If you have recently started learning something new like a personal skill, have undertaken a new business venture or expanded an existing one, it can sometimes feel like progress is either non-existent or very, very s-l-o-w.
Why does it feel this way? Well sometimes because we are either focusing on the end result and it seems far away, or we are comparing ourselves with the progress of other people in a similar position.
For example, if you have started a new business you may still be putting in the necessary groundwork to build your foundations but are comparing your results with someone else who is now gathering customers.
I know from experience how easy it is to fall into this trap and become disheartened with an apparent lack of headway. In fact this very thought hit me quite recently. Luckily, I guard my thoughts on a regular and consistent basis so I can challenge such negativity and steer my mind to change.
So my ‘thought gatekeeper’ quickly reminded of a scenario earlier in life.
Sometimes our progress can be appear slow or stagnant. But appearances can be deceptive.
In my early 20’s I took up martial arts. I started learning Kenshikan, an unorthodox, but effective, style of karate. Learning the basic blocks and strikes with both hands and legs and putting combinations of these in attack and defence was hard.
And the Kata’s (Like martial arts dance sequences for anyone not familiar with the term) I found difficult. The amount of detail that went into each one was vast if they were to be done correctly. Stances, blocks and strikes had to be spot on. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be graded and earn your next coloured belt.
After about 4 months of this I began to get frustrated. So much so that I felt like quitting. You could say I felt like giving it the chop (Okay, there will be no more awful puns in this post).
I just couldn’t seem to get these movements quite right. My instructor was strict as well as motivational and he rightly demanded they were done correctly.
Then one Wednesday evening we had an intake of about 5 newbies all wanting to learn this fine art. By the second lesson they were introduced to the basic moves and the basic Kata. My Sensei, being wise as well as strict and motivational, pulled me to one side and told me to go over and watch the new recruits train.
After watching for 20 minutes or so my sensei came over and asked me if I thought I was doing the moves better than they were. He also asked me if I could notice how much actual progress I had made.
I could. I remembered how I had got so many things wrong, like they were, in my early days. I had made a quantum leap in comparison to the fresh students. But I had wrongly been comparing myself with the guys and girls who were higher belts than me and had been learning for much longer too.
And until I saw these newbies making the same mistakes I made when I had first joined, I couldn’t see my own progress. The frustration left me immediately.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated at what you might think is a lack of headway in whatever you are doing, take a moment to look back at where you were when you first started, then make a comparison to where you are now.
You will more than likely see you are steaming ahead. And if not now, if you keep at it, you will soon experience your very own quantum leap.