There are many ways to improve yourself but in order for improvements to be made it will always be necessary to take stock of your current situation. For some people the concept will be a process of continually reading other people's advice then acting on what has been read. For others it will be more of a question of identifying a particular area of need.

Self improvement is an ongoing process which will often progress in fits and starts. There are times during your life when you just don't have the time to improve yourself. Sometimes, you are just too busy staying afloat and paying your bills to entertain improvement.

The way school is handled will probably affect the way you see yourself for many years. It can also be argued that role models throughout your school years will affect your ideas of where improvement is needed. If your teachers have been excellent role models you might find yourself wishing to improve in different ways. If the games teacher has been a wonderful rugby player, for example, it could be in a sporting context that you feel the desire to improve. If the teacher has lit your academic fire you might turn to books. If your teacher has had a particularly nice way with people then this might be the area to improve.

Should school have been an area where no influences have been felt then it could be that your self improvement might well evolve from your pastimes or hobbies. In my own case I had no real influences from the teaching at school. The majority of my memories legislate against feelings of wanting to be like my teachers. Naturally, I would like to speak French fluently like Froggy Furlong but I have no idea what he was like as a man. I would like to have been as good a rugby player as Ken Carr but I am not 6' 6'' and built like an outside loo. My first thoughts of self-improvement did not come from school.

At the age of 16 I first went to a Judo class. My first sensei was Eric Crebbin and he was a fantastic first role model for me. He was always first to the class with his white Judo suit gleaming on the mat. He was incredibly flexible and probably aged around 40. He taught both Judo and a code derived through the sport which showed me how to start behaving in life. He was my first catalyst for self-improvement.

Eric could throw people around the Judo mat and then teach others to do the same. He didn't hurt anyone deliberately but could strangle us and put an armlock on us. This was a little traumatic at first and then slowly he began to teach me how to unlock the power in my own body and use technique to overcome brute force. He was an extremely polite man and this is a quality that seems to permeate through most of my Judo teachers. As I got better I had to work to improve my techniques, learn the Japanese terminology and earn my different coloured belts through the ranking system. Eventually, around the blue belt stage Eric could no longer throw me round at will and he told me to move to better or different teachers. I didn't really understand that my own improvement had taken me away from the first coach and first person I totally respected. Eric told me which coaches I should go to learn from and I moved to clubs where I would find a different level of coaching. I think Eric had encouraged my first desire to improve myself.

At the time I was being taught how to improve myself in the physical sense I also made a decision to go to a night school and join a class in Salesmanship. This was around 1963, and, although terms like Marketing did exist we had this profession called Salesman developing. I cannot remember the name of the man who ran the course but he was a member of the United Kingdom Commercial Travellers Association. He was always well prepared and it is the content of his course that I still remember today and the book of notes is something I have kept all my life. This was a course about being a professional salesman but it was also subtly about constant self-improvement.

It is very easy to forget the old ways but often they still stand the test of time. In this particular time frame there were three major parts of the selling profession in the UK constantly harangued. Always it seemed to be suggested that if you couldn't do anything else in life you could always become a salesman. In particular Insurance Salesmen, Double Glazing Sales Personnel and Second-Hand Cars were the butt of music hall jokes.

All this is errant nonsense as people patently need insurance. They often need the expertise of an honest, competent Double Glazed addition to the property and everyone needs to buy a vehicle they can afford and which won't let them down.

It was through this Salesmanship Certificate course that I wanted to improve myself and become a good professional salesman. I wanted to represent a good company and sell an honest product at an honest price. To this day I never want to rob anyone in any kind of sales transaction. I feel these were the cornerstones of my struggle to improve the early part of my life. As both have stayed with me even to this day I would look at the early influences in a person's life as to what motivates a feeling towards self-improvement.

In today's world where many young people do not have substantive role models I feel they are likely to slip later in life. Many popstars are hard-working and honest but they can only really inspire those going into pop. They often have dodgy private lives. Many footballers and other sports stars are honest and hard-working but those who have private lives spilling into the public domain don't inspire a good base for others to improve themselves.

In Britain, there has been a constant diet of people being let down by politicians, bankers and others from all walks of life who have not had the self motivation to improve anything other than their own greed and finances. I would, therefore, recommend anyone to look at the Martial Arts and Judo to be inspired by a structure where everyone can improve.

In the case of Selling then I argue that nothing is worth a cent until it is sold. To sell ethically and honstly is something in which it is always possible to improve.

This is a wide ranging topic and I know I have only scraped the surface. I hope you can understand where my inspiration has come from as it has led to a constant ambition to improve myself in virtually every area of my life. I might not be practising Judo these days but I include most of the Judo principles in my life and thoroughly recommend it to any young person. By having a ranking in belts it is always possible to improve yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Vince went on to become a Dan Grade Judo Coach in the British Judo Association, The British Judo Council and the Amateur Judo Association. He taught Judo in many different situations ranging from schools and colleges to Local Authorities and private clubs.

Vince worked in sales and selling for many years and eventually became the Northern Divisional Field Sales Manager and Sales Trainer for Jenks Brokerage in the United Kingdom. He later became an academic and worked in Further Education as a Youth Training Development tutor.