Winning Small Written By Charity Butler
“All the time I see people with purpose who are inconsistent in their progress.” –John Maxwell, Leadership Expert
This statement hit me like a sucker-punch to the gut! In recent years, I’ve been full of passion and purpose but, at times, have lacked the desired progress.
My passions and purpose have been driven by big dreams, huge goals. I became laser-focused and poured all my energy into creating and achieving insanely huge feats. I worked tirelessly, trying to maintain a sprinter’s pace under marathon-like circumstances.
Let’s just say life balance was a joke, and serious progress seemed ever out-of-reach. Projects that I believed in deeply blew-up in my face. I remained committed and worked tirelessly.
Are not the skills and disciplines we learn in athletics supposed to teach us to succeed in life? If we work harder, we are supposed to succeed, right?
Have you heard (or maybe even used) any of these motivational statements?
When you’re not working, someone else is.
Do today what others will not so tomorrow you can do what others cannot.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
As an athlete, my little heart was pumped full of mottos of success such as these. Off the field, I set out to conquer life in the same way that I did opponents in competition. I was working really hard, so what was I missing?
Robert Collier had the answer, “success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
I realized that as an athlete, my passion and purpose were inspired by big goals and dreams, but they were backed by daily disciplines. I was the first to practice, the last to leave. I spent untold hours taking extra ground balls, reps in the batting cage, grinding it out in the weight room and pushing through hardcore conditioning programs. My nutrition was on point, and I stayed hydrated. My routines were structured and clear.
As an adult, I knew how to set big goals. Dreaming big is as easy as breathing, but at times my daily disciplines have waned. Oh, I worked hard alright. I gave everything I had in one segment of life, while all of the other areas suffered. I was like a player who only adopted one of the training aspects above. I was one-dimensional, at best.
As former athletes, it seems our discipline should propel us to post-player greatness. We are tough. We know what it is to push ourselves and to experience delayed gratification. Why, then, do many of us struggle? Why do our careers, our finances, our health, personal growth, family relationships, friendships and/or our spiritual lives seem like disasters at times?
The majority of us do not provide daily attention to all of these important areas. Some of us may be overwhelmed and burned out. Others may be bored. Some may be truly thriving. No matter the current state or season of life, our daily routines are crucial.
As a new school year begins, this is the time of year to focus on goals. What will we do, have and be in the next twelve months? What will our programs accomplish? For the 2013-14 season, I challenge you to dream big and win small.
Win small, you ask? Yes! Win small by establishing regular routines that will help you make progress in every category of life: career, finance, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family, social, etc.
Establish a small habit in each of the above areas. Your habits should fit you. Be clear about what you want and work within manageable, daily routines so you make regular progress in ways that are important to you. These habits must be realistic, otherwise consistency is impossible.
Follow through with the small habits every day, week or month (whichever is applicable). Peak Performance Coach Brian Cain advises, “It’s better to do a little a lot than a lot a little.” The implications of this tiny idea are staggering.
Some of my small, new habits include, contacting friends on my self-imposed lunch hour via text, email or phone. This little routine is allowing me to recharge in the middle of the day while staying involved in the lives of people that matter. The short window of time also keeps me from gabbing for too long!
I am also cleaning my house for several minutes each morning, instead of pushing all those responsibilities to the weekend. The load is much lighter! I get more done in less time and have less to do by staying consistent.
I have also set aside time each day to read, even if it is only 10 minutes. My workouts are now about 20 minutes of intense training, so I truly have no excuse for missing them. Pushing hard is essential, as time is limited.
My professional habits are now clear, as well. Each responsibility has an assigned day and time. Weekly time is also allotted for unexpected issues or catching up on tasks needing more attention.
By giving myself parameters and committing to consistent action, progress is becoming reality! I am also much more efficient. According to Leonard Bernstein, one of the most famous composers in American history, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Daily deadlines have added a little healthy pressure and produced surprising efficiency. With a little consistency, I have been amazed what 10 minutes per day can afford.
Please understand I am by no means promoting my new habits as the best ideas for you. Only you can determine what you want and where you need to make progress.
We are all very different, but to achieve life balance, we must all choose daily discipline. “Whether you are a success or failure in life has little to do with your circumstances; it has much more to do with your choices.” –Nido Qubein
Dream big, be passionate and have purpose, but choose to make progress by winning small. The results are unexpectedly huge!