Feeling the pressure to achieve? Let me tell you the story of Chinese bamboo…
You plant the seed and take care of it for an entire year - water it, nurture the soil, moderate the conditions, but it doesn’t come out of the soil.
Year two, you continue to look after it for another year, the right water, temperature, space, but still no growth above the ground.
Year three, same thing, one whole year of nurturing and nothing to show for it.
Year four, again, you give it everything you can for an entire year, and still nothing.
On year five, after four years of nurturing, it not only comes out of the soil but it shoots 80 feet into the air in just six weeks. Some say you can actually see it growing if you really watch it closely.
Are you at that point with your business yet? Or are you feeling like you are just spinning your wheels, and nothing is happening. Maybe you want to give up? But maybe there’s that little voice inside you telling you to keep going?
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Eventually everything has a tipping point where it just clicks and takes off. If you give up before the tipping point you’ll never know what could have been.
Most people overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can achieve in ten.
Last November I started my professional coach training and I set a goal that first day to be qualified, set up in business, with paying clients one year later – November 2020. I was humbled to read that on submitting my final paperwork some months back - surprisingly I had surpassed all three of those goals by a good few months.
So maybe you can underestimate what you can do in a year...the problem of overachieving in one period however is future extrapolation, expectations and pressure to keep it up in the next. In a session with my own coach last month he applauded me for having taken on at least one new paying client each month for the last few months, so this was my baseline, new business in November was a given. But November came and went, and no new client*. Should I freak out? Has the magic gone? Has my luck run out? Should I stop?
A mentor told me that to take the pressure off himself, he has a 25 year mission, which he checks in on and evaluates every 90 days. If it’s been a great 90 days, then he’s 1% closer to his mission, if it’s not been the best, well it’s only 1% of his timeline, so he readjusts for the next 90 and carries on, no biggie, no pressure.
When I look at what I have achieved over the last four quarters, I can now see the cumulative progress. In the first two quarters, I wouldn’t have seen much physical progress, as like the bamboo, it was growing under the surface. What’s happening with the bamboo is it’s growing a really, really deep root system, so it can explode into the air without falling over. In the same way, maybe I need those months, quarters, years to build a deep belief system, deep strategy, deep network, deep skills, before I can take off like a rocket.
What deep root system are you building right now?
What progress can you already celebrate?
What’s your 25-year mission?
And what would a good 90 days, 1% progress look like?
*as I was writing this on 1st December, a new client was wiring me her investment in my programme, and two corporate clients were writing an invitation for me to send a proposal…keep the faith!