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A Millimeter of Progress or a Mile?


It seems like many of the thought leaders and authors I speak with are pulled in a million directions and have made a millimeter of progress in each. There’s also a group of them that have made a mile of progress in just a few. I’ve spent some time thinking about the differences in these groups from a strategic, behavioral and a results perspective.

Let’s take a look at the first group: They’re crazy busy – two book deals, speaking to large groups across the country or globe multiple times a month, they’ve got lots of projects “in the works” are trying as hard as they can to get their message out to the largest audience possible. They also tend to be exhausted, frenetic and somewhat frustrated with results.

The second group is also busy but they justify almost everything they do because it clearly is aligned to their strategic plan. They aren’t nearly as frenetic and they can easily prioritize opportunities that arise and implement what they’ve made a commitment to do.

So what are the differences between the two?

1) Strategy

While both groups may have a strategy, typically the first group either doesn’t or does not have the discipline or appropriate resources to execute on it. Opportunities arise almost daily to do all kinds of interesting and exciting things with their content and they don’t properly prioritize all of the options that come their way.

The second group may appear to be slow moving but they have the clarity and commitment they need to follow through on a strategy that they’ve invested in and believe in. Changes to that strategy can be made, but the reasons for doing so, as well as an understanding of the opportunity cost of making refinements, are well thought out.

2) Behavior

The first group may be more of the creative type, be less disciplined or let their eagerness get the best of them. They want to conquer the world…yesterday. They’re a bit overwhelmed with all of the options and possibilities and tend to say yes too quickly.

The second group is more patient and focused. They’ve got clearly defined objectives and see the path to achieving them and realize the true costs of short cuts and detours. They may have even delegated the overall direction of the organization to someone better suited than themselves and have confidence in those working with them.

3) Results

The first group tends to constantly achieve results but they tend to be results they didn’t plan for and some to them through luck, fate and timing. They also do not tend to be sustainable, viable and replicable. They don’t take the time to understand what they should be doing more of and less of and why they’ve achieved some level of success in some aspects of their business while other areas flounder or fail.

The second group tends to achieve smaller doses of success BUT they build on them and leverage them into big wins.

I don’t think anyone wakes up one day and decides they want to make a millimeter of progress in a million directions but I do believe some people do focus on making a mile of progress on a few initiatives and have the patience, discipline and focus to go down that path. There are very few “overnight” successes in the world of thought leaders and many have had a chance to taste success only to watch it evaporate quickly. It’s an uber-competitive space and you need a strategy in place to help you know when to say yes, when to say no and when to continue to push for the results you’ve set out to accomplish without getting distracted along the way.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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