Don’t Confuse Motion with Progress

Maximized Leadership: Don’t Confuse Motion with Progress

Have you ever had opportunity to get on a stationary bike for exercise? The actions taken by your legs replicate what you would do if riding a bicycle outdoors and the exertion is certainly a good way to improve your physical condition. However, the stationary bike cannot help you get anywhere. While the motion made by your legs is similar you will find yourself in the same place once your workout is complete. It is a good illustration of the difference between motion and progress.

I once heard a leadership talk that contrasted these two actions. I want to borrow that concept and make a few observations and comments that can strengthen your leadership. Have you ever thought about the difference between these two forms of movement? Both motion and progress require movement but motion will not necessarily get you to your preferred destination. Yogi Berra once commented upon getting lost on the way to an engagement that “we were lost but we were making good time.” The key need of any organization is ultimately progress. However, employees can sometimes substitute motion for progress and fool themselves and others into thinking that they are being effective when they are not. As a church leader I often see this in congregations. Many churches have a lot going on with activities but are in decline and are not making disciples. I have observed employees who always appear busy but never seem to produce substantial results. How about you and the organization that you serve, the place you work, or the church you attend? Are you in motion or are you making progress? How about you personally?

Progress requires objectives, goals, or outcomes that you are seeking to move toward. These would equate to a destination if you were taking a trip on a bicycle. The stationary bike can replicate the motion of riding a bike but will not get you to the destination. The bicycle has the capacity to get you to the destination but will not do so if you do not pedal, steer, and just as importantly, move in the appropriate direction. Be sure to identify objectives before determining activities (how you will spend your time and energy). Otherwise you will be in motion and may confuse the activity (motion) with progress. Once you determine your objective(s) make plans that move you in that direction and consistently evaluate your progress. Take a few moments to think about your job, your leadership role, or the organization you serve. Which best characterizes your leadership? A person in motion or a leader making progress?