As leaders, we are all constantly challenged to learn, grow, adapt, change, encourage, and lead in whatever situation life throws our way. It is very hard to know if we are on the right track by feelings alone. Someone once said, “You can tell when you are on the road to success because the road is uphill the entire way.” That very statement continues to serve me well in my ongoing efforts to Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust. It helps my focus, as I strive to keep myself, and my actions, flowing in a consistent, steady direction. With the proper “checks and balances” in place, we are like a flowing river, staying between the walls, as we flow down the stream toward our purpose. Without the proper PDCA cycle, we may feel frustrated, and our “ river of purpose” may turn into the “rapids of chaos”! It is imperative for any leader, whether established, or beginning, to always do a “check up from the neck up” to insure their efforts are being maximized to their greatest potential.
We all have heard the old saying, “practice makes perfect.” People, who follow proper PDCA, believe in the saying “perfect practice makes perfect.” Just because you are practicing does not mean you will perfect your skill. It just means that whatever you are practicing will become permanent. Laurie Woodward has said from stage many times that, “the lesson will continue until the lesson is learned.” Learning lessons from those negative circumstances that occur in our lives keep them from happening again.
Incorporating the proper PDCA cycle into ones daily regime is crucial to taking charge of one’s life. However, just because you practice proper PDCA habits, does not exclude you from life’s curve balls. Because great leaders have made a habit of following the PDCA routine, they avoid having their feelings hurt, and instead, find solutions to problems. As Leadership Guru Orrin Woodward says, we cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. We can either pick the side of our rights and privileges, or we can pick the side of our responsibilities and obligations. Either way, the choice of being a victim or a victor is completely up to us! People that use the PDCA cycle always choose to be on the side of the victor. How do you want your life to be? Always the victim, with no control over outcomes, or, do you choose to be the victor, in control, responsible for the outcomes?
So, how do you develop and establish effective PDCA habits? First, you have to provide an answer to one very important question: What is your purpose in life? Once you answer that honestly, you can move forward. As the famous saying goes, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” If you really want to accomplish the purpose for your life, you must realize change and growth will be necessary. Max DePree, leadership expert, said, “You can’t become what you need to be by remaining what you are.” Many think change is an insult to their individualism, instead of a catalyst to their potential. If you want to accomplish something you have never accomplished before, you are going to have to do and learn things you have never done or learned before. It really is that simple, but admittedly not that easy. It requires constant evaluation!