You have heard it said many times. It’s a quick assessment of a new recruit. He’s a bit of a “project.” She’s a “work-in-progress.” How does that terminology strike you? Does your mind go to the negative or the positive? Sadly, the expression has a negative connotation. Although assessment takes place at a particular point in time, you need to stop and think more deeply about what it means. Being described as a “work-in-progress” is actually a compliment. If you have ceased to be a “work-in-progress” you have ceased to be a lifelong learner. Until you learn to embrace your identity as a “work-in-progress”, you will sabotage your path toward sustained transformation. There are several factors that connect your present assessment with a brighter future.
ATTITUDE. Anytime you want to develop a new mental model it involves your attitude and perspective. Take some time and reflect on your attitude toward your present situation and your potential for positive change. Is your work a drudgery or is it an opportunity for personal progress? Your attitude becomes an exponential modifier for personal change. With a healthy view of work, you can mine valuable insight and growth opportunities from any situation.
ENGAGEMENT. Discussions about employee engagement are plentiful. They should be. Whether or not you feel connected, energized and purposeful is very important. But employee engagement cannot ignore the common denominator. The first factor of engagement is you. The common denominator in all your work will always be you. Your personal progress will largely depend on your attitude toward the growth opportunities that your work affords you and whether you are fully present in those opportunities. Do you expect work to provide meaning to you, or do you bring meaning to work? When you embrace the challenges of your current assignment as opportunities for progress, personal engagement takes on a deeper meaning. If you have ever heard someone singing while performing what might be described as an ordinary task, you understand the difference.
CONNECTION. It begins with you, but it doesn’t end with you. Your attitude toward work will either be a bridge that extends to others or a wall that separates you from growth opportunities. Before you focus on progress, consider how your work affords you an opportunity to learn from others and enrich someone else’s experience. Leadership transformation is a team sport. Apart from relationships, where will you refine the skills necessary to soar? Quality collaboration requires relationships. You cannot practice healthy conflict resolution alone. Make a list of the qualities you have witnessed in the leaders you admire. How many of those qualities were developed in isolation? If you desire to be a “work-in-progress”, then assess how you are learning from others and how you are making your community better.
GIVE AND RECEIVE. When the lines begin to blur between giving and receiving, it’s a sign you are making significant progress. Countless interviews and testimonials reveal that the rewards of mentoring are reciprocal. Mentor and mentee are changed for the better. Coaches and players are mutually transformed in the process. It’s a good sign that you are making significant progress when the benefits of character development flow in many directions.
Obviously, arguments about whether progress is a good thing are pretty rare. At first, it seems ridiculous to state the obvious. However, we have come to expect so much value in the moment that it’s easy to forget about the value of “work-in-progress.” Rich character development is cultivated over time and it never ends. Your attitude, your level of engagement, your connection with others and your ability to give and receive are key factors in your ability to sustain progress over the long haul. Progress means tomorrow will be better than today. It also means that today is better than yesterday. If you feel you have arrived, you are standing on dangerous ground. Embrace your status as a “work-in-progress.” Wear it with pride. Expect development and plan to grow.
InitiativeOne helps leaders sustain progress over the long haul.