Focus on Continuous Improvement

Seeing the positive in situations and experiences becomes easier if the focus is on continuous improvement. Success isn’t always about winning; it’s often about learning, growing, and improving. Although there is a natural tendency to compare ourselves with others, the more this type of thinking is redirected, the more successful we will feel. While having role models is wise, trying to compete with them is not.

We should measure progress by improvement in ourselves, rather than in comparison to others. When pleased with our efforts—especially when we see improvement—we invest more effort. Improvement comes through self-evaluation, practice, feedback, and more evaluation. The better the quality of our work, the more we are pleased and the more we want to engage in the activity. The following story illustrates this concept.

A woman having lunch at a small café was seated next to a family celebrating their son’s basketball game. Their conversation was so lively that the woman joined in. “You must have been on the winning team,” she said.

The kid grinned from ear to ear, “No, we lost by 20 points. The other team had a killer defense. We were only able to make one basket.”

“Did you make the basket?” she asked.

With his mouth filled with cake and ice cream, the boy shook his head, “No.”

His father reached across the table to give him a high five. His mother hugged him and said, “You were awesome.”

The woman at the next table rubbed her chin.

The boy looked at the confused woman and said, “At last week’s game, I took nine shots but they all fell short of the basket. This week I took eight shots and three of them hit the rim! Dad says I’m making progress.”

When young people try something new and are corrected or criticized before having feelings of success or progress, they become discouraged. When we are tempted to correct our children, we need to take into consideration where they are in the stages of that learning.

Accuracy and precision should come after there has been some sense of success. Periodically, find some improvement your child has made and acknowledge it. Remember, success breeds confidence and further successes.