Career | Habits | Personal Growth | Productivity | Writing

Progress Whispers

Momentum is a funny thing. It doesn’t come from one big day of contribution, but from small, daily effort over time. Like many people I use the Jim Collins analogy from Good to Great of pushing the flywheel when I reference momentum. Here’s his own summary of the flywheel effect:

“There is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.” – Jim Collins, The Flywheel Effect

We’re all pushing at some flywheel, aren’t we? In our careers, our fitness, our relationships with our spouse and families, and really, in all of our pursuits. Put in your 10,000 hours one small act at a time and over time you reach a level of mastery, as Malcolm Gladwell has spotlighted.

I came across this quote from Jon Acuff that got me thinking back on the flywheel effect. I’d read his book Finish last year, but I wasn’t in a place where it resonated with me. But I uploaded it again to see what I’d highlighted, and this stood out for me:

“Progress, on the other hand, is quiet. It whispers. Perfectionism screams failure and hides progress.” – Jon Acuff, Finish

Perfectionism screams… and blocks. Don’t write the first draft because it sucks. But everyone’s first draft sucks. Every NBA player missed countless shots in the driveway before they nailed them in the NBA Finals. Forget perfectionism, look for progress instead. Progress whispers. Did I take a step towards my goal? Yes, great! No? Don’t miss tomorrow. But keep chipping away at it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’ve written every day for well past a year, and I’m slowly seeing progress. Better writing, easier flow, expanding palette for new ideas, and an ever-increasing portfolio of completed posts. The writing has bled over into the career, pushing me to be more consistent there, and into other areas I’ve written about before. Progress whispers, but when you look back on it you find you’ve got a lot of momentum going on that flywheel. So by all means, don’t stop pushing now.

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