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! 

A Settled Life

It is a sad reality that more people have “settled” for the life they have than have chosen the life they want. 

 

People “settle” for less than they could have in many areas of their life. They settle on a unrewarding and unchallenging job. They settle on being paid less than they deserve for doing that job they don’t love. They settle on friends that hold them back. Sometimes they even settle on a life partner that doesn’t truly care about them. 

 

I have heard all the reasons, or actually excuses, for why that happens. Once in a great while I’ve even used those excuses myself. Fortunately I’ve resisted using those excuses far more often than I’ve taken the easy way and settled. 

 

Here’s the difference between settling and busting through the easy way to earn what you actually deserve… the uncertainty and discomfort of breaking through eventually ends, the never ending tinge of sadness that comes with knowing that you’ve settled doesn’t. It’s like you’re haunted by the ghost known as “what if.” 

 

I’m all for a compromise now and then but using your hopes and dreams to build that compromise is like building your home in quicksand. Sooner or later you’ll come to regret that kind of compromise and it’s far more likely to be sooner.

 

Refusing to settle is hard work. That’s why I so often recommend having a coach or a mentor who cares enough to hold you accountable for achieving your goals. Good mentors will not allow you to settle. 

 

You must have goals before you can be accountable to achieve them. The most successful people take the goal setting process very seriously. They set goals that mesh with their core values then they develop an actionable plan to achieve them. Highly successful people rarely settle for less than they believe they deserve. 

 

Goalless people won’t like this but it’s the lack of clear goals that makes it so easy to settle. Since they have no particular destination in mind they “rest” at the first convenient place that comes along. Before they even realize it, they have settled. 

 

The good news is they don’t have to stay settled. 

 

If you find yourself living a settled life then get a coach or a mentor. Find someone who cares enough about you to disrupt your settled life. Allow them to make you a little more uncomfortable than you think you can stand. 


You may hate it at first but that will pass. You’ll eventually be grateful that your motivation to achieve greater success was dislodged from under your settled life. 

Do This….When You Don’t Know What to Do

Most people, maybe all people, certainly me, experience times in their life where they don’t know what to do. That doesn’t make them weak people. That doesn’t make them dumb people. It also doesn’t make them less likely to succeed…. unless they do nothing because they don’t know what to do. 

 

Hopefully you have someone in your life that you can bounce ideas and problems off of. It could be a coach or a mentor. Possibly a close friend or family member. The importance of having someone in your life that you trust enough to share anything with cannot be overstated. If you don’t have that person or even better, people, then you need to find one. 

 

But sometimes, even with help, your next move can be hard to determine. You’re not sure what to do next. 

 

Because that’s happened to me from time to time I’ve received lots of advice on the subject. One time when I had to choose between two options and deciding seemed hopeless, one of my mentors told me to flip a coin. I said that the decision was too important for something as frivolous as flipping a coin. 

 

He told me that it wasn’t at all frivolous because when that coin was in the air I’d know exactly which way I wanted it to land. I still wanted to dismiss his suggestion but somehow I knew he was right…and he was. So I flipped the coin and said if it was heads I’d do this and if it was tails I’d do that. It came up tails and I didn’t want that so I decided that it was such a big decision I should do two-outta-three. It was then that I knew exactly which way I wanted to go. 

 

As clever as that was I still find it a little ridiculous to make a major life decision on a coin flip. So I sometimes use advice from Benjamin Franklin. 

 

When the very wise Ben Franklin was asked for advice he would tell people he couldn’t decide for them but he did share his own decision making “tool.” He advised people to take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side of the paper he said to list the reasons for doing something and on the other side of the paper list the reasons for not doing it. 

 

Then he said, and this is the key advice, he said to NOT count the things on either side, he said to weigh them instead. Seeing the reasons on paper made them more concrete and real. You could have 12 reasons on the “do not” side verses 2 on the “do” side but if the 2 outweighed, or mattered more, than the 12, you knew your decision was to “do.” 

 

When I share how to use Ben’s tool today I let people know it’s okay to take several days to list your reasons on that paper. As you ruminate over a decision keep that paper nearby and track your reasons for and against, you’ll have your answer in relatively short order.

 

But sometimes even when using that tool the “weight” of the decision is equal and you just won’t know what to do. 

 

So do this.

 

Do the next right thing. You may not know completely what to do or what not to do but somewhere in you the knowledge of the next right thing to do exists. Doing the next right thing may not get you to where you need to be but it will get you closer. 

 

I can tell you from personal experience that doing the next right thing is a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve often convinced myself that I didn’t know the next right thing to do because I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do the easier thing. 

