If you deny feedback and fail to measure progress, you shut down the growth process. So measure your progress, from the ideal to where you are. If you measure progress from where you started to where you are now, you tend to get stuck.

Suppose that you need to lose 30 pounds. When you step on the scale, you see that you lost two pounds. You feel so good about yourself, you’re so proud of yourself, you quit the diet.

How do you sustain your motivation? You don’t do it by measuring from where you started to where you are. “My, you’ve come a long way. You’ve done well for you.” You’ll hear people say, “Aren’t you proud of yourself? Look at how far you’ve come in the business. Look at how far you’ve grown.”

If you measure from where you started to where you are, you kill the drive to go forward. But if you measure from the ideal that you have in your mind to where you are presently, you won’t care so much where you started, because you still feel that tension, the drive to go forward.

career success

A teleological mechanism, like a missile, doesn’t care where it was launched it only measures from where it is at the present moment to where it needs to be, the goal or target. It doesn’t say, “My, I’ve come a long way! I’m so proud of myself.”

If you measure from the ideal to where you presently are, when you run into an old friend who says, “My, look what you’ve done; you’ve done well for you. Why do you keep going?” you won’t lose the drive to go forward. You won’t get caught in that trap. You might say, “I’ve done well so far, but I still have a long way to go.”

When you think about times when you tried but failed, or started but never finished, analyze why for a moment, without beating yourself. When you think of where you tripped, think, “What will I do next time to correct course? Think of mistakes as part of life. Growth is a process of correction, of keeping yourself on the beam, of keeping yourself moving forward.

When you achieve one goal, think what that next goal will be. See through the fog between you and your goal, and get clear about what you can do to move forward. Without clarity, you either won’t move forward or you’ll move forward in a different direction. For example, it’s easy to focus on money and things, rather than on purposes and ideals. Often in the process of reaching a goal, in the middle of the journey, you lose the clear picture, and have to fight to get it back. You may start with the motive of helping people grow, but you lose sight of that and think, “I’m here to make money.”

Remember the story of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy. On his way to school, he got sidetracked to the circus, something that was more enticing, more immediate, and more entertaining. The detour almost cost him his life and the life of his father.

You experience the Pinocchio syndrome whenever you have an idea or an ideal, but you get off track. Your idea or vision isn’t strong enough. Somebody comes up with what seems at the time to be a better suggestion. So you start listening. You tune into the rap, and you get into some crap. Soon you find yourself way off course. Why? You move toward what you think about. If you don’t have a strong, compelling goal and purpose in front of you, you’ll move toward whatever you’re thinking about or whatever is being suggested to you and wonder why your life is wasted. From unclear visions, vague goals, and bad attitudes come bad habits and poor results. Your vision and mission will keep your motivation and direction in line.