There’s a Japanese word that has become synonymous with continuous improvement.
It’s a term used to define small, daily improvements. The 1% daily improvement. The compounding effect of such improvements.
It’s a wonderful dream to aspire towards daily improvements. Most of your days should and can be about small, constant, improvement.
There are days when that’s just not possible.
Maybe it’s because of failure or setback, but I find it’s rarely the case. Mostly, it’s because of lack of success.
The daily failure.
Maybe your online store isn’t selling enough products, maybe your content isn’t consumed or appreciated.
It’s not the spectacular failure or rejection that breaks most people, but rather a constant lack of success, of something worthy of celebration.
During those days, the best thing you can do is to simply go through the motions. Yeah, I know you don’t feel like it. And I know you’re sure that nothing good will come of it, but the trick is to do whatever it takes to keep going.
That’s all it takes. If you don’t give up, that’s the kind of success you can be proud of, because that’s exactly when most people quit.
When you feel like throwing in the towel, imagine that almost everyone else but those you admire most quit.
Now, do you want to be like everyone else or do you want to be like those you admire?
Sometimes a Marathon, Sometimes a Sprint
What makes success so difficult to obtain is the fact that it requires that we treat it like a marathon. Tired cliche, I know. But it’s true.
Also, there are moments when we must sprint. When we figure out a way that works, when we are growing, when we are developing proper skills.
The truth, however, is that sometimes, whether we sprint or not, it feels like we’re trapped on a treadmill.
We’re not going anywhere. This is what the art of the hustle rarely teaches us.
Let me give you an example.
Ever since the pandemic and the lockdown, I’ve been working on developing additional sources of income to earn just as much as I was earning in January or February.
And for the past five months, I’ve been growing at a rate of about 50–70% every single month. Whether we’re talking about selling online courses, tutorials, e-books, or publishing content on Medium, I was growing.
This month, however, so far, I’m earning about the same I did last month.
In a way, it feels like I am not going anywhere. It feels like no matter how much effort I invest, I’m not getting more back.
There’s no real progress that I can measure, and this is taking its toll on me mentally. Some days, I have to struggle to work. Some days, all I want to do is read and watch silly videos.
There’s no growth to be excited about.
And here’s what most people do wrong. They decide they’d better sprint all the way to the finish line.
Well, hold on, there are still plenty of miles left. You’re going to wear out long before you even catch a glimpse of the finish line.
The moments of no-progress have a funny way of weeding out the people who don’t understand the importance of resilience.
It’s okay to go through days of no-growth.
What’s not okay is losing heart. Or, worse, giving up.
Just don’t quit yet. Don’t give up. That’s it.
I have experienced months of no progress whatsoever, and if there’s one thing I am absolutely certain of, is this: this too shall pass.
The game of success is not just a game of outworking everyone else, but also of outlasting everyone else.
Sometimes you just have to show up. That’s it. There’s no progress, no success, nothing to celebrate, nothing to be proud of. There’s just you, showing up, doing the work, getting stuff done.
When You Should Give Up
There’s one thing I know about giving up: you should never give up when you feel like giving up.
When the emotional impulse to hoist the white flag is most powerful, that’s when you should consider it as an indication that you’re getting closer to success, that the universe is simply testing your commitment.
Don’t give up today.
Give it another day or so.
Storms don’t last forever.