…by writing everyday, even if it’s only a couple paragraphs or a page or two.” – James Rollins
This quote has been attributed to American veterinarian and best-selling action-adventure novel writer James Rollins.
When we begin a new undertaking – be it something like a personal diet, learning a new skill, or even leading an enterprise-wide change management initiative – the beginning is often fun. When we start new things we typically do so with a lot of energy and optimism. This makes sense because once we recognize the value add of something it is normal to jump into it with a great deal of zest and gusto.
With that said, it is much harder to maintain that momentum over time. Because once we get past the initial excitement over the major improvements we’re going to make to our lives, the lives of others, and/or our organizations, the high octane enthusiasm that accompanied us at the start of our journey is replaced by the sobering reality of the (often difficult) work ahead. Adding to the challenge, the further along we advance in a process the fewer easy victories we get.
James’s quote speaks to what it is to recognize this reality and keep moving forward. See, the truth of the matter is that no matter how wonderful our intentions are, some days it is simply much easier to be our best self than others. This is normal as life has ebbs and flows, and such things play a role in the degree to which we can give our best effort on any given day.
…So as we get started this week, I would like to ask you to establish a zero marker. If you’re working on a novel like Rollins it might be writing a paragraph a day no matter what, or if you’re learning a new programming language like me it might be exposing yourself to (and executing) one new piece of program functionality per day. If you’re on a diet then maybe it’s a 10 minute run in the morning. Or if you’re implementing (or learning to live with) a new system – then perhaps it means trying to do one thing a little bit differently than you did the day before.
…This zero marker will be different for everyone. But – regardless of what that step looks like for each of us – if we take at least one step forward every single day then we will keep making progress.
…And yeah, it will just be incremental.
But change always is.