"The Process Begets Progress"
Progress is a forever journey. Every day, every moment, we are changing. How we spend that time determines whether the change is progress or decay. We want progress.
This week we’ll look at some of the steps that ensure the progress we want is ours.
When the innovators of a given time leave their mark, create the new technology and advance us forward, it all begins with a vision.
Perhaps one of the unifying qualities of all humans is the ability to dream, to ask the “why not?” to question the way things could be better. If that’s true, if we do have the vision inside us then what separates us from the Elon Musk’s and Nikola Tesla’s of the world? I would suggest it is their belief in their vision. It is their willingness to work on making that vision real and their overcoming any fear of failure that may keep our visions forever in our minds.
Even if you’re not in a place where you think you can change the world, remember you are the only one in position to change your world. So even if you aren’t working on the next rocket to Mars, you are working on something. Some kind of growth in your personal and professional life. That growth is progress and that progress requires the vision.
If you can’t visualize the outcome, how will you ever know what the outcome looks like when you get there? How can you measure success without a vision of what that success looks like for you?
The vision won’t be exact. The reality won’t ever be identical to what you created. But it does provide the framework, the foundation, upon which we can move forward in our pursuit of the championship life.
1. TCB: Taking Care of Business
One of my personal favorite rock songs. Taking care of business… everday… and working overtime.
Your life is yours. You share it with the people who come in and prove to care about you and that you in turn care about. If you’re lucky, you have love and compassion and support around you. But it’s still your life to live. Your choices to make. Your progress to work on.
And as you work on that progress, new and challenging obligations present themselves. To get to that destination you have envisioned it requires YOU to step up and handle it. You can and should lean on those around you for help but ultimately, the responsibility of seeing your progress through is yours alone.
So handle it!
2. Graduation Day: Never
When we start on our championship journey, the world around us is in a certain state. It might be something as grand as a political system or structure (for example envisioning your future in the Soviet Union was likely a lot different than those same people envisioning their future after that nation fell) or it might be something as benign as the weather changing. In any case, we can’t predict the state of the world we will live in as our journey unfolds.
The way we still arrive at our destination, the way will still become champions, is by learning. We take in new information. We process the new and changing environment. We learn what is now asked of us and we apply whatever skills we have to progress through those new challenges.
If we set out with the mindset that we know enough and close ourselves off from the possibility of new and better information, we severely limit the heights to which we can achieve and we even diminish the very likelihood that we will succeed at all.
Grab a book. Grab your Google. Read. Immerse. Learn. Progress. The championship way.
3. The Winning Way
The journey of the championship life is long, at times difficult but ultimately rewarding. Are we all guaranteed to get everything we envisioned and set out to get? No. But that shouldn’t be the expectation nor the standard to which we hold our lives and then conclude if we missed out on X, Y, and Z it wasn’t worth it at all.
Instead what we must do is focus on the things we did achieve along the way. The wins we did enjoy as part of the journey. Because when we win and recognize when we win we enjoy it. We pick up momentum and our belief starts to take over.
In basketball, they say a shooter just needs to see that first shot go in. Mentally just that small win sets the tone for the rest of the game. In life, our progress, it’s the same thing. When our brain recognizes achievement it gets energized. It wants more. It goes after it.
For some us that win might be a key executive meeting with us. For others it might simply be getting out of bed that day. No matter how big or small it may seem, a win can carry us through and that is progress.
4. One Day or Day One?
As you look around the business and personal growth landscape, there are “hacks” all over the place. Growth hacks, productivity hacks, relationship hacks, travel hacks. It’s kind of silly if you think about it too deeply. The purpose these hacks serve, however, is to add convenience or save us time. And that’s a good thing ultimately.
One way to discover new and effective “hacks” is to understand the mechanisms of the human brain. While we all have our own individual thought process, some brain activities are shared. One such thing is the effectiveness of accountability on us reaching a goal.
When we feel that we are accountable to getting something done, we want to avoid letting someone (including ourselves) down. For whatever reason, we have been given the blessing of expectations and we must live up to and meet those expectations.
One small but effective way to make ourselves accountable is to actually write (or type) down the things we want to do by a specific deadline. The deadline is the key. Without any clear time frame within which we want to accomplish something, what is the motivation to prioritize it and actually get it done?
We must see, in real life, the expected result and the expected day of completion. That gives us the urgency and energy to get going. So, get going!
5. Be Consistent
The great Yogi Berra once said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t break it.” I think that’s what he said. Really, I have no idea if that’s what he said. He could have though. Because it makes all the sense in the world.
As we get going on our championship journey, we may start to see some familiar surroundings, some familiar faces and then familiar results. As people – some more than others – there is often a need to change things up. We love variety, right? It’s the spice of life after all. However, that’s not necessarily the best thing for us to sustain the success we have earned or to continue the path we have blazed.
That’s not to say change and variety aren’t worthy of our time. It is to remind you that depending on the timing of the change it may take you back to step one. It may create an entirely new and more difficult journey. It may take you further away from your vision. So I’m simply telling you to keep that in mind.
But also keep in mind, that even if your vision changes. A banker from Goldman Sachs wants to go live with the Pandas in China, for example. The same rules of making that vision a reality apply. See, the steps that bring us progress are the same whether that progress is an increase in income or an increase in spirit. And they all ultimately require that we be consistent.
Going back to our friend Yogi and the sport he played, baseball. A pitcher doesn’t practice throwing 10 pitches right handed, 10 pitches left handed, 10 pitches with a cartwheel and then 10 pitches backwards. He throws with the same motion and wind up every time. The consistency of that allows him to perfect his release and location and find success: striking out batters.
Find what works. Then do it again.
Thank you for following along all week as we dove deep inside the factors that help us achieve the progress that we want to see in our lives and the lives of the people who rely on us.
“Life is struggle and struggle is life. Misery is optional.”
"What I believe, will be!
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