“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Note: Please help me welcome Eduard Ezeanu, from People Skills Decoded, here today, as our guest writer.
We all want to progress, although some more than others. I believe that the attitudes and perceptions we have about progress determine to a large degree how effective we are in making progress and how much we enjoy it.
Here is one perception which a lot of us have engrained and it sabotages our lives: the perception that progress is linear. This means that consciously or not, we see progress like a straight road, which goes directly and smoothly to our destination.
So we expect to constantly make progress, and to make progress in the same degree in equal periods of time. In a way, applying this perception, we see a 10 year old person as twice what a 5 year old is and a 20 year old as twice what a 10 year old is.
I think this is a very stiff and unrealistic view of progress. Not even a tree grows like that, in a linear way. Why should we expect a human being to do so? If we want to truly embrace progress and have fun with it, we need to realize that progress is not linear. Progress is organic.
This mean that we may go through long periods with little progress, followed by periods of lighting fast progress, or periods when we regress, in order to create a context which allows even bigger progress than the previous one.
Here is one example I meet often in my coaching practice: people who advance in a certain professional field, until they reach a point when they no longer feel fulfilled in that field. Often, what they need to do is find a field which would be even more fulfilling for them, get in that field and grow in it.
The thing is, moving from a professional field in which you are at a very high level to a field which is new for you represents initially a form of regression. But it is this regression which allows you to make afterwards progress in this new field and reach heights you couldn’t have reached in the previous one.
In other words, you need to regress before you can progress again and maximize the use of your potential. It still amazes me how few people understand this at a deep level and are willing to do it.
Our linear views of progress often keep us stuck in a fear of regress, fear of change which in the end sabotages our progress instead of helping us. We try to grow constantly and smoothly, but we end up getting stuck and feeling sorry for ourselves. Unfortunately, this is the story of many people in this world.
I believe it’s fundamental for us to have a more plastic and realistic view of progress. To understand that it’s a tangled road rather than a straight one; that we sometimes need to distance ourselves from our destination before we can get even closer to it.
It is only with this kind of a view that we can learn to walk the tangled road of life, get to where we want and enjoy the journey as well.
Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach with an attitude-based approach. He helps others to improve people skills they find relevant and get top notch results. He also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded, and you can follow him on Twitter at @EduardSays.