I recently spent a couple of days with friends in Atlanta who have a three-month-old daughter, their first child. My visit coincided with the Super Bowl, and I remarked that this would be Brooke’s first Super Bowl. Her father, Nick, replied, “Every day is her first something.”
In children, we celebrate progress. We applaud them, hug them, kiss them, congratulate them, and reward them for the tiniest advances. This atmosphere of encouragement plays a huge role in the rapid progress children make in the early months and years of their lives.
Just because we are adults, we shouldn’t stop celebrating progress. Progress is a reward in itself. I am happier when I am making progress. See if the same isn’t true for you. Observe yourself. Study the areas that you are making progress in. Look back at times in your life when you have made progress in an area of your life. How did you feel about yourself, about life, and about your future?
Our capacity for improvement is unfathomable. Whether it is professionally or personally, in the area of health and well-being, personal finances, relationships, diet and exercise, or character and spirituality, we have an extraordinary ability to improve. But to improve, we need to know ourselves very well. We need to be able to look beyond our obvious strengths and weaknesses and see our subtle tendencies. We need to be able to detect when we are lying to ourselves, when we could give more than we are giving, and when we are truly heading down the wrong path.
Over the years as I have studied many different forms and expressions of spirituality. One of the few things I have become absolutely convinced of is that some type of daily examination is one of the fastest ways to growth. Those who have taken spiritual development most seriously for thousands of years have employed this simple exercise
not to measure perfection but to gauge progress. It is for this reason and around this principle that I designed The Prayer Process. This spiritual exercise leads to a deeply intimate conversation with God about our talents and abilities, our hopes and dreams, our
fears and failures, our potential, and the love we have for those closest to us.
There are dozens of different forms of this exercise, but in essence it comes down to taking a few moments at the end of each day to ask the question “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”
The answer to this question raises more questions: “What areas of my life do I need to improve?” “What areas of my life do I need to give more attention to?” “What behaviors are preventing me from making progress toward the-best-version-of-myself?”
Who you are today is only a shadow of who you are capable of being. It is our potential that most excites and frustrates us.
Baby steps are the secret. Small victories lead to large victories. The injured athlete has to take baby steps. During rehabilitation, trainers teach recovering superstars to celebrate small victories, just as a parent teaches a child to celebrate even the smallest advance. Let’s start to pay attention to the question “Am I making progress?”
Are you making progress? As I said earlier, if you have to think about it, then you probably are not paying attention.
From Perfectly Yourself
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