What Does, “I Want To Be Better” Mean?


Many of us strive to be better; be it as a spouse or partner, leader, student, athlete, writer, employee or otherwise. We might have our sights set on eating better; perhaps living better generally. The word, ‘better’ though, while one we might toss about with widespread agreement from those within earshot as a laudable goal, doesn’t necessarily assure a widespread shared understanding. What I mean is, your definition of, ‘better’ might not be the same as those who hear your words.

Now I’m an Oxford Dictionary fan when it comes to definitions, so in turning there I find this definition when used as an adjective:

Better: More appropriate, advantageous, or well advised. More desirable, satisfactory, or effective.

Okay, so how does this square with how you define the word, ‘better’? Now you may be wondering at the benefit of reading a post devoted to the term, ‘better’ and coming to understand or revisit what it means to be better. Your time may be well spent though as sometimes the wisest thing to do is look at the simplest of things.

You want to be better at your job let’s suppose. Maybe you even go so far as to announce at your team meeting that you’ve set this as your personal goal. If you’re bold enough or in a position of influence or leadership, you might even propose that the team strive to be better as a unit. You know, one of those, “As good as we are we can and must be better” kind of speeches. I’ve given these myself in the past. Where I failed however, was not so much in communicating that we must be better, but rather coming to a shared understanding of what ‘better’ meant.

Looking back at that definition above, here again are the words defining ‘better’:

  • more appropriate
  • more advantageous
  • more well advised
  • more desirable
  • more satisfactory
  • more effective

Alright, so pick what resonates or fits best with what  you’re after. If having a team that is more well advised is going to make the team and every member of it more effective and bring about more desirable results, maybe this is what you mean by using the term, ‘better’.

Using this as a starting place, the question then becomes how does the team become better advised? To be better advised works from a premise that some learning is required to stay abreast of what may be best practices. As we know, there are many examples of where people and companies worked hard to become leaders in their fields of expertise and then sat on their laurels, ceased to engage in continuous learning and over time, lost their place as front runners and industry leaders. Younger, hungrier people and organizations usurped them from their places because they explored, risked, embraced turbulence and entertained innovation.

What has this got to do specifically with you though? Well, on the simplest of terms, are you striving to be better? As an person in your organization or as a team member or representative of the company, are you aiming to perform at the same level of competence and give the same level of customer service, or do you see room for improving upon what you now deliver?

If you’re goal is improve and become better, I suppose you need to find in what way(s) or in what area(s) you see room for improvement. Note that it’s likely the very area(s) in which you find ways you could be better may also present challenges for you. In other words, you may know what you need to do to become better but it will require work; hard work perhaps, to get there. Hard work as you likely know, stops most people from even starting – especially if they don’t see immediate returns on the investment to become better.

It is for this very reason that a person contemplating a return to school knows that getting a degree would be highly beneficial and they’d be better able to compete for a job they want, but the work involved stops some before they start. “I don’t know, it’s three years…and I don’t know if I want to spend the time.”

To become better however, a person has to begin with an acknowledgement that better is possible. It may be that things are fair for the time being, but to be better involves the necessity of change. Some kind of new opportunity; an exposure to something new, be it an idea, technology, a philosophy or method of service delivery perhaps; but change in some way comes about.

So do you want to be better and if so, in what areas of your personal or professional life? Are you after a better job, a better income, a better lifestyle or becoming a better co-worker maybe? What you wish to become better at is entirely up to you.

The cost of stagnating and ceasing to become better could mean at its worst, the end of your job, a relationship, your marriage, your career or business. Many businesses fail because they failed to market themselves better and didn’t connect with the buyers in the marketplace.

If you’re an individual wanting to be better, assess your skills, experience and what you’ll need in the future vs. what you have now. Starting sooner than later is good advice.

How would you like to be better?

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