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Progress Whispers

Scales don’t lie, and this week I added a couple of travel pounds. Sales meetings involve unnatural portion sizes repeated often, with snacks in between. And so the pants were a bit more snug than when I arrived. That seemed to be the consensus as all 90% of us immediately agreed to lose 10 pounds by a trade show in September. Peer pressure multiplied by $20 each generally does the trick.

“Progress…. is quiet. It whispers. Perfectionism screams failures and hides progress.” – Jon Acuff

Some words jolt you awake and help you see things a bit more clearly. Progress whispers resonated for me this morning. Progress towards our objectives is often painfully slow, and we find ourselves growing frustrated by the level of progress we might be making. Acuff makes another point in highlighting perfectionism as the antagonist to progress, undermining it with its relentless chirping.

Steve Pressfield describes this as “The Resistance“, Seth Godin calls it our “Lizard Brain“. It’s the inner voice that tells you it’s not good enough and not yet. Godin’s advice is to start pulling the thread anyway, to learn to dance with The Resistance. To ship your work, even if it’s not perfect. The concept of shipping a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is common in nimble businesses today, but harder to dance with when it comes to writing your first novel or starting a business.

Sales is a numbers game, and so is losing weight, writing a novel (or blog) or accomplishing any worthwhile objective. Progress whispers, and you need to break it down into the smallest increments to track it just to see any meaningful forward momentum. The 12 burpees I do every morning aren’t all that much, but they add up to 4380 in a year. I’ve noticed the change in my body even from this small amount, done repeatedly and consistently over time. So it is with sales calls, writing daily, and other accretive activity.

Losing weight is tougher as you get older. You may say it’s because our metabolism slows down. I’d certainly say that too. But then I look at the guy I went to college with who rides his bike every day and hikes the rest of the time. His high activity level has bought him washboard abs, without sacrificing career or family. Another friend who embraced CrossFit shortly before turning 50 is now in better shape than when he was 25. No, “metabolism” is “Lizard Brain” in disguise.

Activity over time equals identity. Athletic, writer, Rainmaker, parent, spouse and trusted friend are all identities I try to embrace. I’m a little better at a few than others but hope to make progress with each. My progress may be a faint whisper but it’s progress nonetheless. Best for me to listen for it more. Throwing $20 dollars and the threat of peer ridicule to the mix amplifies the goal a bit too.

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