You seldom hear a professional athlete reply to an interviewer’s compliment without saying something like “Thanks, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Author and friend, Dan Reiland, wrote, “A good leader is able to tame his or her ego enough to keep on learning.” The dictionary says “improvement” is the “state of being improved; especially: enhanced value or excellence.” The opposite of improvement is stagnation or decline, and I don’t think you want to go there. So, here’s a suggest list of improvements.

1. Improve your technical skills. Learn to read faster. Upgrade your computer skills before you upgrade your computer. What are the computing shortcuts? Improve your awareness of the Internet as it relates to your profession. What are the time-saving apps? What are the one-stop resource sites?

2. Improve your financial plan. When is the last time you reviewed your estate? Is your will current? What are your short- and long-range financial goals? If you’re not sure, it’s time for an appointment with a financial planner and a lawyer. Imbalanced personal finances often result in an imbalanced professional life.

3. Improve your health. Do you have a daily exercise regimen? If not, start one. Start slow and build—but start. A half-hour walk or a ten-minute rest each day will do wonders for your mind and body. Learn to eat smarter. Check your portions. Train your sweet tooth to stay in shape for an occasional indulgence, but let it know that some foods are temporarily off limits. Choose some green over gravy or some fruits over frappes.

4. Improve your relationships. You’ll get along better with your colleagues AFTER you learn to get along better with your spouse, children, extended family, or friend circle. If fact, why not treat your personal relationships with the same intentional enthusiasm and respect as you treat your professional staff?

5. Improve your networking base. Do you have cobwebs on your contact list? It may be time for a review or an update. Who have you overlooked that needs a new look? Why not set a goal of making at least one new professional contact each month? And don’t forget, the care and keeping of your contacts will strengthen your network.

6. Improve your spiritual strength. Have you considered your heart condition? No, I’m not talking about the pump that keeps the blood flowing; I’m talking about the soul that keeps your spirit warmed and alert. Give yourself a daily time out. Pray every day. Read an inspirational book instead of a professional manual. Check and upgrade your value system.

7. Improve your leadership. What are the current leadership trends? Have you updated your leader methods? You can’t motivate a 21st century workforce with 20th century methods. Register for a leadership conference. Read leadership books. Your investment in leadership will pay off in a happier “followship.”

Somerset Maugham said, “If you refuse to accept anything but the very best, you will very often get it.” Do you strive to be a five-star leader? Achieving it means you’ve added a star for every improvement.

–Stan Toler