During my workouts, I catch myself assessing my progress frequently, especially when I am in the midst of what feels like an extra tough routine. I work very hard to improve and increase my fitness and strength level, but many days I feel like I am going in the opposite direction. It feels like I push, push, push with no visible results. It’s similar to feelings I often have at the end of a year. As I am writing this blog, it is December 1st and 2015 is coming to an end) and the beginning of 2016 is on the horizon. This time of year brings self-reflection along with the fun and joy of holiday season. Just as in my workouts, I find myself questioning what I have accomplished and what I have left incomplete. Sometimes I forget that regardless of the way it appears, good progress has been made. In fact, progress makes perfect and leaders understand that in order to advance, you must grow. And every small step forward counts as a positive change.
The definition of progress is to move forward. Leaders know that the only way to accomplish an objective or goal is by taking it one step at a time. Just like your car won’t get to its destination by idling neither will you or your team get the intended results without some sort of forward motion. In my workouts, even when I don’t feel like I am building muscle or improving my fitness level, I know I must be if I am staying the course. It is not physically possible to digress when I am moving and changing. As leaders, you model the power of progress with four simple steps.
Step 1 Set the intention.
Moving forward in a positive direction requires a vision of where you are headed. My personal trainer did not let me start my workouts without setting an overall goal and direction for my physical health. My intention is to be strong and fit, so I can stay out of the doctor’s office, avoid prescription medicine and live a very happy, fun filled life until I’m 110 years old. With that goal in mind, my trainer is empowered to create workout programs that will move me consistently towards my vision. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set the intention for your team or organization. Life will still happen to you so you better establish your goal and direction or your results won’t be as powerful. Leaders make life happen for them by setting intentions.
Step 2 Take action.
This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked when trying to achieve goals in life and in business. How often have you set New Year’s Resolutions in your mind for on paper for which you never even took the first step towards making a reality? You are not alone! According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, out of the 45% of Americans who make resolutions, only 8% keep them. I would venture to say this is due to lack of action and forward movement. I often daydream about how wonderful it would be for me to gain my desired level of fitness by simply thinking about it while eating my favorite dessert! But that is just wishful thinking and I know that I must take action. That is why I have a personal trainer- to ensure that I am pushed and will continue to make progress. Leaders take action on their intentions.
Step 3 Celebrate.
I am not good at this step. I rarely take the time to acknowledge and celebrate m accomplishments. Over the 3 plus years of working out with my trainer, my overall fitness and strength has progressed immensely; however, I constantly berate myself for not improving enough, if at all. I am so thankful for the support that my trainer provides because he reminds me how far I have come and celebrates the achievements I have made. Celebrating progress does not have to be some big ordeal. It simply requires taking a time out to assess your starting point, your actions and results and then giving yourself and others a pat on the back for a job well done. Honoring your efforts provides a renewed energy that inspires further development. Leaders take time to celebrate progress.
Step 4 Adjust the game plan.
Any well laid plan and intention requires adjustment along the way. My trainer does not have me on the same routine now that we used when we started. He continuously adjusts my workout plan based on my increasing strength level. Or if he sees that maybe he is pushing me a bit too hard, he scales back the workout (just a tad) so I don’t get discouraged and quit. Progress requires consistent challenge and change. Be flexible in your actions and keep your intention in sight. Make sure that you and your team are moving in the right direction and don’t be so attached to the initial plan that you derail your forward movement. Leaders adjust their plan to keep progressing.
Progress really does make perfect, even if it seems minimal at times. Set the intention, take action, celebrate and adjust along the way if you want to make real progress in your personal and professional life.