 

Right leads to success. Easy leads to…well it doesn’t lead to success, at least not real, lasting success. 


The knowledge of the next right thing to do lives inside of you. The only question is do you have the courage that is often required to do it. 

Are You Committed or Compliant?

The difference between a committed person and a compliant person is like the difference between night and day. It’s huge!

 

A committed person carries an attitude that helps them drive towards their goals. A committed individual acts with purpose for a purpose. Not only do they have goals they also have a plan to achieve them. Their commitment to themselves, the people they care about and to their organization or business shows in everything they do. 

 

Committed people look different. They act different. They speak differently than most people and they tend to brighten every room they enter. 

 

Compliant people are easy to spot too. They are doing what they are supposed to do and not much more. They live in the zone of “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”. They may think they have goals but often those goals only deal with “getting through the day” or “doing what I have to do to keep the boss happy.” 

 

You know how when you’re at the grocery store and there are two check out lines to chose from. You pick one and after a few minutes you realize you picked wrong. The other line is flying and your line is barely moving. The other line likely has a committed cashier and your cashier is the compliant one. They are doing the same job, they are just doing it with very different attitudes. 

 

Think about how unhappy you are when you’re dealing with a compliant person. Then think about which cashier most closely resembles you and your attitude. 

 

Your level of commitment is directly related to your attitude. Your attitude cannot be left to chance, it must be made by choice. Failing to consciously choose a positive attitude results in the unconscious choice of a negative one. 

 

There are no neutral attitudes. If your attitude isn’t positive then it is negative. There is too much negativity around everyone to assume that positivity just happens. It does not, you MUST choose it and then work to keep it. 

 

Being that slow cashier is the likely result of failing to chose. The best news is that no one, no circumstance, no traffic, no weather report, no nothing nothing nothing, can rob you of that choice. 


So… what are you choosing today?

Can I See Your Priorities?

I already don’t like this post and I’m the one writing it. I can only imagine how many of you will feel about it. It’s a tough post to write because a lot of the people reading it will not feel better about themselves, at least not right away.

 

If just one person takes this message to heart then it will be a worthwhile post, no matter how many people might be offended. I know it will offend people because the first time it was shared with me I was offended too. But I have a lot more of everything today because I eventually changed my behavior because of it.

 

Around 25 years ago I was sitting in the audience at a Dale Carnegie Traning national convention. We were listening to a Dale Carnegie sales representative talk about the challenges of succeeding in the training business. As with almost all Dale Carnegie presenters his talk was awesome. What truly made his presentation unique however was the fact that he was playing the harp throughout his entire presentation. 

 

It was like he had two different brains working at once. His message was that achieving success, long-term true success, required that we do more than we thought possible. 

 

It was impressive to say the least. I made a comment to the person sitting next to me that I’d “give anything” to be able to play a musical instrument. 

 

He said that wasn’t true. Here’s the thing about working for a self-improvement organization like Dale Carnegie. The teaching never stops. Everything is a lesson. You are held accountable for everything you say and everything you do. It can be a challenging place to work but it is life changing. For the vast majority of the people lucky enough to experience it the change is very positive.

 

So the person sitting next to me said it wasn’t true and the lesson was on. When I said it absolutely was true he said “well then, what instrument do you play?” I said again that while I didn’t play any instrument I wished I did. 

 

It was then that I was informed I was mistaken. I was mistaken because if I really wanted to play an instrument then I’d be able to play an instrument. He went on to say that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to play an instrument, it was that I wanted to do other things more. He said I didn’t play an instrument because while I might like the thought of it, actually playing an instrument wasn’t a priority for me. 

 

He said lots of people say what they want but when you watch them they show their true priorities. 

 

I felt a little like I had been called a liar but eventually what he said sunk in. I started to measure the things I said I wanted against what actions I took to have them. It turned out I was like most people…. I said a lot and did very little. 

 

I decided that had to change. The change was instigated by the awareness that wanting something and doing what it takes to have it are two very very different things.

 

The odds are pretty high that you have some of that “say a lot do very little” stuff within you too. So here’s a suggestion. 

 

Make a list of your priorities, the “things” you want in every area of your life. Your personal life, your professional life, your financial life, etc. 

 

Then track how you spend your time, every minute of your time, each day for a week. You can Google “Time log” to find a tool that will help you with your tracking. BE HONEST! 

 

You will be somewhere between mad, disappointed, shocked, or horrified at how little of your time is spent in pursuit of your “priorities.” When I realized all those years ago where my time was going I was surprised to say the least. You might be too.

