"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." ~ Maya Angelou
I remember the morning so clearly. I was brewing my husband and me coffee while he was making breakfast, and I asked him about a business thing he was planning. He replied that he wasn't doing it anymore, which really surprised me.
"But why?" I asked. "You've been talking about this for a while."
He replied, "New information."
With his experience and now new knowledge, he realized that this endeavor was not going to help his business grow and in fact, it was going to be more of a distraction than anything. He knew better.
This knowing-better-approach applies to anything; training, diet, parenting, relationships. The more you know or experience something, the better you do. But here is the caveat (and something that should be added to this quote if I say so myself)... you CAN do better. Most people don't take the information they are given or learned and actually apply it. If they do, they don't give it enough time actually to let it work.
I have read many parenting books in the past eight years and only picked the ones that best suited our particular stage, needs, or came highly recommended by parents whose style I admired. I would read the book, understand the philosophy, and apply the tactics to see what happens. In a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on what it was that I was trying to accomplish (like sleep training), I would assess the progress. Was it working? What information was I missing? Was I doing any better? Was the situation improving?
If no, then I would find another approach and seek out 'new information' to help remedy the situation. If yes, then I would dive deeper into what was working and continue using those strategies. You see, there is a solution for everything and where we often fail in our businesses, parenting and relationships are in committing to taking daily action.
Professional athletes tweak little things every day. Whether that be their mindset, angle of their arm as they are pitching, the way their fingers curve as they are swimming, the depth of their squat as they are lifting, or the time of day they drink their protein shakes, athletes are always making little changes to become more efficient and better athletes.
When they know better, they perform better.
Business owners also make decisions that go against original insight because they know better. The most intuitive and knowledgeable entrepreneurs in history were always educating themselves; reading books, attending events, getting mentors and advisors, asking endless questions about their industry order to collect, decipher and analyze the information.
When they know better, their businesses perform better.
Parents who are confident about their approach (there aren't enough of us) have gotten to that point because of practice, experience, and education. They join Facebook groups, read books, subscribe to podcasts, create a circle of parenting friends, and work with coaches (sleep therapists, etc.) to figure it out for themselves. Since the hospitals don't provide 'the parenting manual' it is up to us to figure it out, and at first, it doesn't make sense.
When parents know better, their family thrives better.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or at 80. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” — Henry Ford
Learning for the sake of learning is still good practice even if you're not in school. It expands the mind, keeps you sharp, and makes you an overall better person. You make better decisions, thus improving your total life satisfaction and lowering stress. So how can you, as a busy mom, entrepreneur, and partner, keep up with daily education?
Here are a few tips on how to make learning a daily habit:
1. Determine what you really want to know
Create quarterly themes and learning habits around those themes. Education is not just about reading but includes watching videos, attending events, and even having intimate conversations with people in your network.
2. Set reading goals
Like, read 10-pages a day.
Warren Buffet reads upwards of 500 pages a day, Mark Zuckerberg reads a book every two weeks, and Bill Gates reads 50 books per year.
Determine your capacity and velocity and put it in your education goals. Include in that planning a time to listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, and 1-1 conversations with experts in the space.
3. Use an anchor
An anchor is a trigger that reminds you about something you should be doing. Like the 5 Minute Journal every morning to jot down what you're grateful for. With that anchor, you can then follow through on your goals.
4. Don't just read, listen
Subscribe to relevant podcasts and make it a habit to listen to them on your drive or workout. I have a rule that I cannot listen to music in my car unless it's the weekend, so I always tune into some great podcasts like the RISE podcast, Oprah's Supersoul Conversations, Rachel Luna's REAL TALK, and the Goodlife Project.
5. Schedule monthly meetups
Either use your current network or create a new one with people who have experience in the space you are trying to learn more (your themes.) From that list, invite people to a monthly lunch or dinner. A small gathering of 5-6 people is ideal.
6. Subscribe to (only) two great blogs
Subscribe to a couple of great blogs (unsubscribe to everything else). Pick two blogs that correspond with your theme and subscribe to them. Dedicate time after your morning routine to skim or read their content.
7. Attend events
Attend at least two relevant conferences or events every year. These can be local or international, it doesn't matter so long as you are getting out there and meeting new people. If you stay in your current space, with your existing friends and network and don't ever leave, you won't grow. Growth comes from immersing yourself into new areas and meeting new faces.
8. Sign up for something new
Trying something new has scientific benefits to your mind + body more than just learning the task itself. I just started drum lessons because I want to be able to drum some Steve Miller Band songs. Plus, learning an instrument is proven to change your brain structure and function for the better.
9. Read exciting books to your kids
Read books to your kids about subjects you don't know, this way you can learn as a family.
Most recently, my kids and I have started reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. Not that I am religious, but my boys believe in God, and so, we are exploring that meaning. I am also curious.
10 . Always be curious
Ask questions, wonder, wander and be a student of life. It's incredible how interconnected things are, and if you are always curious, you can see how all fo us, and everything are all part of the same source.
Most importantly, make learning a part of your routine. From the moment you wake up until the time you go to bed, educate yourself because when you know better, you do better.