Personal development

Progress Makes Perfect – How to Move Forward Without Taking 2 Steps Back

Part of the reason why you're taking two steps back is that you're not really taking a step forward. You're taking a step forward in your brain and your ideas, but you're not really giving yourself something to work with.

It’s Courtney Sanders here with another episode of The Courtney Sanders Show. And today we are talking about progress. Basically, progress makes perfect, practice makes perfect, but progress makes perfect. If you are willing to move in the direction that you ultimately want to go, over time you will find yourself where you want to be. And so the subtitle for this episode is how to take one step forward without taking two steps back. Because that was actually something I heard a lot in a survey that I did. I think it was around the beginning of the year with my audience where I was just letting them know I’m  changing my business up, which, I’ve talked about extensively on the podcast and I just wanted to get a good gauge of what types of topics they were interested in, what they wanted to learn from me.

I actually got on the phone with a lot of people who were willing to leave their phone numbers on the survey and one person, in particular, said she just feels like she don’t understand how she can take one step forward in one area of her  life, but then somewhere else takes two steps back . She just wants to stop feeling that way. And I could really relate to that. I know a lot of women relate to that and based on where I’m at now, I feel like I’m making headway in terms of that no longer being my story, which is really awesome. So you guys know, once I find something that works for me or I discover something, I just want to share it with you.

Two things really have brought that up. So first was the survey that I did. Second, honestly, has been watching my son. So as I record this, my son is 13, going on 14 months. He is walking now and he’s walking like full speed. He was doing the wobbly Frankenstein walk and he’s still kind of wobbly. He has an ear infection unfortunately right now. So that’s why he’s like extra wobbly. But it’s just been amazing to watch him because, to be honest, he was a late a crawler, not, he wasn’t late. Well, I’d take that back. He crawled within the range of when babies are supposed to crawl. My husband was freaking out though. He wants this child to be the best at everything and like ahead of the curve on every single test or whatever and the baby’s just big.

He’s really tall. We were reading that taller babies take a little longer to crawl. He didn’t start crawling until he was around like 10 and a half, 11 months. it was really interesting to watch that slow movement where he finally started crawling about 10 and a half months, and then he crawled for a not really long time, but he crawled right until before his first birthday. So I said he’d crawl until about 11 and a half months.

Then he was able to stand on his own and he was like cruising the whole house, cruising all over couches and everything, and then he started to feel more confident to take those steps. And so it’s just funny now because again, the kid is only 13 months.

Isn’t it interesting how kids and babies instinctively understand how this thing works? But, adults don’t. And so we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect from the outset that I think it actually really hinders our ability to make progress.

Listen to the podcast for the full story.

Notes from the Podcast:

Tips to move forward without taking a step back:

1.    Be okay with being consistently inconsistent.

I actually learned this incidentally enough with this podcast. If you’ve been following me for a while, I’ve done this podcast since 2015 but I was super on and off with it. It was never regular. I just did it whenever I’m inspired.

That was fine with me because my podcast wasn’t like my main thing. But as I started restructuring things in my business I talked about my business model in the previous episode of Story of a Black Girl and Her Money. The podcasts became more and more important and not just even from a revenue standpoint in terms of like, oh, I have sponsors now or anything like that. But more so from marketing and people would tell me on the street that they follow me on Instagram or whatever. They’d all say, I love your podcast. And that’s crazy to me. Even now to this day, because I’m like, guys, all I do is just talk on the microphone.

I just rant about random topics. Sometimes I have interviews, but you know, this podcast is not fancy. It’s just me sharing my insight. I consistently saw that was the one piece of content that I’d put out on a consistent basis. And people were just always like, dude, I love your podcast. When we moved to Houston, which was in like October, beginning of November, that’s when  I want to be more consistent with the podcast now.

I had everything going against me, right. We had just moved to a new city. We were in corporate housing, rent an apartment. I had this baby that he’s still like all over the place, especially back when he was about 10 months.  I had everything against me that should have said you cannot do this podcast on a consistent basis. And the truth was I couldn’t, but I ultimately want it to get consistent. And so I allowed myself to be consistently inconsistent in that direction if that makes sense. So once we got to Houston, I’m going to set a goal to release a podcast every single week. And I think I start from the end of October, beginning of November, I feel like I’ve, for the most part, done that.

I was joining the studio at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning while the baby was sleep. Cause I knew he was gonna wake up at 5:00 AM and then I wouldn’t have any time for the rest of the day. But I just made one goal, to release a podcast once a week.

