Two Truths About Progress

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” ~ Shirley Chisholm

Reality we Ignore

If you love basketball, seeing LeBron James or Stephen Carry on the court increases your heart rate slightly. If you are a soccer fanatic, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo might keep you late in the night watching them play. If you love books, Authors like Stephen King or Toni Morrison mesmerize you with their writings. And if you desire to be a mover and shaker, then leaders like entrepreneur and Inventor Elon Musk, or activist Tarana Burke, would be your icons.

The names of the above people and other great men and women who have resin to the top in their field have been the source of many great books or documentaries on how to be successful. We are fixated on their stories. Their stories resonate with something deep within us. They inspire us and make us believe we too could be successful. But as much as we love their stories, and are gravitated to hear their successes, we ignore the process they went through to be who they end up being. The reality we ignore is in their progress. We want their happiness without wanting to make progress.

Happiness: Living a happy life is not as difficult as we make it to be. Yes, that’s right! It’s not difficult. What makes happiness so elusive is how we think about it. We oftentimes think that happiness is something we qualify for at our destination. The truth is happiness doesn’t need to wait until we finish the journey. I have learned that we can increase our state of happiness in life if we tie happiness to progress. In fact, I believe this is the natural way it’s supposed to be. Tony Robbins says, “Progress equals happiness.” I believe it because there is no destiny without progress. Progress is what promises us of a destination.

This is why I want us to explore four stages of progress, which I will cover in the next few weeks. These steps are:

  1. Conquering an elephant: Big ideas to Big Results
  2. Mastering Rocket Science: Breaking New Ground
  3. Enduring a marathon: Sticking with the process
  4. Crossing the finish line: Winning

Before we jump in and examine the four states, I would like us to first look at two fundamental truths about progress. Missing these truths prevents many people from ever experiencing the joy or fruit of progress. Grasping and applying them in any area of your life, will make it easier for you to overcome the barrier to progress in any endeavor, be it in your business or personal life. So, here are the two truths:

1.     It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

“Anything worthwhile is uphill” my mentor John Maxwell always reminds us at John Maxwell Team, a team of coaches and teachers that John personal train. The nature of progress that makes it unattractive to many is that it’s not easy or as my middle school teacher would put it, ‘it’s not a cup of tea’. Progress calls for us to change our state. It makes us to move from what we are used to, to something unfamiliar. I remember the early few months after I went back to get my doctorate degree were the most challenging because I had been working for some time. This was true for any endeavor that I wanted to achieve that required progress. But what helps to keep on is to remember that progress is worth it.

What will be excited about making progress, even when it is not pleasant in the moment is remembering that in the end it’s worthwhile. Think of it like planting a tree that only produces fruits after months of hard work cultivating. Speaking of fruits, as many don’t appear overnight, you might not see the outcome of progress overnight. Therefore, not expecting it to be easy and seeing it’s worth it, will make you be intentional about progress.

2.     It’s not automatic.

While progress is impossible without change, it does not work like change. If you don’t do anything about directing your life to living your purpose or use your gifts, change will still take place: Time will pass, and you will get older, but you won’t get better or achieve any results. Making progress is not automatic.

The worst mistake you can make is to think that you will only get better over time. Too often people sit around and think that because they are getting older, they are getting better. That’s not true. It’s by coupling time and process that we see progress. Time + process = progress.

Mark Twain is quoted saying, “The secret of progress is getting started”. Getting started means you have to know where you are going and what you need to begin. Intentionality is what’s required to start what’s not automatic. You become intentional when you take time to consider the journey that you must begin to see the results you want. It’s by accepting that progress is not easy but worthwhile and it requires intentionality that you actually achieve success in life and be happy along the way. These two truths about progress are important to keep in mind so that a few months down the line you won’t be seated in the same place you’re today.

What’s Next….

The next phase of this blog series will be in November, which means we are approaching the end of the year. The main thing that starts to dawn on us is that we still have a few goals that we need to achieve before the end of the year, or we entirely give up on something in hopes to begin in the new year. Either way, I am sure that the value from this blog series will be needed for your success. So, before next week identify at least one area where you know you want to see progress. To help you with clarity, I want to leave you with this quote to ponder, “Don’t confuse movement and progress” Denzel Washington.

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