I first noticed my obsession with self improvement in a college cafeteria. While training for an upcoming track meet, I was bound and determined to eat enough each night to recover from my grueling workouts. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I like to eat a small salad before the main course because I noticed I can eat more if I do so, kind of like warming my stomach up for the main workout.
He burst out laughing, no doubt amused by me not only being the kind of person to pay close enough attention to these details, but to also be treating it like a science.
I imagine that to many of those seeking self improvement this story doesn’t seem so far-fetched, because the ability to improve takes both self awareness and self control.
When it comes to being a better person, every detail counts. Every minor aspect must be taken into consideration and used for a better purpose. You must always work diligently day and night to see real growth occur.
Except that’s not really the case.
Letting Maturity Happen
At work, where I’m involved in a bit of sales, we get weekly reports of our customers which we have worked with and which products they are taking part in. We are rated and ranked according to the percentages of these reports.
Every person tries their heart out to get these numbers to improve, mostly by contacting the customer either by mail, phone, or email.
We mail, call, or email the customers hoping that our sales pitch will have worked and our percentages have improved, which they usually do.
I’ve begun to notice something intriguing, however, in that the weeks where I’m especially busy and am not able to contact customers by numbers seem to improve at just about the same rate as when I send out all those letters.
Why would this happen?
It’s simple. These people are just that, people. They have their own desires, goals, and thought processes. They want the best for themselves just like anyone else and if something benefits them, they pursue it. They come to the products themselves.
In a word, these customers’ accounts of mine, they mature.
Letting Your Mind Work
While you shouldn’t treat your thoughts like they are your customers, you can treat with with enough respect to trust them.
Sometimes the growth we experience is based on more than the books we read, the classes we take, or what have you. Sometimes the problem of growth can be treated by just giving it some time.
Your mind, supplied with the right fuel and given enough time, can make connections that weren’t there before and improve your ability to develop. Just like how there is no set point where you become an “expert” at your job and it is a gradual change, your overall self awareness and control comes from hours of practice.
Making It Habit
For maturity to happen, two basic things are needed: The right education and time.
The right education steers and propels you where you need to go and time it what it takes to get there.
Those of us interested in self improvement, we are obsessed with the education part. We already have the drive and ambition to conquer ourselves. What we can’t stand is waiting.
The advice I’m giving here isn’t to just let go and let whatever happens happen, its to pay special attention to making the education and drive into a habit, one which can take you to success.
If you constantly try to control every detail of every moment, you will eventually burn out.
Forge a habit from what’s important and let the unimportant details fall away.
Most importantly, sometimes relaxing is imperative. Growth is not always a linear slope, sometimes it’s made in leaps and bounds.