Once we moved into our house, I wanted to release the podcast on the same day every week? And that was a struggle. Like my goal is always to release this podcast on Tuesday mornings. I kept being consistently inconsistent and that’s the thing, sometimes we want to be so perfect and we wouldn’t be so consistent on the outset that we don’t allow ourselves room to kind of figure it out.

We need to be the same way with our goals. We create a goal and we think that we’re just supposed to like wake up and instantly be like flawless in our execution of it. And that’s not how it is. This podcast is a perfect example of that.

I’m being consistent, but I’m still being inconsistent. I’m being consistently inconsistent.

2.    You have to give yourself something to work with.

So I only came up with the idea to come to a studio and to batch this because I was trying, you know, the best way I knew how to get the podcast to be consistent with the resources and the tools that I had. So many people will not even start, they won’t do any work. They won’t put anything out because I already know I don’t have, the resources are not going to be perfect. And so they try to sit on the sidelines and try to brainstorm ways to be flawless in their execution before they even start. Not realizing that the ideas for how you operate at a higher level only happen when you’re actually in the game and you’re actually doing it.

Houston has everything, but it didn’t even dawn on me to even research this because at the time I didn’t have a need. Why did I not have a need? Because I wasn’t even doing the work. I was just kind of coming up with podcast whenever I felt like it. And so, yeah I wasn’t giving myself something to work with.

So it’s the same thing with you, whether it’s something in your career, whether it’s something in your business, your personal life, your finances,  are you so stuck on being perfect from the outset and you’re trying to optimize an idea that you’re not even putting yourself out there. You have to take action. If you take nothing else from this podcast episode today, stop sitting on the sidelines trying to optimize an idea like seriously, you can’t optimize ideas.

You can only optimize actions. Take action, whatever it is that you want to improve, whatever it is that you’re saying you wanted to make progress on, you don’t want to take two steps back. Part of the reason why you’re taking two steps back is that you’re not really taking a step forward. You’re taking a step forward in your brain and your ideas, but you’re not really giving yourself something to work with.

3.    Do not despise small beginnings.

It’s actually a bible verse. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to look that up. So in the previous podcast, I talked about how I’m rebuilding so many of my offerings and my training from the ground up because finally, all I had was a lot of business training and now that my brand talks about the whole woman and is kind of like more of a multifaceted approach.

There are lots of different training that I felt like I need in order to have a well- rounded portfolio. And so I’m working on all these different products, but then with that, I live a no launch lifestyle, which I explained more in detail, but generally I just gave up on like I don’t really believe in launches. I’m in business again. I listened to the other previous episode where I explain why that is. And I say this as someone who was highly successful in launches and was used to doing a launch and generating 40, 50, $60,000 off of like whatever it was that I was sewing just from like doing all this work and creating all this fanfare and all this Hoopla.

And so to be in the mindset that I’m at now where I’m like, nope, I’m just creating things. I’m putting it out there, I’m telling it to people, I’m sharing it with people on my list or in my audience that I think would be interested in it and I’m just allowing them to buy or not buy. And then I’m going behind the scenes and automating it and putting a little traffic behind it just so that it sells on autopilot because I want more of a slow burn business, still profitable business, but I’m no longer seeking  the big $60,000 launch at the outset, but then selling $0 million for the rest of the year. I’d much rather sell less amount but sell it daily, consistently so that it makes more over time because that’s how real businesses operate.

And I was someone who made progress and took 10 steps back, right? I’ve talked about in previous episodes, how I made $300,000 in one year. It had all these crazy expenses and didn’t even pay myself six figures because I just had all my priorities backwards.

You don’t want to get caught up in your ego and comparing the progress you’re making to the progress that you made in the past because maybe the progress you made in the past is w and I say progress in air quotes that you made in the past is what got you in this mess to begin with. You have to be okay with when you are focused and you know what you’re doing and you have a goal and you have the vision and you’re moving that direction.

You have to be willing to start small and be really appreciative of what that is.

When you despise small beginnings, you despise the great growth. They’re small beginnings ultimately contribute to. And so I just find that when we’re in our head and we’re despising small beginnings really is about ego and particularly in the business arena, this really drives me crazy because I see people who are brand new used to drive me crazy, especially when I was coaching clients.  I see people who are brand new in the industry hadn’t even like narrowed down their target market per se, hadn’t even confirmed their product idea was something good that people actually wanted to offer, but they got in their heads they were going to do a webinar and host their first sale and they host the Webinar.

They had no audience but they put it out there and 10 people showed up on the Webinar and one or two people buy their program. I’ve had people who were legit upset,  wanted to make at least a thousand dollars. Nobody showed up, only had 10 people come up and only two people bought. What are you crazy? You are brand new at this. No one knows who you are. And 10 human beings gave you an hour of their life and you’re a stranger and they just saw you on the Internet and they gave you an hour of their life for you to contribute and share your message. And not only did they give you an hour of their life, they then took out their credit card and purchase what you had to offer. And you have the audacity to be upset about that because you got it in your head that you wanted to make at least a thousand dollars because you saw somebody on Instagram who’s been doing this way longer than you get those results.

