As my youngest son turns four this week, I’ve been feeling nostalgic and reflecting on how big he’s getting. It wasn’t that long ago when he was just a blob of cuteness that was only capable of eating (often), crying (frequently), and sleeping (sometimes). Now he’s running around with his super speedy shoes able to recount any fairy tale by heart, wrestle with his brother, and give the best hugs. How did all that happen in what seems like a blink of an eye?
This is not a parenting blog as I am by no means a parenting expert (stop snickering) so I’m not going to be giving any advice here of “the days are long, but the years are short” variety. However, as someone who works with individuals and teams on personal and professional growth, I was reflecting on the last four years through the lens of progress.
The truth is that this is what progress looks like: slow, shaky, messy, uncomfortable, and awkward. It is starting in one direction and shifting gears when you hit a roadblock, tripping, and even falling sometimes. It’s pausing to recognize when things aren’t working and pivoting to try something else. It is using various supports, tools, and resources to assist you as you navigate unfamiliar territory. It is realizing that when you need to take a detour or an alternate route, it doesn’t mean that you have failed, but that it was worthwhile to get you to where you are now. It's literally one foot in front of the other until it starts to feel normal. It means being open to accepting guidance, encouragement, and support from others even if you don’t know what it is that you need at the time. Above all, it means not feeling super confident, but trying anyway because you're hopeful that things can and will get better.
Nearly four years later, it’s hard to remember those days when he was just getting his sea legs because he’s so active now and runs, jumps, and climbs to get from point A to point B. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t remember either.
In the moment, things tend to feel so big and daunting and momentous. And, sometimes, they truly are. I mean, navigating the world upright was a pretty dramatic shift from his previous circumstances. The thing with progress, though, is that once the experience is in your rearview mirror, all of the practice it took to get there may just become a foggy memory that pops up on your Facebook feed periodically. Eventually, it becomes so integrated into who you are that it's hard to remember what it was like before. Until then, however, you have to take baby steps and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
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