Chapter 7: Progress
A few days later she discussed her coaching with her friend Alicia. Scarlett knew she was beginning to move forward, but was feeling so much regret for how little time she had been investing in people in and outside of work. She felt like she had missed so many opportunities for developing strong relationships in the past. She was starting to wonder if she had been messing up her life until this point, and asked Alicia if she thought so.
“You know, take everything Jack says with a grain of salt,” she said. “You’re a great person.”
Scarlett appreciated the reassurance.
“But you do have to be more open,” Alicia continued. “I’ve been telling you for years that you push people away, especially men who try to get too close. You have a pattern of breaking things off when the guy wants to start getting serious by finding something wrong with him.”
Scarlett knew she was right.
“I’m not going to say I’m not guarded,” she said. “And while it has been nice to begin to get to know people at work, I still have the tendency to just want to go to my own office and get my work done instead of interacting with them. I know I have to keep trying, but it definitely takes a lot of effort. It doesn’t come naturally to me.”
“It takes time so giver yourself some credit. I think you’re doing great,” Alicia said. “And you haven’t written off Lee yet.” She paused. “Or have you?”
“Well, not really,” Scarlett said. “He called a couple of times, but I haven’t called him back. I’ll do that tonight.”
“Good for you,” Alicia said. “Maybe you will meet both your professional and personal goals by working with Jack!”
“I hope so,” Scarlett replied with a smile. “Thanks, Alicia.”
She called Lee that evening and apologized for the delay in getting back to him. She told him about her progress at work and thanked him again for the conversation that they had the first time they went out. He said he was really happy to hear about her progress and added that he looked forward to learning more about it then when they got together next.
After a productive day at work the next day she got ready to leave early (as part of her plan to start adding a bit more balance to her life) because that night she had a date with Lee. Lee was right on time to pick her up. He handed her a bouquet of flowers and gave her a hug when she opened the door. Scarlett could feel herself blushing.
“Thank you! That was very thoughtful of you,” she said. “Let me put these in some water.” She walked to the kitchen with Lee following her. “How was your drive?” she asked.
“It was easy,” he said. “You look lovely by the way. It’s so nice to see you again,” he said as he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
She blushed and said, “I’m glad to see you, too.”
They looked at each other and smiled. “Shall we go?” Scarlett asked.
At the restaurant, Scarlett caught Lee up on her progress with Jack. “You don’t know how much I took our conversation to heart last time,” Scarlett said. “I had already been working with Jack, so I brought up some of what we spoke about with him and have incorporated more of the relationship work into it. I’ve had a few sessions, and it is unbelievable how helpful it has been. I can’t thank you enough for telling me about your journey so that I could realize that there was a different way.”
“Wow, I am so glad to hear that. What have you discovered so far?”
“Well, I have realized that I want to not only work on my work relationships, but my personal ones, too. A real relationship is important to me, and I don’t want to leave that by the wayside by just being solely focused on my pursuit to be partner.”
Lee was smiling at her. “What?” she asked.
“It’s just that I can see how excited you are about these sessions and that you’re actually learning something in the process. Some people would see this as a punishment or obligation, but you’re really seeing it as the opportunity it is. That’s great. And I’m so glad that sharing my experiences was helpful in getting you started. It sounds like you’re doing great work!”
Lee smiled broadly.
“Cheers,” Scarlett said as she lifted her glass of wine, “to lots of positive changes in the near future.”
Scarlett and Lee were out until midnight. Once they reached her home, Lee gave her a hug and a tender kiss. Scarlett’s heart was beating out of her chest. She was so happy that Lee was turning out to be such a nice guy. She had such a great time with him at dinner talking; they could talk for hours without either looking at a watch. In fact, she didn’t know how five hours had passed by so quickly and easily.
A Guest Review of "The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work" by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
By Andrew Moses, MorganFranklin Corporation
For my inaugural "guest blog" on Monica Thakrar Inc.'s website, I have chosen to review "The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work." The book, just released in July, shares groundbreaking research on what truly separates successful leaders from the masses. Through the years, countless leadership and management books have attempted to provide the answer, but few authors have done so in such a tactical manner as Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.
According to the authors, the answer to the age-old question of what separates successful leaders from the masses is that they are able to foster great "inner work lives" for each of their employees. More specifically, Amabile and Kramer have concluded that the ability to create "conditions that foster positive emotions, strong internal motivation, and favorable perceptions of colleagues and the work itself" is the key to successful leadership.
Are you currently doing things to create great "inner work lives" for your employees? What can you do as a leader to promote more positive "inner work lives" for those on your teams? Fortunately, Amabile and Kramer have more answers.
Leveraging their collection and analysis of 12,000 diary entries written by 238 employees across seven companies, the authors have concluded that the most important ingredient in motivating people is the facilitation of progress—even small wins.
The results of this study are extremely relevant to any leader. The research indicates that as a leader, the first thing you should do each day is identify what you need to do to facilitate your team's progress. But how can this be accomplished? Fortunately, Amabile and Kramer have provided a roadmap here as well. The authors cite "small wins, breakthroughs, forward movement, and goal completion" as keys to progress.
As a leader, are you actively working to facilitate your team's progress each day? Are you designing your team's projects with the achievement of progress and interim successes in mind? For example, do you start with the low-hanging fruit and set up measurable and attainable checkpoints along the way, or do you simply ask the team to set out with one end result in mind? If you already have a project underway, it's not too late to bring the team together and set forth some interim milestones. If you are starting a new project, the most important factor in your success will be designing the project to facilitate and continuously achieve progress. Once projects are underway, as a leader, you should work to establish a strong affiliation/connection between the team and the interim milestones and end result. Track and celebrate small achievements along the way, even as you work to attain larger goals.
Leading to facilitate progress may require that you entirely rethink the way you lead. But rest assured that you don't need to undergo a transformational change overnight to begin managing to facilitate progress. To get started, think of one thing you can do today or tomorrow as a leader to facilitate progress. By doing just one small thing to facilitate your progress as a leader, you will go a long way toward achieving your own success and your team’s success. That's the "progress principle."
This "Guest Blog Entry" was written by Andrew Moses, a Senior Associate in MorganFranklin’s Financial Management and Performance Improvement practice. For more information on MorganFranklin, visit www.morganfranklin.com.
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.