Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · 31 January 2021
By: John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader
Tomorrow is the first day of 2021. A New Year! A chance to begin again, to start over, to turn over a new leaf. Most of us can't wait to say "goodbye" to 2020 and put this pandemic behind us, and as I'm talking to people they're already telling me about their resolutions for the coming year.
A friend of mine is a gym owner, and he loves it when January 1 rolls around. His business is flooded with new members, all eager to lose 20, 30, or even 50 pounds and get in the best shape of their lives. And for the first few weeks, they're in the gym at least 3-4 days a week sweating away the pounds they've added over the previous year(s).
By mid-February, the crowd starts to thin out and you no longer have to wait in line to get on the equipment. All those well-meaning, well-intended souls who wanted to "start over" in the New Year are mostly gone - and only those who are committed to a daily routine of becoming a better version of themselves remain.
Starting over is only a start...that's it!
For the most part, it's easy. Way too easy. That's the problem. It's too easy to simply start over. Whether it is your decision to stop smoking, quit drinking sodas, stop eating fast food, drink more water, go to the gym, or start taking the dog for a daily walk - it's easy to start.
Starting over is only a start...but it's easy to quit.
Like my friend, the gym owner, or the folks down the street from my office who own and operate a health food store, January is a time when people flock to these establishments with the best of intentions. This is the year I finally get back to "X". We have probably all made a statement like that.
Motivation gets you started, but it won't keep you going. It takes dedication and persistence to see the process to completion - and then even more persistence to keep doing what got you there so you don't fall back into old habitual ways of thinking and acting. It takes an act of sheer determination to continue to do what you know you should be doing, no matter what.
Starting over is easy...persistence requires an act of your will.
Personal growth and development is no different. Many people will jump on Amazon and buy my book, or someone else's book on leadership, personal growth, self-improvement, or time management and excitedly read the first few pages. But like most people, books are seldom, if ever, read from cover to cover - and almost never read more than once.
I was talking this week with a retired football coach, now a financial success coach, who had a very successful career. His teams always played at a high level because they never stopped training, learning, and improving. Daily he would tell his players, "Training is something you do, not something you've done."
I love that statement. Training is something you DO (daily). If you're still celebrating the wins of the past, you're not winning today. If you're still telling stories of what you accomplished 2, 5, or 10 years ago, you're not accomplishing much of anything today.
Starting over is important, as nothing changes until something changes. But if there is no persistence, no dedication, and no commitment to stay the course no matter what, starting over becomes a short-term blip on the radar of those who choose to live a mediocre life.
You feel fresh and energized when you get to the starting line and prepare to run a marathon. After a few miles into the race, you hit the proverbial wall. It takes a sheer act of your will to keep moving forward in pursuit of your goal. And even after you cross the finish line, you've only got a short time to rest before you're off to run the next one.
Leaders develop daily, not in a day.
I've heard my mentor, John Maxwell, joke that most people have uphill ambitions but downhill habits. Yet everything worthwhile is an uphill journey. Starting up the hill of self-improvement is easy, sticking to the climb is more difficult.
It's far too easy to climb for a season, reach a plateau and stop, or like most people, simply turn around and start over, going back down the mountain. That's why professional climbers summit great heights with a guide - someone who's conquered the mountain again and again - and is willing to share their experience, wisdom, and insight, and provide them expert guidance and with an accountability partner on the journey.
Remember, starting is easy. Anyone can do that, and most people do - only to fail again.
Persistence requires an act of your will. That's where real change takes place.
So as you make your resolutions for the New Year, remember this:
- Starting is easy, anyone can do that. But you have to start to begin.
- Motivation gets you going, but persistence keeps you moving forward.
- There is no finish line in the pursuit to become a better version of yourself.
The journey's always easier when you're not taking it alone. Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their mutual labor. Perhaps this is the year you decide to invest in yourself and hire a coach or a mentor - someone who can help you get where you want to go, hold you accountable on the journey, and cheer you on when the going gets tough.
From all of us at Black Belt Leadership, we wish for you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year! If you're starting over, start over well, stay the course, and focus on becoming a better version of yourself every day.
And even if you're not starting over, you can still focus on becoming a better version of YOU than the day before - and if you do that every day, you'll never stop growing, learning, and improving. That's what Black Belt Leaders in Life do.
Choose daily to be a Black Belt Leader, and live life with Black Belt Excellence!
Happy New Year!