Tag Archives: progress

Moving Forward – Progress First

What’s the #1 motivator for people? Progress! When we move forward with something, anything, large or small we get a blip of satisfaction. We get happier. This simple fact is something I often hear from participants that they find particularly powerful in Quixote Consulting’s Resiliency trainings. Start the day by making progress on something that’s important to you. This often means breaking something very large into smaller, manageable chunks. Start with the easiest, quickest ‘chunk’. This helps you with your positive self-talk. I have long-term music projects. I liken these projects to building the pyramids – they take time. To really learn the language of music, to be fluent in it, takes a lifetime. If I focus on the end result somewhere weeks, months, years, decades away I don’t see any progress and get frustrated. Instead I use a tracking sheet listing specific areas I’m working on that I check off at the end of each day. This shows me that I’ve progressed by investing my time and energy in what’s important. Every time I put a little smiley face in a box I feel a sense of progress. And it redirects my attention away from the unhealthy demand for fruition. Researchers gave students a test with the same questions. Half of the students had a test with the hardest questions first. The other half got a test with the easiest questions first. Which group do you think did better? The students with the easiest questions first. Start with the easiest material first and feel the power of progress. You are your own best friend and your own worst critic. When things go wrong some scared part of us inevitably rears up and tells us how incompetent we are and how tragic that incompetency is going to be for our life. When things go right – if we’re lucky or smart – we attribute that to our ability to persist. If I’m in too bad a place to be able to start my day focused directly on happiness, I can find my way into it by focusing on progress. You start your day with happiness by starting with progress first. Quixote Consulting helps teams move forward with collaborative team building, music team building, charity team building and interactive training in resiliency, influencing, and assessments such as MBTI, StrengthsFinder, Firo-B and DiSC.

Posted in Persistence, Training, Happiness, Positive Psychology | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

Love’s Confusing Joy (Part Two)

If you want what visible reality can give, you’re an employee. – Rumi Results. We want results. That’s what an employer is looking for. Progress, growth, success. And, as an employee, that’s the focus as well. There’s nothing wrong with being an employee, but I do the work I do because I believe that we’re more than just employees. We’re people who have cares, hopes, fears, fierce passions and loyalties, longings and on and on. We bring those with us wherever we go, including work. The biggest factor in my frustration and dissatisfaction while practicing the harmonica is what I perceive as a lack of progress – both in that moment and overall in my musical life. As a mentor said to me, “you can’t enjoy kindergarten because you wish you were in 4th grade.” How true. When I’m in that trap of self-loathing because I’m more than forty years old and I still can’t play a certain scale or improvise in different keys, or outline ii Vs in all keys in anything other than ballad time, etc., I’m trapping myself in an employee/employer relationship. I’m just looking for results. Visible reality says I’m not the most amazing at doing what I’m practicing. If I just listen to visible reality, I can feel pretty badly about myself. And get either angry at myself for lack of results or feel panicky that I haven’t done it right yet. I can give up on a concept if I don’t get it within five minutes. There’s not a lot of self-deprecating humor that can happen when you just want what visible reality can give. I know I’m just an employee of music when I can’t do something right and feel a hot flash of shame or frustration. I know I’m more than just an employee when a bemused grin comes to me at my screwing up some exercise or song yet again. There’s either tightness or relaxation at unsuccessful attempts. The tightness is an ‘employee’ response. The relaxation is sweet. This post is part of a series that shows how April’s passion and play come to the rescue of winter’s persistence by looking at a poem by Rumi, line by line.

Posted in Passion, Play, Put It Together | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Rhythm > Melody and Harmony on the Path to Success (A Music of Teams Music Team Building Post)

In Quixote Consulting’s Play the Blues harmonica music team building activity, people learn how to play some of their favorite rock and blues songs on the harmonica. But most time is spent on playing rhythms on the harmonica.  It’s the most basic part of playing – it is the foundation. And oddly enough, it’s the most fun. It allows maximum participation. When rhythm is the focus in a team, no single person is in danger of getting singled out for screwing up. Not worrying about screwing up is a prerequisite for enjoying any activity, and usually leads to a better performance. When you’re starting a project – whether it’s an actual work project, your day, learning how to do something, making a meal, driving to work – consider what kind of rhythm will best support you. That’s the horse that will best drive the cart. If you do start with rhythm, you’ll have a greater chance at quick success just like the harmonica players. And success breeds more success. The #1 motivator is not money or fame – it’s progress. We get a jolt of positive energy when we experience success at something that has some degree of challenge to it (which is why we don’t get excited when we’re successful at changing the channel on the TV with the remote). That infusion of good energy generates the interest and ability to try something else, creating a positive feedback loop. I notice how true this is for work days in the office. If I can start early in the day and get something done right away, there’s a much greater chance of feeling the joy of the work and getting more things done in the day. It’s much more difficult to get in the zone if I start late and start by reading the news, or engage in any other distraction that I can dream up. If you want success, start with the rhythm. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that links the rhythm of music to your rhythm and the rhythm of your team. Quixote Consulting’s music team building site www.musicofteams.com has a wealth of free resources to help you integrate the power of music into your life, work and team. From the manic fun of Name That Tune to writing a team theme song, learning how to play harmonica, guitar, drums and more, Music of Teams music team building has the musical setting to help your team ‘band’ be at its best.

