When I think about coaching, I realize that as both a coach and as one being coached, our reach for the ultimate vision can make it easy to overlook the small positives along the way. The key to daily happiness however, comes from being able to recognize and celebrate them – and to recognize others for them regularly and often.
It is easy, especially in business, to fail in this area. If the goal is 5% sales growth, and you only hit 3%, there can be a tendency to simply say, “We didn’t hit the goal.” That is a fact. But what if you are in the midst of a turnaround, and that 3% represents a two point gain over where the business has been trending? I would argue that is a significant accomplishment that needs acknowledgement. So do your people.
It’s no different in our personal lives, and in many ways it is more important on the journey of personal change to recognize the small steps instead of focusing on the end goal. Despite our efforts to envision what we want our world to look like – the endstate – the truth is that the journey is usually endless. When we achieve some semblance of our vision, it is incumbent on us to create a new one that adapts to changing circumstances, and allows for the fact that what we are capable of might be greater than we previously believed. That is how we cause great change, and how we avoid stagnation.
Great change isn’t always measured in how far the needle moves. Sometimes it is measured in the fact that the needle moved at all. I know countless stories, some of them my own, where the focus on the grand glory has prevented sincere movement because that ultimate prize is too big. While keeping focus on that prize, make sure that you are measuring it with the power of the small, seeking smaller wins that eventually lead to your vision. This is what motivates us, and it’s how we measure progress. It also allows us to adjust along the way.