I was deep into a discussion with a friend recently on growth, getting better, learning styles and the like (read nerds) when he brought up the Tower of Babel, using the building of this structure as a metaphor. In this biblical story, the people sought to build a tower that would reach all the way to heaven in order to make a name for themselves. All speaking the same language, they came together to begin construction. God recognized that as one unified group, nothing was out of their reach. So God, attempting to stifle their arrogance, separated them and confused their language. Unable to find a way to communicate with each other, they were forced to abandon the tower, which was burned, and the bottom swallowed by the earth.
Although an apocryphal tale, it got me thinking about the importance of a common language in building unity. It also made me think about the lack of community that can result when such a commonality does not exist.
In their book Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan and John King look to language as a defining factor for what stage a tribe is in. Even in our own MFF “tribe,” language is extremely important to our culture. We have commonly understood phrases such as “nailing it,” “Ninja please.” And of course, let’s not forget “buhlee,”* which to the unknowing is nothing more than a whale sound at this point. But perhaps the most important phrase in our culture is “get better.” We have literally built a community around the idea of getting 1% better each day; around constantly growing, learning, and striving to improve. So let’s dissect this fundamental expression that we love so much.
What do we really mean when we say we are getting better?
I do understand that the answer to this question is undeniably individual. And after all, who are we to judge what version of getting better is best? Still, it’s an important topic for the individual and the community to know, and is certainly one worth examining further.
Who Do You Want to be?
Whether you are a trainer, a businessperson, or anything else, I think the concept of getting better ultimately comes down to the type of person you want to be. Some people have a fixed mindset and trust that what they currently believe is the best way of doing things. So they are inherently not as focused on getting better from learning new and different things. They would rather learn more about what they already know and deem useful. I think mine (and the MFF team’s) attitude comes from a calling to make a perceptible difference in someone’s life through the acquisition of new knowledge. My goal is to learn as many new things as possible, take all of that information combined with my own real life experience, and find the aggregate that seems like it will best do the job at hand. In fact, I view this learning as a responsibility toward getting better, rather than a side effect or a bonus.
So what does all this mean for Ninjas and like-minded people who choose the path to getting better? Why focus on this concept in the first place? Let’s think about that larger picture that I previously mentioned. Like the people of Babel, Ninjas have come together to achieve greatness, though our purpose usually includes a greater sense of altruism. We are given a finite amount of time on this earth, and it is our responsibility to do something with it. Buhlee*
Keep learning, keep growing.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Learn everything you can. It’s great to learn about something that will further you in your career, but it doesn’t have to be exclusively related to your job. Focus instead on being a well-rounded human being – learn from as many different sources as you can about all sorts of different things. Explore something you are actually interested in. Find others who share those interests!. Use your new knowledge to evolve and always be the absolute best version of yourself. Never stop learning and striving to get better!
Find someone who can keep up with your version of getting better.
For me personally, it’s hard to find someone who wants to learn as much as I do. That’s one of the reasons I feel so at home at MFF – these crazies always want to learn. The entire philosophy is based on a growth mindset interpretation of life. I don’t think you can have that insatiable desire to constantly improve and learn more and effect change without being pretty f*cking growth mindset-y. And it’s not about learning the most or knowing more than someone else – the end game is to genuinely improve. Thus we can help other people improve and get better as well.
Be it a friend, significant other or family member, find someone who has a similar view of what it means to learn and get better. It’s important to have a pal who is on the same page, and can therefore participate in discussions and drive you to keep moving forward. Better yet, find a whole community of these people and get better together. As my own friend so wisely put it, you have to find someone who can keep you honest and help you to learn consistently. There is thought that you become like the five people you spend the most time with. So surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to dream big dreams. People who aren’t afraid to learn, work, and do whatever it takes to accomplish those dream.—whose passion for improvement burns with the light of one thousand suns. Decide that it’s okay, and probably ideal, to not be the smartest person in the room.
Inspire others to get better.
This is where you take everything that you’ve learned and become a leader. Take the initiative to share your knowledge with those who are interested. Encourage others to make continuing their education a priority. Take your own desire to get better and inspire that passion in others. Create a tribe of Ninjas in your community.
In what capacity should you get better? Ninja please, it doesn’t matter! If you constantly strive to be your best self, which in turn inspires others to be their best selves, it will have a ripple effect that will extend farther than we can imagine. It is an epic undertaking to create an entire world of communities reaching to evolve and grow, recognizing that there are no walls or limits (TWEET THAT SHIT!) Only together can we create that kind of magic, inspiring one person at a time. So I encourage you to live your best life, learn everything you can, and keep getting better together.
*Buhlee – a primal, gutteral sound or battle cry, usually made loudly, holding the long “ee” sound for any give length of time, depending on mood. The sound is short for “believe,” and is usually made to confirm some truth that is heard nearby, or to declare a general sense of belief in ultimate glory. Often compared to the call of a large whale, the sound will draw others from the same tribe to respond with the same sound, often resulting in a deafening, cacophonous, yet somehow pleasing tone that serves to further the sense of tribal community.
var. “buhlems” “buhleedios” “ohbuhleeeeeee”