Get Better, Work Better, Right Now

Businessman looking at calendar on tabletYou have an obligation to yourself. Put it on your calendar if that's what it takes.

By Bill Reeb

Whatever you decide you want to improve or accomplish takes effort. Relationships take effort. Your job takes effort. Having fun takes effort.

MORE: Stay in the Present | Investing in Loss | You Might Be Your Biggest Obstacle | What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do | Stop Wishing Your Life Away | Don’t Let Inertia Determine Your Direction | What Does ‘Getting Stuck’ or ‘Being Stuck’ Mean?
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Know that whatever is important to you could easily start to wither away if you don’t give it the right amount of attention.
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Stay in the Present

business meeting of a woman and two menThis goes for both your business and personal lives.

By Bill Reeb

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming and realized a significant amount of time has passed while you were on autopilot and you can’t remember any details in between?

MORE: Investing in Loss | Constantly Build on the Basics | From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution | Expect and Embrace Failure Anytime You Do New Work | Determining Your Desires Should Be an Active Process | Know Where You Are Running To
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In the beginning, when I was driving back and forth between Austin and Arlington when Michaelle was earning her Ph.D., I found that there were times when my mind would get immersed in a topic and when I came back to the present, I might have driven between 50 and 100 miles. I couldn’t remember passing through cities. I did make the drive often, so the road was familiar, but what a scary thought that I was driving a death machine at 70 miles an hour on a crowded freeway and had no recollection of my navigation for such a long distance.
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Three ‘Bads’ and You’re Out

Exhausted man rubbing his eyes under glassesStop sabotaging yourself.

By Bill Reeb

Third “bad” and you’re out.

This is a philosophy that I adopted years ago while I was reflecting on a number of situations that had gone wrong as I was doing the work. As I have mentioned numerous times before, when we make mistakes (and for me that is often), that tends to trigger a time of great reflection.

MORE: Investing in Loss | Constantly Build on the Basics | From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution | Expect and Embrace Failure Anytime You Do New Work
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One day, I noticed a trend. As I would reflect on events ending negatively, I realized that in almost every case, my mistakes had compounded before they hurt me. So, for this discussion, when I refer to a “bad,” this is simply a shorthand way of saying “I made a mistake.”
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Investing in Loss

If you rely only on your "winning" skill set, you'll never develop anything else.

By Bill Reeb

“Invest in loss” is a technique that helps us expand our knowledge and ability by setting our ego aside so that we can learn how to work better and get better. With invest-in-loss, the focus is on improving; whether you win or lose, whether you look bad or like a pro, whether you are embarrassed or held up as an example, the key is to improve.

MORE: Constantly Build on the Basics | How ‘Take What’s Given’ Works in Business | Learn to Work ‘Better’ Instead of ‘Harder’ | Be Realistic Regarding Expectations
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Don’t confuse investing in loss with “give up and don’t care.” These two phrases have nothing in common. While investing in loss still means you are trying, you are not restricting yourself to those approaches that give you the best chance of “winning.”
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Constantly Build on the Basics

Climber standing atop mountain with another in distanceThe goal is to work better, not just more.

By Bill Reeb

Always keeping the basics top of mind can help you work better. This technique is about making sure you are always building on a strong foundation – strong enough for where you are now, but also strong enough to support where you plan to be.

MORE: How ‘Take What’s Given’ Works in Business | You Might Be Your Biggest Obstacle | What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do | Stop Wishing Your Life Away | Don’t Let Inertia Determine Your Direction | Let Go of What You Think You Know
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If your foundation isn’t built for the load you will eventually put to bear on it, then though you might make great progress doing the work in the short term, your gains will all crumble underneath you in the long term.
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How ‘Take What’s Given’ Works in Business

Extended hands on black backgroundDon't ignore the opportunities right in front of you.

By Bill Reeb

In the practice of martial arts, the concept of "take what's given" is drilled in to teach us to respond to what our opponent is offering rather than either following some mental plan we have conjured up or overrelying on our strengths.

