When you’re driving change, you may be drawn into conversations about what progress you are making. Whenever I’m discussing (or thinking about) progress I try to keep this C.S. Lewis quote swirling in my head:
But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
How can you know you’re making real progress?
For me, I get a feeling, a thought, an external indication that all I’m doing is making a bad thing work better; I know I’m not creating a real good. When I get that thought, feeling or indication, it takes all my will to stop moving forward.
But, as I slow, stop and turn toward the right road, I start to feel, think, notice that the indications are back in my favor and I’m back on course to drive change toward the place I want to be.
Example: In an earlier post I mentioned the battle I waged between overtime and throughput. Improving the application of overtime was progress down the wrong road. Advocating for throughput goals (and the application of overtime only to enable the throughput goals) was the right road. It took all my strength to slow, turn and restart that engine, but choosing the right road made the difference.
You can do it. You can create real progress. Are you willing to try?