My friend, Lon, sent me an email today that made me consider the value and under-appreciation of incremental improvement.
"The future of America is not in the hands of GM, the government, or the military. It is in the hands of our innovative entrepreneurs. Most of them do "it" just a little bit different than what is out there now. They are not the Apple's of the world. They are those that look for incremental improvement. Those incremental improvements have built America and will save it now from itself. I'm thinking ... for the first time in my life, I am developing the resolve to make it happen."
Consider how often people seek to be the next big thing rather than the next better thing. We give up on good in our quest for perfect, personally and professionally. We look for people to save us, to make things easier for us, to be our inspiration. It is time for all of us to realize that our greatest hope for improvements lie in slow, steady change for the better and the best source of that change stares at us every morning in the mirror.
Think about how much we could do if we recognized and nurtured the belief that we were empowered to improve every part of our lives, even if that improvement is small. Children don't know the phrase "that's just the way it is." This dreaded idea is something that is drilled into us by other adults. Instead, children look at suboptimal situations and say, "why don't we do this instead?". They are natural-born innovators and change-makers. They always seek constant improvement.
Children are not perfectionists. That perfectionist streak is something we learn as adults. Children seek to make things better, whether by a little or a lot. They play and explore and iterate. They're flexible and adaptable. They believe in the concepts of better and original and good effort. They're kind to themselves and to others. Their first thoughts upon encountering a difficult situation are "why?" and then "why not?"
Lon is getting back to these beliefs, and we all need to follow his lead. Thinking like children may be the very thing that saves us from ourselves.