Complacency and comfort are the enemies of business and life, my friends. Life is going one of two ways: No. 1, it’s standing still; or No. 2, it’s going backward.
The common myth that you can find a comfortable level of success and just stay there is killing your business. Life is meant to progress. We’re meant to grow and evolve and step into our greatness. We’re meant to innovate and push our business to better than it was a week ago, a month ago, a year ago or 10 years ago. As a coach for leaders in the blue-collar industries for decades, I’ve coached and guided thousands of people into millions of profit and success. Every time I do, one of the first things we look at is how to become your own progress catalyst and spark change in yourself and your business. If you’re not growing, you’re going backward, my friends.
To get there, we need to ask ourselves five essential questions with brutal honesty about ourselves and our business. This process will show us how to get where we want to be and what we need to get there. Let’s dig in.
No. 1: Where is our business naturally progressing?
As I said before, life is progress. Your business is pushing itself to progress, whether you realize it or not. There’s an area where one of two things is happening:
- Your business is naturally growing, even if it’s slow; or
- There’s a level of discomfort or struggle in specific areas.
Both of these are good things (even if the second one doesn’t feel like it at first. The first point is easy to see if you look. Maybe there’s a new product, service, client market or whatever it is. You’ve been forced to include it or start looking into it, and you’re finding a degree of success. It could be big, or it could be small. Either way, this is a sign that this area is a progress target.
The second one’s a little harder to wrap your head around. Why would we want to look at a topic we’re failing in as something to lift us up? Here’s a secret: Failing isn’t failure unless you never learn from it.
On some level, your business or life is telling you that you know this area can be better. If you struggled without the chance to improve, you’d quit. When you keep beating your head against the wall, trying to be better at it, you know you need it. How much better will it feel once you’ve got it down?
No. 2: What makes this area important?
Very little in life is more motivating or eye-opening than looking at the “why” you do something or “why” it’s important. Take some time to decide why the targeted progress areas are important to you and your business. Maybe it’s the potential profit growth. Maybe it’ll help your brand down the road. Whatever it is, write it down, say it out loud and do what you need to make it clear to yourself and your teammates.
A funny thing happens when you take the time to answer this question. When things get tough, you remember this and feel motivated to push through the hard times. When you find yourself off the path you made, or you find the path isn’t working, the “why” will help you decide how to alter your plan to stay true to the heart of the progress.
No. 3: What is supporting the progress?
Now, we’re getting into the nitty-gritty, the practical application of the progress. The previous two steps are essential, but they’re a little more thoughtful and philosophical. Don’t skip them! Here is where we start to come up with an action plan.
First, take a look at your progress area. Whether it’s going well, okay or sucking, look at what systems, training, people, resources or whatever is in place that’s supporting this area. There may not be a lot, and you can learn from that. Write down what you are already doing. At this point, you may start to realize there are big gaps in what you need to progress. Write these down if they come to you, but make your focus taking an inventory of what you have, what’s working and what’s not.
No. 4: How can I maximize my momentum?
A lot of my clients get excited after the third question. They’ll race off and try to implement ideas they came up with.
Stop! Don’t jump the gun! You’re not done yet.
In this step, you need to look at your progress target and look hard for things that are going right. Even if the area seems like it’s all bad, I strongly encourage you; I implore you ($10-word right there) to stop and look for things you and your team are doing well. This is your momentum. And just like in real life, it’s easier to speed up a moving train than it is to get one going in the first place.
If you start over with a brand new plan, it might work, but it’ll cost a lot of energy, both physical and mental. You’ll want to start new things, sure, but maximize what momentum you have by first focusing on finding what you do well and making it even better.
No. 5: What’s something I need to do to create more progress?
Now is the action plan. This is where I look at things I need to make my progress go. This includes the things we do well and things we lack. Here is where you come up with your action plan for progress. This is where you become the progress catalyst through intent.
Maybe you look around and realize the script you’re using for upselling doesn’t work. Invest in a new one. Maybe you realize your team could use extra training in a specific area. Take that step. Maybe you already have a teammate doing exceptionally well in your progress area. Ask them to take leadership and help others on your team. It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but clear steps will help you.
In my time as a leader and business owner, as well as my time spent coaching others in this area, the process of this progress catalyst, of stepping up and taking ownership of your business and its path forward, has been one of the most game-changing I’ve ever seen. Now it’s up to you. Go progress. Go up your game. You’ve got this!