Improving While You Are Slipping

You are climbing up a steep incline. The ground you are traversing is an unpredictable sandstone or some similar material. The going is slow because the soft rock is constantly giving way; costing you twice the effort both physically and mentally. You find that the rock is crumbling in and beneath both your hands and feet. So, while you are making progress (albeit slow and hard), you don’t realize it and the desire to just move sideways instead of up continues to grow. Even worse you consider stopping the climb all together.

I don’t know if you have ever been there, but I bet most of you have felt like it at one point or another. So why does this description matter? Because the answers are similar.

When I found myself in this position physically at one point in my life, I made a conscious decision to ignore the slow progress being made toward the end and focus on the “in the moment” progress I could make. Instead of using the extra energy to reset my foot each time the rock broke away, I spent it on purposefully breaking the rock to uncover a more solid base underneath. I did the same with my hands. The top arrived a little slower than I had hoped, but quicker than I had expected. Now that I have found myself in this position for the past six months mentally and emotionally; I will repeat this lesson by refocusing my effort on the important solid core of my overall goal and the step by step actions that matter in that moment.

My biggest goal for this year has been to refocus and reinforce my belief and understanding that my success will come from the process and not the result. To be honest, that has been difficult given that each part of the process has made seeing incremental progress difficult. So what I need to do is stop reinventing what has helped me find success before and instead go (as may of my coaches have always said) back to the basics. Continued success does not depend on the context or current circumstances of our live. I depends on our daily actions born from a fundamental belief system. I practice a morning routine consisting of reading, reflecting, and exercising that is designed to help cement my beliefs and goals. I have found that by simplifying my beliefs into an affirmation I say each day has provided clarity and an increased focus on what I value.

I am an ambitious thinkerfocused on continuous improvement

I am a positive role model for my sonsevery action matters in showing them the way

I am an empathetic, and supportive husbandlove needs more than words to thrive

I am a passionate leaderpeople see and feel my commitment

I am not afraid of failingfear prevents progress

Look, times change, change is hard, and I cannot remember that last time we have encountered this much radical change. Specifically, the changes we are encountering now are forcing us to come face to face with who we fundamentally are as a person and if we don’t know who that is; things get even more difficult. It’s what’s inside us that matters. If, once we break away the lose rocks of circumstance and context, we have no footing underneath there is little chance of continuing to move forward in the face of difficulty.

So my challenge to you is to refocus in times of personal or professional struggle by simplifying your values. Distill them into an affirmation you say each morning by basing them on actions that put them on display. Then, make it happen. Speak your inner truth into a reality. Once you do that there isn’t a struggle or complicated context you can’t overcome, which sometimes, is just weathering it until you can climb again. So spend your energy knocking the useless stones out of the way so you can focus on and use the important ones that will bring you to the top of your personal mountain.

Let me know how you do by commenting below; following and commenting on twitter (@DrCSJones), or even on my YouTube page. However you decide to do it; let’s keep the conversation going.