by Chip Thomas

When I ask people if they would like to do better (career-wise) this year than last, they say, "Absolutely, yes!" When I then ask what they plan to do to accomplish this they respond: "I'm going to work harder, have a better attitude and have more enthusiasm." These things are admirable and, of course, essential to being successful at anything.

However, in the final analysis, such pursuits do not always yield noticeable improvement. There simply cannot be significant improvement without practice, and/or education, and/or change.

Let's look at the response: "work harder." What exactly does that mean? With most, it translates into putting in a fifty-hour work week instead of forty, or moving to sixty hours instead of fifty. Unfortunately, these extra hours are just that - extra hours- simply meaning: additional "wasted" or "unproductive" time. We must learn to work smarter, not harder. You must discipline yourself to fill your day with useful activities.

Practice, practice, practice - nothing takes the place of it. The best sports teams in the world spend many more hours practicing than they do actually competing. Top golfers hit hundreds more balls off the practice tee than they do in a tournament. We must have a similar approach and mentality - rehearse doing a proper "meeting and greeting" - practice executing a thorough "walkaround" presentation. These activities will pay big dividends.

Education is essential for advancement in any career. Become a student of the game. Spend a few minutes each day reading product information. Take time each week to familiarize yourself with current factory programs - they change constantly. Attend personal and professional development seminars periodically. Do all of these things consistently and you will become a "pro," and everyone likes to deal with a "pro."

One definition of insanity: to keep doing things the same way you've been doing them, but think and assume you're going to get a different result. If you add two plus two together, the answer is four. If you add two plus two together next week, the answer is four. Guess what it's going to be next year? Four. The only way to change the answer to five is to change one of your twos to a three. When you change the input, you change the output - alter the equation, change the result. Get the picture? If you're not pleased with your current situation or results, change your system, change your day, change your approach. What do you have to lose?

Remember: Practice, educate yourself, and implement change - you will then automatically enter an arena of improvement and increased earnings, and that is certainly a wonderful place to be.