The 365 Commitment

Day 193 – Law of Conditional Progression

Anyone who has ever played a video game understands conditional progression. This is the concept that you cannot advance in a game until certain conditions are met. Once the conditions have been achieved, you are allowed to progress. When you learn how to develop software, one of the most basic algorithms you learn is conditional programming, essentially using if, elif, and else type statements to set conditional progress. This concept of meeting conditions for progress is not foreign to us but is a key to understanding a critical consideration for forward progress.

It is absolutely true that progress, no matter how small, is good. Consistent forward progress in a business is always desirable. Days, weeks, and months of no progress are dangerous because they create a stagnant and listless culture, and people become disheartened. So, we become tuned to the idea that all progress is good progress.

This concept is true under one important condition. The progress must be focused. If the organization is not focused on a single direction, then all the small progressions may actually be working against each other or progressing in different directions and not really getting anywhere. I will illustrate using an example. Pretend that you are on a large circular ship floating in space. Each crew member has a method of providing a small amount of thrust using air tanks. You would like to head in a direction to get back to your base station. Now, if each person on the crew starts providing thrust in different directions, then you will effectively go nowhere, spinning with no determined direction. You would want all of your crew to go to the opposite end of the ship and provide the thrust in one direction, which would force the ship to head in the correct direction. This would be the logical thing to do.

That makes a lot of sense, using that analogy. If we were adrift in space, we certainly would not want to provide thrust in a bunch of different directions. We would want all thrust to go in the same direction. Simple right? Unfortunately, many organizations that are struggling with no forward momentum do the exact opposite. They provide thrust in many different directions, hoping that something will work. They end up spinning with no forward progress because this one condition of progress is not met – focus.

Focusing on a single direction, even if the direction is slightly wrong, will be infinitely better than a bunch of effort in a different direction. This is a painfully obvious observation to anyone on the outside of the situation. If we were all to be looking at the spacecraft, we would see it spinning and going nowhere and wonder why the captain didn’t put all of the force in one single direction.

So, all progress is good progress as long as it is focused on one direction. This is the law of conditional progression. You cannot achieve your objective unless you are singularly focused in one direction. If you get distracted by a myriad of ideas, then you will not make progress. You will spin or waste energy drifting off course.

The reason that you must focus or stay focused in a consistent direction is so that all of your daily, weekly, and monthly efforts will make progress. Not being focused causes efforts to be wasted by not heading in the right direction but potentially even heading in the wrong direction.

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