The term “self” improvement alone is enough to make us believe it’s all about the individual. If I want to work on self-improvement, it has to be all about me and how I change what I’m doing … right?
According to a new “self-affirmation theory,” when we try to tackle self-improvement on our own, our egos often get in the way and prevent us from making the progress we really need.
I like to think of it as a blind spot. I can’t see my own blind spot, but the people around me can. And it’s the same with self-improvement.
Self-improvement can’t be self-diagnosed. Often times, we need help from the people closest to us.
The Harvard Business Review, believes the key to getting rid of our blind spots involves building a “self-improvement team.” According to them, there are five ways to build this kind of team. I want to match each point with personal application steps so you can begin to build your own self-improvement team.
Create space for a monthly review of how you’re doing
“…I have them gather a team of five to seven people made up of colleagues, friends, and even family. The people are told about specific areas the leader is working to develop and asked to watch for progress and setbacks. Each month the leader checks in to ask “How am I doing?” Each person shares three to four observations they’ve had during the month and, for setbacks, offers suggestions for improvement.”
Personal application: Define this group of people for yourself. Make a list, and see if they’d be willing to go on this journey with you. Be sure they each meet the following criteria:
- This person knows me well enough, or is around me consistently enough, to notice changes in my personal development.
- This person is willing to be honest with me about my progress in a constructive way.
- This person genuinely cares or has some kind of personal stake in my improvement; I know they’ll take it seriously.
In other words, if your mom doesn’t have one bad thing to say about you … or, if your mother-in-law doesn’t have one good thing to say about you … they may not make the cut for your self-improvement team.
“Knowing that someone is going to ask you about commitments you’ve made creates a level of accountability that raises the ante on following through … Having a trusted colleague to help correct faulty self-beliefs and, yes, provide a bit of scolding for self-pity or backsliding can make all the difference.”
Personal application: Is there someone in your peer group you trust to be your accountability partner? Shoot them a text or give them a call, schedule lunch, and ask them if they’d be willing to be your confidant on this self-improvement journey.
Create a community around mutual self-improvement efforts
“Mutual reinforcement from others working to improve similar areas can be a powerful source of motivation. Look for a peer, or even a group of peers, with whom you can meet regularly. Online learning communities, discussion groups, or courses can provide a shared learning platform. The exchange of empathy, success stories, and “watch out for…” insights can build confidence and commitment to press through setbacks, and can accelerate the adoption of new behavior.”
Personal application: Is there a group of leaders in your circle who are needing to work on the same thing you are? Seek them out. If you’re not sure where to find a group of peers, add this to your list of things to pray about. Ask God for a specific community to help sharpen you and vice versa.
Create time and space for practical practice.
“Improving any aspect of our lives — building new skills, changing bad habits, adopting new approaches, or shoring up weaknesses — is an ongoing, arduous process … Without practical application, change becomes a cognitive exercise that imagines what change might be like but never attempts to actually change.”
Personal application: Write down 2 or 3 ways you can make real, practical attempts towards your self-improvement goal. Try incorporating them into your schedule 2-3 times a week as a way of practicing.
Hire the right coach
“While it’s surely not a requirement for self-improvement, hiring a coach can be a very effective approach to development for some people … But finding the right coach is harder than most think.”
Personal application: If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, make sure you do your research first to see if they’d be a good fit for your needs. If you’re interested in working with me, you can find more information on my Coaching page. Let’s talk!
The road to self-improvement doesn’t have to be a lonely, discouraging one. Now that you know self-improvement can be a group effort, it’s time to start building your team!
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