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Success is a Sine Wave

It takes a lot of stamina to build and maintain long term success. Human beings like quick wins because we like to feel the thrill of victory, and if we sense even the hint of failure, we can find myriad reasons why we should quit before we fall flat on our faces completely. We're all just trying not to look stupid. I get it, I don't want to look stupid, either. But I've taken that risk countless times.

It doesn't help that, when we strike out on a new venture, whether that's a business or in our careers, there are some people around us that just can't wait to tell us that we're making a big mistake. Often it's people that we're really surprised and disappointed aren't our biggest cheerleaders. It hurts. It takes a lot of backbone to decide we're not going to listen, and we're going to try it anyway. I'm here for you, and I am with you, because I've been there, too.

You should not expect, though, to launch your exciting new project and have a line out the door to buy, invest or use whatever it is you're peddling. There is a lot of ground work that goes into making success happen, and it's not a graph that looks like a forward slash ( / ). It looks like a sine curve, that wavy chart above.

You'll have moments where things are going quite slow, and you feel that creeping sense of dread that you've made a huge mistake. You'll pore over your bank account and start doing frantic math to figure out how long you're going to be able to last if things continue this way. This is where my gentle, reassuring voice comes in to tell you, "Relax. It's okay. The majority of people go through the same thing at this stage. This is where you turn that dread into motivation, because you must not lose. Plan your work, and work that plan."

On the other hand, you'll have moments at the top end of the sine curve, where things are going phenomenally well. You'll have a surge of customers, sales will be humming along. You'll beat your prior month's profits. You'll think to yourself that you've finally made it, and things can only get better from there. That's when I'll put on my stern voice will come in, and I'll tell you, "I'm so excited for you! But you must not rest on your laurels. You want to turn this success into momentum, so you can't pause for a break. If anything, you have to work all the harder now. Keep the pedal to the metal on your plan, act as if you are just as hungry as you were in that last paragraph, because this doesn't have to last."

What you want to make sure to measure is your average over time. This can be true of many things: your child's success in potty training (my life right now), how far you can run, your weight. Don't just take one measurement at one time and see if you're happy with it. Take a few measurements over a period of time and see what the trend looks like. Are you trending in a direction you're pleased with?

I've often quoted Tommy Boy (yes, Tommy Boy! I grew up in the 90's, don't make fun of me) to my clients by giving Big Tom's advice to them: you're either growing or you're dying - there ain't no third direction. There is a lag time both in growth and decay that can be easy to miss if you stagnate in your actions and wait and see what happens. My preference has been to take a lean-forward posture, and it has served me well. I have been aggressive in approaching both my business and my career, and it has benefitted me. I still experience the sine wave, but my overall trend has been for growth. If that is what you want for yourself, I highly recommend you do the same. Act as if you must always push ahead, and you will always be chasing for higher and better.

Now, I'd love to hear from you. What's your posture? Have you felt the sine wave? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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