Posted in Music | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

“I lower my standards”: William Stafford and How Progress Trumps Perfectionism

The poet William Stafford wrote a poem daily – every morning, starting at either 4 or 4:30 AM depending on which account you read. When asked what happened if the poem wasn’t amazing, he replied, “I lower my standards.” Lowering standards – I can see a sea of executives and testing afficionados react in horror. Standards are standards, right? Not if you want to progress at something you care about. There’s time enough for high standards later, when you publish. The daily act of creation, of innovation of producing the work you were born to produce is going to give varying degrees of quality. The important part is to keep the flow flowing, no judgment. And when it does come in, be like William Stafford – lower your standards. This is the second part of a 40 Days to Change for Good ritual – the first part is to do it daily. Robert Frost also tells us to make sure the work is motivated by delight. Progress is the #1 motivator. If you want the power of the #1 motivator as one of your tools, make sure it trumps your urge for perfection. There’s time later for polishing. Lower your standards until you get the flow flowing and the work moving.

Posted in Persistence, Positive Psychology, Change | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

The French have a 37 hour work week and retire at 60 – what’s wrong?

The French have a 37 hour work week and retire at 60 but they rank consistently as one of the unhappiest work forces in the world. Why? What’s missing? Two things – passion and the chance at progress through persistence. 1 – Passion – What you do every day needs in some way to be connected to something you’re passionate about. At least if you want to be happy. It’s not about how short the time is that you do stuff you don’t want to do (a 37 hour work week) or that it will end sooner rather than later (retire at 60). Focusing on what nice things will happen when you stop working – extrinsic motivation – will do nothing but make you not want to work. While hiking the other week I fantasized about retiring. What would I do if I retired? More of what I’m doing right this moment – writing. So, my challenge – if I want my passion to be involved and I want to be happy (yes, please!) – is to find a way to write more and have less To Do list type things. No matter what you do for work, there has to be some kernel of passion in it for you. Some place where your strengths and talents are being put into play and you get lost in it, even for a few moments. Start there. 2 – Progress through persistence – Progress is the #1 motivator. French worker structure is very hierarchal. If you have the right degree you get promoted. If you don’t, you don’t. No opportunities means no energy. No wonder a French worker said that he was tired. If there’s no passion and no opportunity for progress, tired is the only possible outcome. What opportunities are there in your life for you to progress? Where aren’t there opportunities? Identify both and head as fast as you can to the areas where you can progress. Passion + Progress = Happiness. Passionately progress well!

Posted in Passion, Persistence | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

The joys of triple distillation

Yesterday I wrote about distilling your harvest. While in the Rocky Mountains recently I enjoyed a glass or two of Jameson Irish whiskey. It’s smooth and delicious, the product of triple distillation. What’s triple distillation? The whiskey makers go through the distillation process three times. Each time, more and more impurities are separated from the whiskey. Some vodka makers also triple distill. What’s your 20%? If you boil down your day, you’ll find 20% of your day gets 80% of your work done. What’s your 20%? This is the place where your talents meet your natural interest to form your passion. Even though 20% doesn’t sound like much, this is where it all happens. This is the place to focus on. Do less of whatever is in the other parts of your day and more of what you do in that 20% and you’ll progress. Progress is the #1 motivator, a reward of persistence when combined with passion. The more you focus on that sweet spot of passion, the more you distill what you do down to that, the more successful you’ll be. Once you’ve distilled your day, your season, your year down to the essentials, do it again. And again. Watch your progress in what you care about to help keep the flame of persistence boiling your passion. And your life, like a fine whiskey, will be enjoyed fully. Here’s to a toast to a life well lived, triple distilled!

Posted in Passion, Purpose, Persistence | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed