We are entering the second month of the year. Those of you who have set goals are starting to take measure of your results. I have shared with you the process of goal setting, how to create or change habits and most recently the concept of the OODA loop. All of these are processes that can help you make transformational differences in your life. They are all what business gurus might call leading indicators; measures or processes that are predictive of future results. Think about your vehicle. A full tank of gas, a clean windshield, proper maps and a well tuned engine are predictive of an efficient trip.
On the flip side are lagging indicators; the measurement of past performance. After completing your trip, you look back at what transpired. How long did it take to complete the trip? What was the gas mileage? Were the results what you expected?
Often times when we approach something new, we expect that the changes we are looking to make will happen in a linear fashion. The greater the input, the bigger the output.
Here we see a graphic representation of linear improvement. The graph suggests that a continuous improvement in the amount of practice will lead to a continuous increase in skill level. The problem is, in life things don’t work out this nicely.
Malcolm Gladwell, the famed author of books like “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers” shares that often time progress and change look more like an inverted “U” then a straight line when mapped out.
He observes that in the beginning, change processes follow a steep curve. More energy is required to create small changes in the beginning. Once you get going, there is a period where more input creates more results, but then things level out and then steeply drop. The statistics regarding dieting would certainly follow this curve. You eat less and you begin to slowly lose weight. The results are encouraging so you really begin to stick to the plan, and you lose more weight. But then, things start to slow down. It makes you crazy that with all your efforts you no longer seem to be losing weight. And eventually you quit because you can’t be sure when the curve will begin to drop.
What most people don’t understand is that there is a certain rhythm to transformation. If you understand it, you can take advantage of it. With knowledge of the dip you can change your results. At Pro-Motion Physical Therapy and Functional Fitness we call this rhythmic progression, The Dip.
At the start of any change process it takes a great deal of energy to get going. Think of a rocket ship taking off. Most of the energy is utilized to overcome the Earth’s gravity and inertia. Inertia is an object’s resistance to change. Consider Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law: objects at rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion. Change requires us to move against the inertial pull of our old ways and bad habits.
With this initial push you slowly start to move, and with movement you start to sense a change. If we look at this graphically, you begin to move upward toward your goal. You step on the scale and you see you’ve lost weight. When you compare where you are to where you were, you are able to see progress. You are moving up the graph to point A. Now the fun begins. The change you’ve made fuels your enthusiasm and motivation and you plow forward. Continued effort takes you to a point Seth Godin, the insightful business leadership coach, calls the “Local Max”.
The Local Max is a false max. It is like the first big climb on the roller coaster. It is a teaser, you just don’t know that it’s a teaser. The reason why it’s a teaser? Because your climb suddenly drops. You feel your stomach jump into your throat as your change slows and actually reverses direction. You drop to point B. But B is backwards. Your progress suddenly reverses. You are in the Dip. If you don’t know the Dip is coming, it can feel like driving the tires of your new car in to a pothole you did not see. It is jarring. If you know the pothole is coming, you have the opportunity to slow down and drive smoothly through it. Sadly, most people quit in the Dip. The problem is they thought they reached the max, but it was only the local max. There is a bigger max awaiting. The only way to get to it is to embrace the Dip.
The Dip is the pause between starting and mastery. It is a short cut masquerading as a road block. It is an opportunity. When you hit the Dip, it means you are right where you need to be. It is in this stage where perseverance, small modifications in your approach and a trust in the process will lead to the Big Max. The only way to get to the Big Max (as Godin calls it) is to endure the pain. If you know the Dip is coming, you can establish an expectation for it and then be ready for it when it comes. Lean in to the delay and you will spring forward as if you were catapulted toward your goal. The rhythm of transformation is like a break in a song. Famed Jazz musician Miles Davis said…”music is the space between the notes.” In the rhythm of transformation, the Dip is the space between. It is the bridge between the local max and the big change you seek.
At Pro-Motion, we can help you set goals, change habits and prepare you for the Dip.