We have to stop despising small beginnings because that’s where greatness grows. Eric Thomas, the hip hop preacher, whatever his story and started with these small humble beginnings of being willing to speak to students either for free.  

And so part of the reason why you might be taking one step forward and then find yourself taking two steps back is that you’re not willing to be cool with where you’re starting. Like, be cool with where you’re starting. Be Cool with the starting block.

4.    Be okay not being good in the beginning.

Everyone was not good at whatever it is that they did in the beginning. So you’re poor before you’re good. Well, you’re poor before you’re okay and you’re okay before you’re good and you’re good before you’re great and you’re great before you’re excellent. And so everybody just wants to jump straight into excellent, but they’re not willing to kind of suck in the beginning. They’re not willing to be terrible. Go on google Wayback Machine. This is like one of my favorite activities ever. So the way Wayback Machine is like this part of the Internet archiving project and basically you can pull up, the Internet was able to like archive images of these particular webpages, you can pull up like old websites from people who have been around for a really long time, been online for a long time and see what their original websites look like.

You know my former brand names so you can look up that URL and see what that original website look like. Omg. It was a Blogspot that I had built myself in college. It was not the website that I have today. I’m 30, the first website I built when I was on my own was 19, 20. So yeah, we’re talking 10 years here. I’ve been online for 10 years and I’m just now getting to a place where my website looks the way it does now. And if you don’t believe me again, go look at my previous websites. You could pull it up on Wayback Machine.

To this day, I’m not the best photographer out. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I’ve only gotten a lot better because I was willing to suck in the beginning. My initial graphics were not good. I designed my own graphics before I was able to hire a VA and even after I hired a VA, I had to coach her up in my style. People messaged me all the time, they’re like, your graphic designer is really good.

She is really good and she’s really talented. But part of the reason why she was able to do a lot of the work that she does for me now is that I, I suffered through her not doing the designs the way I wanted them to. You have to be willing to not be good in the beginning. And so this reminds me of this quote,” Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone told me, all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.”

5.    Give it enough time.

I have been online since 2009. I wouldn’t even say I’m this big success or anything, but if you want to classify me as an overnight success, I am definitely not that. I’ve been doing this for well over a decade. So you have to ask yourself, are you willing to do this for however long it takes until it takes.

And I think the main thing is, part of the reason why people quit early with and why they fail to make progress is because they’re not really in it for true or genuine reasons. They’re not really in the business because they feel it’s their mission and they really want to contribute to their audience or to the marketplace.

They’re just in it because they want to look good. They’re just trying to start a business because they hate their job and they want to make money. They’re not in it for real, true, authentic reasons. They’re in it for superficial things that they’ve seen on Instagram. And so when the going gets tough and it’s inevitably going to get tough and you’re quitting because it’s taking too long, that just shows you that you weren’t really in it for the right reasons, to begin with.

Best believe if I was still working my full-time job, I would still be trying to get speaking engagements on the weekend. I would still be recording my podcast. I would still be posting on Instagram. I would still be having my website. I would still be doing all this work. Why? Because it’s not about success per se, as much as it’s about I feel called to do this. And so much of what I talk about on this podcast and everything in my brand really goes back to following your calling. But it’s true if you’re really in this because this is your purpose, where do you get off thinking that you even have the option to quit because it’s taking too long.

If your purpose to do this is literally of God created you to do a specific activity, you don’t get to decide when you want to quit. You don’t get to say, I’m done because this isn’t moving on my timeline. You keep doing what you’re called to do because you’re called to do it.

This is what progress looks like. This is what progress looks like. And I think in our picture, perfectly- Instagrammed world, we’ve forgotten what progress looks like.

It’s not perfect, not polished and pretty all throughout. It’s rough around the edges at a time. The polishing happens at the end of the process. We know this as any sculpture or sculptor or artists, the polishing, the refining, that’s always the last part, the majority of the work. And so if you are not to do the rough part, you will always be one of those people who talk about wanting to make progress and join a little something and taking a step forward but then taking two steps back.

That’s what I got for you. Be okay with being consistently inconsistent. Give yourself something to work with. Do not despise small beginnings. Be okay with not being very good in the beginning and give it time. Give it time and focus on walking in your calling. That’s like a bonus one. So yeah, that’s all I got for you with today’s episode. And I will see you in the next episode. Bye.

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