I never make New Year’s resolutions. The reason is that I can never keep them. But I can think of continuous improvement in my life. That is how Japan made inroads into the American automobile industry. The concept which was fully developed by an American found favor in Japan long before it did in the United States. Now the concept of continuous improvement process has spread throughout the world. Even the smallest businesses practice it.
There is a Scripture in our church that says, in my words, that by doing small things we can gain great results. (Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. BOM Alma 37:6) That is what continuous improvement is all about.
What I am suggesting in this article is that we apply the principle of continuous improvement in our lives rather than just in our businesses. We need to look at ourselves to see what we are up to. Then we will see that small changes will improve things.
We can think of some broad areas for improvement. But you should make your own list. Yes, you can use my list if that is what you want to do, and you can add to it or subtract from it later. It it will give you a start and we all need to start somewhere.
So here is my list:
When we get up in the morning, the first thing we usually do is to go into the bathroom and look in the mirror. Okay, you may do something else first, but before you leave the bathroom you’ll look into the mirror.
What do you see there?
I see an 83-year-old man, at least I will be 83 Sunday, with a bit of gray hair. I see that he needs a shave and he thinks that he should be taking better care of his teeth.
I also see that I have a bit of fat around my belly and I know that is not good for my diabetes and my heart. I must need exercise.
I decided I need a shower. I stink.
So I shave, shower, clean my teeth and slap some shaving lotion on my face. I put on my Old Spice Fresh deodorants. I applied the medication that my dermatologists told me to use.
We are not even out of the bathroom yet and I have a list of things that I can work on:
1. I will endeavor to eat very carefully. I have type II diabetes and I’ve had four heart procedures. I need to avoid fat that comes from too much meat and dairy. I will tell my wife’s caregiver that I am not to eat beef and pork as often as fish and salads and fruits and grains and nuts. I will stay away from sweets as much as I can. I know I cannot do that so I will limit sweets to a tiny amount a few times a week.
2. I will make sure that I use my electric toothbrush every day or two. It is more effective than my regular toothbrush. I will also floss on Monday and Thursday. Now that is very specific. I will have to put a sign on the bathroom mirror to remind me.
3. Since I hate to shave, I will use an electric razor to shave on the days that I do not shave properly. I don’t like the electric razors but they can reduce the pain of shaving with the brush and lather and all that hot water that feels so good. I will try to find an electric razor that actually works.
4. I will use any skin medications prescribed by mine dermatologists exactly as he says. I will have to add another note on the bathroom mirror.
After I come out of the bathroom, I will sit on my bed and pull underwear and socks and a T-shirt out of my dresser drawer. I will take a pair of blue jeans (Levi’s), placed by suspenders on them and I’m ready for the day. I take my dirty clothes and put them in the washer.
After I am dressed, I prepare my wife’s medications and prepare orange juice or apple juice or such with a protein additive added. I put her medications in yogurt. Then I go back into the bedroom, raise her bed and feed her. She usually doesn’t say much because she has a very difficult time speaking.
After I have medicated her, I head for my computer to see if I can get some work done before my wife’s care giver gets here. If it is a day where my granddaughter is taking care of my wife, I hurry things up a bit because she will bring her two children who like to pester their grandpa’s.
5. I have been working on this, but there are times when you should not wear blue jeans and a T-shirt. I will try to dress more appropriately for the occasion.
6. I will make sure that I talk to my wife even if she is not responding. Every day, I guess I do this, I will make sure that she knows that I love her.
7. My wife sometimes is not kind to her caregivers. Who does not want to be washed and rolled around by other people. She is very weak and cannot stand very well. So she gets frustrated. I will continue to work with her to make sure that she is always kind to others. She was always kind throughout her life. And I need to encourage her to continue to be that way.
I haven’t worked for over 20 years. I piddle around on the Internet, hoping to make a buck or two. I have been trying to improve my Internet work.
When I was an executive in industry, managing both technical and non-technical employees, I expected certain things from my employees. I expected them to get to work on time, to follow up on the responsibilities, to show respect for my managers, to contribute to what we were doing, and to be clean and neat and friendly. I also expected them to be competent. Perhaps there are some ways that you can contribute to your employer.
I guess you can say that I am self-employed as a writer and webmaster. Here are some things that I have been working on and will continue to do so during 2015:
1. I will streamline the appearance of my websites. I will have better headers and logos designed by my designer.
2. I will increase the length of my post and my webpages.
3. I will be careful to make sure that my content is relevant to what the Internet searchers are looking for.
4. I will write more poetry. I will not write a novel this year. I’m getting too old and senile for that. But I might write a book and I will make an outline for that book.
5. I will not use PPC for traffic to my websites, but I may purchase some ads on Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin. I will use traffic generating techniques other than social marketing.
After all that, I’m already tired. Well I don’t have to do everything at once.
In this section I am thinking of our interactions with other people, including our family, and our community. How we interact with others is very important. Others don’t see as we see ourselves.