 

But awareness is a wonderful thing. You may decide that what you thought were your priorities really aren’t. You may decide that they are. In that case then you’ll also know that something must change. 


I still think that playing an instrument would be nice. I also know that I won’t give anything to be able to play one. In fact as it turns out, I was unwilling to give anything at all. 

Are You Too?

The excuses I hear most often when someone can’t or won’t do something usually have the word “too” in them somewhere. As in, “I’m too busy.” Or “I’m too old to learn.” Or “I’m too important to do that job.”

 

Here’s what the most successful people would tell you…. no one is “too” for anything. 

 

I understand that sometimes we don’t want to do something. I also understand that sometimes we don’t have a good reason for not wanting to do it. I get that’s why we make excuses. 

 

But geez, if you’re not going to put any effort into doing the thing you don’t want to do at least put some effort into a better excuse. 

 

I remember the story about George Steinbrenner the long-time owner of the New York Yankees who passed away in 2010. A group was visiting Yankee Stadium and for whatever reason no one was available to show them around. Steinbrenner offered to do it himself. 

 

While attempting to lead the group across the field they were stopped by security. Mr Steinbrenner was informed he didn’t have the proper credentials to cross the field. The security guard directed him to take the group back up the long stairs and walk the long way around the stadium. 

 

The guard didn’t recognize the owner of the team. Rather than pull the “don’t you know who I am” card Steinbrenner dutifully lead his group all the way back up and around the stadium. He wasn’t too important to give a tour and he wasn’t so important that he felt the need to embarrass the security guard who was merely doing his job. 

 

George Steinbrenner wasn’t too important to do any job.

 

I recall years ago meeting a man who would become a good friend and mentor. He was already arguably the very best salesperson who ever lived. He had sold billions, yes billions, in life insurance yet I met him in a sales training program. He was well over 60 years of age at the time. I expressed a little surprise that someone of his “experience” would be in a sales course. He said, “well, intelligence begins with the knowledge that you’re never too old to learn.” 

 

He was in a sales training program to learn, one that I was going to help teach, yet that single sentence taught me more than I could ever teach him.

 

As for those who feel they are “too busy” I have very little sympathy for you. No one has more time than you! Everyone has 1440 minutes a day. The people who manage to get everything important done in that amount of time have simply stopped long enough to learn how to prioritize. 

 

They know what’s important and they know that most things aren’t important. They are never “too” to accomplish what they need to do to succeed. 

 

The most successful people don’t make excuses, they make things happen. They are never too busy, too tired, too old, or too important to do the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. 


So…are you too?


Don’t Confuse Excellence With Perfection

I’m a perfectionist who consistently does things in an imperfect manner. I’m a person who hates settling for good enough yet I frequently accept something that is as good as I can get. 

 

I make those compromises in the interest of getting things done. 

 

There are many people who would criticize me for making those compromises. But I believe a job, project or assignment completed, even if a little less than perfect, is better than one never completed. 

 

One of the five great weaknesses of ineffective leaders is hesitancy. They may be brilliant, they may have great ideas and they may have passion. They are also in need of the perfect circumstance or the perfect timing in which to pursue their passion or idea. Sometimes if they are not certain of a perfect outcome they hesitate to the point of never actually getting started at all. 

 

For these leaders the hunt for perfection is a slippery slope that most often turns into the bondage of procrastination. 

 

I would never encourage anyone to halt their pursuit of perfection. That’s not what I’m recommending here. What I’m recommending is to continue moving towards your goal or objective while you’re in pursuit of perfection. You are unlikely to find perfection but the pursuit itself will likely lead you to excellence. 

 

Some people believe that excellence and perfection are identical twins. They are not. Perfection does not guarantee excellence and excellence does not require perfection. There are few things that waste more time than doing something perfectly that doesn’t need to be done at all. 

 

Excellence does require patience. You will also need an understanding that patience is the acceptance that things can happen in a different order than you had in mind. Knowing how perfection will be achieved is not a prerequisite to starting. Even knowing what perfect looks like is not required to begin. 

 

Get moving and whatever knowledge gaps you have will be filled in along the way. 

 

You’ll rarely find a perfect time to begin anything. If you’re not sure where to start then start with what you’re sure is one right thing to do. Your first step does not need to be a giant leap. Baby steps are okay and though they may be small they are considerably better than no step at all.

 

No matter how long your journey, how lofty your goal or how big your dream, your success will begin with a single step. Never forget that simple fact.


The pursuit of perfection is an honorable pursuit. It is the attainment of excellence however which will lead to your ultimate and undeniable success. Chase perfection today and you’ll be very likely to discover that excellence tomorrow.