Human beings have a natural desire to try to get better. Whether it’s learning how to walk or ride a bike, learning how to read or write in school, or improving our relationships by developing our listening or conflict resolution skills, people are wired to grow and develop. In our Top 20 work, we call this Kaizen…the desire for continual improvement.

We can, however, develop a mindset that blocks our desire to get better. Beware of judgment.

I love coaching basketball. I sometimes think it’s the only thing I really know. When teaching a kid how to shoot effectively, I show them the importance of the middle finger of their shooting hand. If they can imagine that finger dipping in the basket when they shoot, the ball will almost always go straight to the hoop. So I instruct them that whenever they miss a shoot and the ball has gone to the left or right of the basket, they are to say to themselves, “Finger in the basket.” This allows them to self-correct and sets them up for shooting the next shot effectively.

Sometimes, however, after missing 4-5 shots in a row, their judgment mindset begins to take over: “I’m bad at this. This isn’t working. My shot is terrible. I’ll never get this.” When they judge and don’t correct, improvement doesn’t happen.

If I am going to help them shoot better, I need to help them change their inner voice or script by repeating to them, “Don’t self-judge…self-correct.” When I ask them how they self-correct, they repeat back to me, “By saying to myself ‘finger in the basket.’” It’s amazing how when this takes root in their mind, the ball more consistently goes out of their hand straight to the basket.

My granddaughters, Caroline and Emily, have become very good shooters by first learning how to change their minds. Because they have developed the habit of self-correcting, their shots won’t always go in, but will almost always go straight. This has made a huge difference in their confidence and shooting percentage.

Click here to check out Caroline’s finger in the basket technique that developed when she stopped judging and self-corrected.

If we are serious about human development and want to create a culture of learning, we need to shift from self-judging to self-correcting. Identify those areas in your life or your students’ lives where growth or improvement are sabotaged by a mindset of judgment. Change the script to self-correcting and enjoy the satisfaction and confidence that comes from getting better.

Best wishes from my Top 20 coaches…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…who remind me, ‘Don’t self-judge, self-correct.’

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training