There’s an old saying in the NFL that “if you’re not getting better you’re getting worse.” It’s a warning to players that emphasizes hard work and improvement, lest they be overtaken by their harder-working peers. The same warning applies to many walks of life, but none more than the business world.
The Value of Incremental Improvement
Sharpening the saw means improving your craft. Once you’ve learned the basics of a skill, future gains are usually smaller and more challenging.
Take cooking as an example. There’s a bigger gap in skill between someone turning on the stove for the first time and someone who can cook Hamburger Helper without reading the instructions, than there is between a successful chef and a five-star chef. However, it will likely take years of hard work for a successful chef to make it to a five-star level.
Entrepreneurs should always be sharpening the saw and improving the skills they need to be successful. Whether you want to improve your deal-closing skills or write better code, keep making those small improvements. Your competitors are getting better every day, so you have to do the same just to keep up.
What I’m Working On Personally
Right now, I’m working on getting better at email outreach and goal setting. I’m spending quite a bit of time hustling and spreading the word about a recent product launch, and that means lots of email. During this process I’m working on improving the impact of my communications, and becoming more effective at getting the responses I want.
The same goes for goal setting. I’ve always set very loose goals for my companies. Now I’m taking a more measured approach by setting realistic goals based on research instead of lofty dreams. I’m getting better, and more methodical, but there’s a long way to go.
What Are You Working On?
Now it’s your turn. Do you make sharpening the saw a priority in your company or career? What kinds of things are you working on right now? Comments welcome!