How to-- and why you must-- make progress a daily habit

*systems progress Dec 29, 2021

Did you know that when NASA launches a rocket, it almost immediately goes off course?

While you would expect this to be an exact science, successful missions are actually a series of corrections. Growth requires constant adjustments.

Not too long ago, I sat down with Elizabeth Dixon-- Lead of Strategy, Hospitality and Service Design at Chick-fil-A-- where we discussed how remaining agile and making adjustments allowed Chick-fil-A to continue setting the standard in customer service and innovation, even when there was no clear path forward during the pandemic.

(You can listen to that talk here.)


This is like that

Adjustments in leadership share a similarity with space travel, navigating a pandemic or simply making the most of the everyday situations you find yourself in. No day is perfect, but every day can make progress.

What's the key?

Knowing the areas to focus on and being able to adjust along the way.

Keep the five areas below on your radar, make course corrections at times, and eventually you will successfully land where you're aiming.


1. Be Honest

Why do organizations stop growing?

Simple. They choose not to have the conversations they need to have.

Leadership begins by defining reality. Be honest with those around you and yourself.

Take an honest assessment of where you are right now. Honesty accelerates productivity because it identifies your starting point.

Get over feelings of fear and doubt that try to convince you that you should be further along than you are. You’re not graded on how good you are; you’re graded by how willing you are to get better.


2. Be Imperfect

Most leaders need to drop the pursuit of perfection. Perfect is an unrealistic expectation.

Perfectionism doesn't mean "I'm perfect." It means "I’m miserable!"

Don't worry about getting something perfect, just get it started and you can get it perfect along the way (i.e., even a flawless launch goes off course and needs constant corrections).


3. Be Open

Everything you lead will have moments where you think, “Didn't see that coming!”

Stay open to changes and be willing to adapt. Be ready to go in any direction. Some of your best ideas come from the fourth or fifth iteration of your original idea. Leaving the door open to opportunities allows opportunities to open doors.


4. Be Positive

If you are responsible for anything, you will face obstacles. What differentiates a leader from a person simply in charge is how they handle obstacles.

Positivity is a cornerstone of good leadership. Resist the urge to wallow in what’s difficult about a situation and have a great attitude about what you can do.

You can do this.

Say it real slow...

I. Can. Do. This.


5. Be Proactive

Not making a decision is making a decision. Dreams won’t be reality until you do the work to make them so.

If you want it to work, you have to work at it. So...

  • Make the decision.
  • Take action.
  • Reap the results!

What can you do today to help your dream become a reality?

Quit dreaming and schedule the first three things you will do to make that dream happen. Dreams progress when they are on your calendar.

Move things forward.

Create momentum.

Proactively make things happen.

(And, remember, you'll continually make improvements in the process-- a little bit each day.)