have a tendency to protect our past--the decisions we've made and the people we've hired. It's easy to look at an employee who's not performing well and think, "I really believe they're about to get on track," when in reality, they haven't improved in seven years. The real effort comes when you have to say, "I made a bad decision in hiring them, and it's time for them to go."
5. Build on your success--don't sit on it.
When your company applauds you, take a tape recorder and record it. Every now and then when you're alone, turn it on and say, "There was a time..." Then turn the tape off and start growing. Start improving. Start disciplining yourself to get better. And keep people around you who are not impressed with you. The worst thing that happens with leaders is that they surround themselves with fans instead of building productive teams. You don't need people to admire you. You need people to say, "I don't think that was a good idea; we should have done this." Those are the kind of people who will push you to grow. They won't just let you sit there basking in the warmth of today's success."
Once you've gotten into the habit of doing these five things go ahead and celebrate the success you had today. Feel good about it. Enjoy it. But when tomorrow comes, get over it. Let it go. Don't let today's achievements stand in the way of future growth.
This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free monthly e-newsletter 'Leadership Wired' available at www.MaximumImpact.com.