Yes, I’m aware that a few weeks ago I wrote a similar e-mail.
I’m also aware that I also recently wrote an e-mail about the importance of Redundancy 🙂
So bear with me. This is important. Hence the redundancy!
I often field e-mails from students (at the academy, and abroad – we have a decent social media reach here) – about their frustrations with their progress, or perceived lack thereof.
Beginners, or those with the “Beginner’s Mindset,” have trouble seeing progress, as if it’s some opaque, viscous thing that leaves a residue on everything it touches. And they often believe that the absence of this supposedly visible progress somehow means that progress isn’t being made or, worse, they are going backwards somehow.
However, progress is largely invisible.
It’s kind of like a beam of light. Unless it reflects off something, you can’t see it. It’s not like the Star Wars movies where bright blue or orange bursts erupt from the barrels of futuristic weapons. In fact, real lasers are actually invisible until they reflect off something. Immensely powerful, but invisible until impact.
Progress is the same. But keep in mind, too, that not everything is reflective. We may have a hard time seeing our progress as it is reflected off our training partners, as they are many-faceted and in constant motion. Progress is best seen upon a fixed position–something tangible, yet measurable. This is why weight loss is generally an easy thing to see progress on, you literally just record a series of numbers from a scale over time. Simple.
In belted martial arts, we can see our progress reflected upon the stripes on, or color of, our belt. We can see it in the championship medals earned in tournaments, or in the # of wins vs. losses in our record.
But it can be difficult to see in places where there are no reflective surfaces–pretty much, everything we surround ourselves with in our day-to-day pursuit of improvement.
We say, “seeing is believing,” and that is absolutely true.
However, we have to understand that we can’t always see everything that’s happening around us.
Cell phone signals. Ultraviolet light. Changes in air pressure. The list goes on and on.
All immensely potent, but essentially invisible to the eye.
Get out of the mentality of needing to see progress. It’s difficult to do. Beginner’s seek visible signs of progress. Experts, familiar with the processes that breed results, trust in their work.
Progress is the result of smart, hard work. Put in the work, and get the reward.
With a little faith, and some elbow grease, your efforts will be met with success.