All Progress is Progress

Have you ever set a goal and immediately been overwhelmed with the enormity of it? Have you ever been assigned a task at work and were instantly overcome with the feeling of complete paralysis because you had no idea where to start? 

 

Are you a chronic procrastinator or have you convinced yourself you perform better under pressure? 

 

If any of that sounds like you then I have some advice for you. It is something that all successful people know and it is how they work their way past the challenges associated with achieving success. 

 

The advice is to remember that all progress is progress. Even little steps move you forward. Even small accomplishments move you closer to an ultimate goal. You do not need major progress at every turn. Slow steady progress often achieves success faster than the backward movement that can follow rapid progress. 

 

A few small steps forward are almost always better than two steps forward and one step back. Any movement closer to an objective or goal is progress. All progress is worthy of celebration, albeit the smaller the progress the smaller the celebration. 

 

Some of the very best advice I’ve ever received was that when you  don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. No matter how small that next right thing is you will end up closer to your goal. 

 

You’ll find it easier, notice I didn’t say easy, to consistently make progress if you have a coach or mentor to help you stay motivated. A good mentor can talk you down from the cliff of self-doubt that everyone finds themselves on from time to time. 

 

Sometimes small amounts of progress can be hard to see. Be sure to keep track of where you started. Keep track of where you were last month or last week so you can see your forward movement. Nothing will kill your future motivation faster than thinking you received nothing from your past efforts. 

 

Keep yourself fresh by trying something new once in a while. The most successful people will get rid of something that works if there is a chance to replace it with something that works even better. You never know if you can do something better until you try doing it differently. 

 

Whatever you do you must do something. You must keep moving…even if you’re on the right track you will eventually get run over if you just sit there. All progress is progress. Forward, sideways and sometimes even backwards progress is better than no progress at all. 

 

You don’t need to know how the final chapter of a book ends before you begin reading it. You also don’t need to know exactly how you will complete a task or achieve a goal before you start working towards it. 

 

Make progress each day and the end result will come into focus along the way. All those little bits of progress will lead you to one giant success once you realize that indeed, all progress is progress! 

Do the Right Thing

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is this: when you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. 

It might be a small thing, it might not get you far and it might seem like it doesn’t matter. But it does!

Doing the right thing, however small very often leads directly to doing the next right thing and a few “right things” in a row can add up to something very good, very very good.

Even when we can’t see the big picture, even when we don’t know exactly what to do, we can almost almost find some little “right thing” and that’s the thing to do. It’s called progress; sometimes we make progress in big steps and sometimes in small steps but this much is clear; successful people are almost always making some sort of progress.

If you truly don’t know what the next right thing is then ask. This is where having a mentor in your life can make a huge difference. Ask your mentor for their opinion on the next right thing. 

You need, yes NEED, a mentor who cares enough about you to be honest. Your mentor should have no ulterior motive for helping you. The best mentors help people because for them, it’s the next right thing to do.

If you don’t have a mentor then ask someone who you trust, someone you see as successful, someone who you see yourself becoming, to be your mentor today.

I know that doing the next right thing sounds very simplistic but all too often it is anything but easy. Doing the right thing can be very hard, especially when compared to doing the easy thing. 

The easy way seldom brings any real value into your life but the right thing almost always does. Doing the right thing is always better then doing nothing and it is way better than doing the wrong thing. 

Do the next right thing, do it for the right reasons and you’ll soon discover that you can never go wrong by doing right.

The Murderous Nature of The Status Quo

Are you a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of leader? Do you believe in “leaving well enough alone?” Have you ever looked at your organization, your team or your processes and said confidently “we’re good, no need to reinvent the wheel?”

Consider that last statement for a moment. Imagine if the wheel really had never been reinvented. History tells us that the first wheels were apparently made from stone. They were as round as they could make them but I’ve yet to see an image of a perfectly round wheel from the days of the first wheels.

Think about a brand new shiny car with GPS and bluetooth and all the comforts of home… with stone wheels. I’ll bet that would do a number on the gas mileage, not to mention how it could kill the drive though business at Starbucks. Can you imagine trying to drink a hot cup of coffee while riding around on “almost” round stone wheels.

Now aren’t we glad that somebody ignored the advice and actually did reinvent the wheel!

Nothing kills progress like the status quo. Leaders who are satisfied with the “as is” will never experience the accomplishment of achieving the “should be.” Authentic leaders are constantly looking for a better way. Their goal isn’t necessarily perfection; it’s simply to be better tomorrow than they are today. It has nothing to do with how good they are, even the best are always striving to be better.

Being better tomorrow than you are today will require change. Improvement and growth requires that someone or something change. The reason that some leaders get comfortable with the status quo is that change also comes with risk and some leaders will do anything to avoid risk.

The problem is that businesses that attempt to avoid all risks likely avoid continued success at the same time. Leaders of any type of organization who are too risk adverse lose the opportunity to achieve all that they could.

In their attempt to avoid risk and keep everything just as it is they almost guarantee that what they have they won’t have for long. If you disagree with that then just travel to Canada and talk with the well-meaning team at Blackberry. Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion, is the perfect case study of an organization hanging on to the “as is” at the expense of the “should be.”

The world today allows no person and no organization seeking continued success to sit still.  A business satisfied with the status quo most likely has stakeholders that aren’t satisfied at all.

As a leader it is imperative that you know that if you’re not moving up then you’re most assuredly moving down.

The status quo is a murderer; it kills progress while providing the illusion of comfort and success. Don’t however, attempt to hold the status quo accountable for the death of your success, the status quo means no harm, death is just it’s nature.

Leaders who consort with the status quo and hold it dear, well now, their accountability for the death of success is a whole different matter.