MORE: You Might Be Your Biggest Obstacle | From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution | Expect and Embrace Failure Anytime You Do New Work | Determining Your Desires Should Be an Active Process | Know Where You Are Running To | Let Go of What You Think You Know
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When you have an unfamiliar opponent, both a mental plan and leveraging strengths require information you don’t have to dependably work. In other words, those two options presume superiority; that I know my strengths are greater or that my plan has all the necessary contingencies to appropriately react to the actions and reactions of my opponent. How could you have this level of knowledge or insight about an unknown opponent?
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You Might Be Your Biggest Obstacle

Young man facing image of himselfSelf-criticism is healthy ... until it isn't.

By Bill Reeb

A couple of years ago, when I was consulting onsite with the executive team, one of the managers pulled me aside and asked me for some personal advice. She said, “I am thinking about asking to go part time because the stress of this job is really getting to me. What do you think they will say?”

MORE: From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution | Learn to Work ‘Better’ Instead of ‘Harder’ | Be Realistic Regarding Expectations | A Clear Direction Provides You a Sanity Check | Refining Desire
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I told her that I thought they would be willing to do whatever she wanted. But then I added, “What are the owners or your direct boss doing to create this stress?” Here was the conversation that followed:
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Expect to Change Your Plan

Man scratching head while standing at crossroadsAdjustments are not only OK, but expected.

By Bill Reeb

This sounds like an odd comment to make given the importance I have assigned to identifying your desires and creating plans and tactics to achieve them. But we aren’t focusing on Desire in this step, but rather the Work needed to achieve your desires.

MORE: From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution | Learn to Work ‘Better’ Instead of ‘Harder’ | Be Realistic Regarding Expectations | A Clear Direction Provides You a Sanity Check | Refining Desire | Roadblocks from People with Good Intentions
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Desires and plans change, or we need to be flexible enough to allow them to change as we gain more knowledge, skills or experience as we do the work. In other words, you want to leverage the wisdom you gain from doing the work.
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From Martial Arts to Business: 5 Steps of Evolution

Two men training in tae kwon do at gym"While change can be risky, remaining the same can even be riskier."

By Bill Reeb

John, my instructor, teaches us that there is a hierarchy to learning martial arts.

MORE: Learn to Work ‘Better’ Instead of ‘Harder’ | What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do | Stop Wishing Your Life Away | Don’t Let Inertia Determine Your Direction | Let Go of What You Think You Know
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First you learn techniques, like punching and kicking. As you gain confidence in your technique, you can jump to a higher level and incorporate interval into your self-defense toolkit.
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Learn to Work ‘Better’ Instead of ‘Harder’

Man working hard at office deskThis extends to how you use and train your people.

By Bill Reeb

Overachievers typically don’t have a problem working hard, but they often have a problem working “better.” So let's focus on learning how to work better.

MORE: What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do | Expect and Embrace Failure Anytime You Do New Work | Determining Your Desires Should Be an Active Process | Know Where You Are Running To | Let Go of What You Think You Know
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Regarding any technique, know that by remaining open to learning while doing the work (letting go of what you think you know), that is where you will find the “wisdom in the work,” which can bubble up into profound thoughts and ideas that can help you work better.
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What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do

Businessman in dark gray suit raise his hand in action of stop and word "stop" on his red palmMake sure your plans are sustainable.

By Bill Reeb

As you continue doing the work, as you make progress toward your desires, much of your focus should rightfully be on “What can I do today to move me one step closer to whatever I am trying to achieve?” While “doing the work” really seems to be about actions you should take, often it is just as much – if not more – about what actions to stop.

MORE: Expect and Embrace Failure Anytime You Do New Work | Be Realistic Regarding Expectations | A Clear Direction Provides You a Sanity Check | Refining Desire | Roadblocks from People with Good Intentions
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In martial arts, regardless of the activity, learning to use proper technique is essential.
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