"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."
--Archilochus, Greek Soldier, 650 BC
Most people love success stories. We talk about losing 10 kilograms or starting a successful business or even beating a health challenge as if they are singular events. But the truth is that most of these significant things are not stand-alone events, but rather the sum of all the small things we did, tried, built or tested. Step by step we achieved incremental forward momentum towards our goal.
It’s easy to talk-up that one defining moment or idea and down-play the value of incremental progress on a daily basis. Monty Hall was quoted as saying “Actually, its taken me 24 years to be an overnight success.” Variations of this quote have been used by many over the years to describe how long they have practiced or toiled at their chosen goal before the spotlight of success finally shined upon them.
So often we convince ourselves that success arrives only when there is some large, tangible outcome associated with it.
I work in the field of emergency management, consulting mainly to the commercial and private sector. From this point of view I regularly see that many organisations want success in their emergency preparedness, but in one giant leap. Rarely are organisations prepared to schedule practice so that incremental improvement can start to stack up. Improving by just one percent isn’t a big thing (and mostly it isn’t even noticeable) but in the long run, the desired results will arrive.
I often remind participants in emergency exercises that, there’s no such thing as a failed exercise - only failure to learn from it!
This is why the system is greater than the goal because it focuses on the practice, not the performance. Consistent progress towards a goal is best achieved not by setting a deadline for performance, but by setting a schedule for improvement. Especially in emergency management.
Success generally comes from practice and practice must target the things that are important to the skill or activity you wish to improve. It's rewarding if improvements are substantial and celebrate them if you have them, but more often than not the small improvements, the ‘one percenters’ are the deposits into your success bank that get you there in the end.
It’s about the journey rather than just the destination. If you want to be successful on a consistent basis, then give yourself a schedule to follow, not a deadline. Plan your practice and practice your plan.
“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
—Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur and author.