Occasionally I try my hand at a bit of distance running, or perhaps I should more accurately say a bit of distance stumbling as there isn’t much risk of me making the Olympic team any time soon! Actor and recording star Will Smith described one of the keys to a successful life as running. He said this because “when you’re out there and you’re running there’s a little person that talks to you. And that little person says, ‘Oh, I’m tired. My lungs (are) about to pop. I’m so hurt. I’m so tired. There’s no way I could possibly continue.’ And you want to quit, right? If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running you will learn to not quit when things get hard in your life.” This is a brilliant insight.
One of the best tools to use in defeating the nagging little voice is to take note of your progress on a regular basis, gaining encouragement by how far you have already come.
In an article posted in the Harvard Business Review authors Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer discuss the importance of recognizing progress made in meaningful work. They cite four important steps in what is called the progress principle.
First, note the gains already made by your team. You should highlight both major and minor accomplishments. We often lose sight of how far we’ve come by only focusing on the next task before us.
Second, recognize all those who contributed to the progress. This applies equally to those in a support role. You are the leader of your project or personal ministry and this also applies to your contributions. Take a moment to personally celebrate your own role as well.
Third, map out your future progress. Communicate your long term vision but also include more immediate milestones. Remember to include an explanation as to why these measures are important. This will allow your team to see continued, steady progress while also understanding the reason their efforts matter.
Fourth, endeavor to support each member of your team. To develop a culture of achievement they need continued resources and time. As the leader you should also work to remove any barriers to their success.
David adds an additional item to this list. In the first of the Psalms he states how important it is to be making progress toward the right things. His advice is to avoid poor influences. We should focus instead on the good things God has laid out for us. By seeking a just and moral direction success will come our way.
One of the best ways to conquer the nagging doubts in our organization or in ourselves is by taking time to note the progress we have made toward our goals. We each want to be part of something both meaningful and successful. Take the time to recognize how far you’ve come and celebrate those who contributed to that success. Lead your team in a proper direction and you will all be running toward progress.