Self-centered folks often don’t realize that they are self-centered. They know that they are perfect, that they never make mistakes, and that the world is a better place because of them. Most people think that egocentric folks are arrogant and rude and obnoxious and undesirable and they wish they would just stay away.
I once knew a lady from Australia who did not use deodorant, a church friend and a very beautiful woman. It didn’t bother her one bit. That was what she wished to. But the people in our church were always talking about her not using deodorant and not being able to get too close to her. As with egocentric people, usually — except in anger — nobody tells us that we have a problem.
I hired a chemist years ago, a good friend, who took off for travel all around the world. When he got home, I hired him after chasing him down in Singapore. He was living in his boat. Well he became rather odoriferous.
I talked to my boss about it and he said to have the company nurse talk to him.
I don’t know what she told him, maybe I told him about the company showers that were available to him, but he clean up his act very rapidly.
Telling him was an act of kindness to all of us.
Appropriate dress for certain occasions varies in the minds of different people. I noticed that in Arizona, and it is certainly this way in Idaho, that folks have different ideas as to how they should dress for church or for a funeral.
In Arizona, proper dress for a man at a funeral or church was a pair of Levi’s and a white shirt.
Some folks can’t afford church or funeral clothing and they would never wear them for any other occasion, not even a wedding.
In the workplace, proper dress is important. That is why fast food joints and restaurants and businesses often have uniforms for their employees. Hospitals certainly do. You can make money laundering and supplying uniforms for businesses.
So at work, I suggest you wear proper attire. You will know what that is for your business or job.
How do you greet people? Do you greet them formally or informally or not at all?
Is your handshake like a wet noodle or so firm that it breaks the bones of the fingers? Most peoples don’t like that.
Some people do not like to be touched. They especially do not like to be hugged. So know your friends and associates before you maul them.
What about your speech?
Could you use a good grammar book telling you how to avoid comments grammatical errors. Not many speak proper English here in Idaho, even the educated and upper-class folks. I used to cringe in church, but I’ve got use to it. But you should try to master your native tongue so that you use proper English or Spanish or whatever, in your speech and in your writing.
Writing is often important in the workplace. Hardly anybody use a pencil or pen anymore.
They do everything on their iPhone or on their computer. But sometimes handwriting is required and some folks will judge you by your handwriting.
If you have a beautiful hand, than folks will think you have a beautiful mind — they will probably be wrong — so think about it.
I wouldn’t bring this up but my father taught it to me when I was a little boy when he was working so hard on his penmanship. He took a course using the Spencerian Method. He wrote beautifully after taking the course. The method is still available and I just ordered a copy of the book, but not the whole course.
Dad was a rancher until he was in his early twenties. He had to learn the social graces.
What can we all do to improve our relations with others?
One way is to be helpful.
Another way is to be cheerful. Most folks don’t like a dour or unfriendly person.
Another way is to never gossip or speak ill of anyone.
When I was teaching engineering in Iowa years ago, I was invited to electronic company in Oregon to give a seminar. I had to buy something at the grocery store, I don’t remember what. But there was something strange about the cashier in the store, and the people going in and out. I thought, What is wrong with these people?
When I got out the parking lot, I remembered. They were different! They were friendly.
We should be good Boy Scouts and be friendly. We should not ignore people. People do not like to be ignored. Sometimes young people are ignored, and old people are ignored more frequently. People freeze to death and starved to death because they are ignored.
The Good Samaritan
That’s what happened in the good Samaritan story when a Jewish man was attacked by robbers left to die. The Jewish priest and the Levite were frightened that there were robbers in the area and there was a person who had been attacked. It didn’t matter that it was a fellow Jew who was under duress. They walked on the other side of the road and rapidly disappeared in the distance. Their fears overcame their duties.
Then a Samaritan, who had no contact with Jews, came along the road. He saw the Jewish man lying in the dirt, beaten and bleeding and robbed. He found the man’s wounds and took them to an inn where he would be safe. He paid the innkeeper, and as he left on his way, he told the innkeeper to take good care of the man and that if there were additional cost, he would pay him on his return.
All families have problems. That is a good reason for families, to solve problems. I was raised in a large family with very loving parents who never argued. So we did not have the turmoil in our home that some families have because of the continuous fighting between family members.
The home was where you should be able to find peace and love. If it is not there, either for parents or children, life can be miserable.
So what can you do this year to change yourself into a new person that will make your happy family stronger?
Don’t forget that children become what they see. Do things with your family that will bring out their talents. For example, I wanted to see if my children had interest in writing, heart, science, and so forth. So we have two doctors, a veterinarian, a registered nurse who is a professional artist, and an attorney.
Sometimes I think that my kids went to school for so long is because when they were growing up, I was in school and later I taught engineering for 8 years at Iowa State University.
Remember your children will be looking up to you. They will be looking for love and kindness and education. Raising your kids will be the most important thing that you ever do in your life.
The family is a wonderful place for continuous improvement.
Become a New Person in 2015
When you look at your face in the bathroom mirror will you be different at the end of 2015?
If you decide to make continual improvements during the year, you will be a different person at the end of the year, a better person.
Have a great 2015!
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