Management Tips

How can results thwart our plans and derail our ability to grow and learn?

We wake up each morning to a new day.

Regardless of what happened yesterday each morning offers us an opportunity to start fresh. Many of us have some regularity to our lives, routine, and we have carved out a niche for ourselves that helps us keep the fridge full, the shelves stocked, the car gassed up and the wheels on the straight and narrow.

How come sometimes it feels like we are not getting anywhere though. You know what I mean? You work hard and do all the right things, or so it seems, and it still feels like you’re stuck at square one. Hell, Coldplay has made a career out of asking the same question. You wonder if your chance will ever come or if you are just stuck…… square one.


Is it because you are not learning fast enough or you are not learning the right things? You feel like you are just under the surface and just can’t seem to break through. You see leaders in your industry that seem to progress continuously with ease. It almost appears to be effortless doesn’t it? Do they have more time than you? Do they spend more time doing the same things as you? Or are they just that much better?

No. I really don’t think so.

It really just comes down to what you perceive progress to be. At times results seem too slow to even see the changes and as a result your perception is that you are not progressing at all or at least not as fast as you might have hoped when you started out.

That happens to all of us.

Results are how we value progress and if results seem to come too slow to recognize change then we can get discouraged.

I recently started blogging (almost a year ago) and the more I learn about this industry the more I am challenged by it. With over 150 million blogs available to us there is a lot of nuanced advice about the “how and why” to grow a blog out there and it is easy to lose focus very quickly if you are not clear on what you want to learn and ultimately what you want to get out of it.

So, here I sit.

The seasoned professional in the architecture and design industry who is a newbie fledgling blogger; wet behind the ears, wide-eyed and with a bad case of ADHD to boot looking everywhere to find the next shiny piece of advice to latch onto. And why? Because I want results and I am hearing that I need them. Pronto! You don’t want to get left behind, right?

Give your head a shake my good man.

Results are an enticing little beast. They can hook you in and once they have you they will never let go. They sink their teeth in and are tenacious little buggers. Very, very hard to shake. Yes sir, we need results to value our progress but do we need them today, this week, this month or this year? Well I guess that depends on what your plan is and how you actually keep the fridge full of beer and the cupboard full of Oreos.

The question is do you have options?

We know that if you are hanging out a shingle or trying to pick up work to keep yourself in biscuits and gravy the necessities of getting the work and getting it done is critical to your livelihood but there is the other side of that coin to consider and that is your career development. Yeah, you can tell me results are the most IMPORTANT element of any strategy and I agree, however, if you want it all now then you risk making any real progress toward your career at all.

Going round and round grabbing at whatever comes by is not sustainable.

With that in mind I think back about what I wanted out of my growth as a designer and how I have progressed to become a leadership professional in my world. The most important lesson I have learned is that time is on your side but only if you let it be. Being clear that it’s up to you to progress at the pace that is comfortable, to you, is of ultimate value to only one person; you. No one else is going to understand it the same way you do so there’s no point in doing it someone else’s way.

It’s their way, not yours.

You really need to discover for yourself what you really want, what you are good at and the only way to do that is to try, test and try it again. This goes for anyone. Hey, like I said I am a newbie blogger learning how to fit my skills into my niche. It’s like a brand new world colliding with one that resembles a well oiled machine. And what keeps that machine working so well? The oil and the maintenance and care the well oiled machine gets. Spending time on the machine, polishing it, replacing worn parts and making sure it functions properly is the key to keeping it working so well.

So, if we recognize that working on our career requires learning and maintenance and care then, just like the well oiled machine, our careers don’t get the auspicious title it so well deserves in a single day. Wanting immediate results, doing it someone else’s way and acting on ideas that don’t fit your goals is not going to get you where you need to go in the long run.

We are Rome. Not Monopoly.

Whether you are trying something new or are looking for an opportunity to enhance your skills in your current vocation the only way you are going to know which way to go is to make a list of your goals. Start with your long term goals and fold in short term goals to help get you there. Try to make sure your goals are not only actionable, the A in a SMART goal, but also uses the other tenets of the SMART acronym; specific, measurable, realistic and timely. It’s not easy but who cares nothing worth having is. 

Stick to your plan and most importantly practice every day.

That practice will get you closer to your goals each and every day and the more work you put into it the better that machine is going to run. You really do want a well oiled machine because it gives you a solid base to lead you to new learning and growth opportunities. So use the one you have to drive you to those new horizons that are oh-so-far-off and just like the horizon, which never gets closer as you move toward it, so is your practice for what you love to do; a never ending search for improvement.

You can always take a cue from Gichin Funakoshi, the long deceased master of Shotokan Karate, who said “Karate is like hot water turning cold.”

It needs constant attention to keep it warm.


  • What do you do to build on your abilities?
  • How do you focus on getting the most out of what you do?
  • How can you bring practice into your daily routine?

About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


18 thoughts on “How can results thwart our plans and derail our ability to grow and learn?

  1. Thank you! Made me smile and made my Friday morning 🙂 I think what we are missing sometimes in life is the ability to enjoy what we already achieved. Without that – next result could be just disappointing.

    Posted by mskrasota | April 27, 2012, 09:08
  2. I also enjoyed this one. As adults we all seek to be experts (in 5 minutes or less) but as little people our accomplishments were connected to a wonderful journey of awe and discovery. It takes courage and humility to try a couple of things that make us feel wet behind the ears while developing our expertise of course. Thanks for the reminder Ralph!

    Posted by Jay Pitter | April 27, 2012, 10:54
    • No worries Jay. Thanks for coming by and adding to the story. I agree, it takes time to get there and I think, as you mentioned, that it is exhilerating to try something new. Go for it, I say.

      Posted by rdopping | April 27, 2012, 18:41
  3. Being mindful while navigating from A to Z is how I try to focus on goals. I am also a big believer that you have to enjoy what you do or what you are striving to achieve because without enjoyment, the passion will fizzle. Also, being grateful for the current accomplishments and using them as stepping stones to get to the new, desired place and realizing that obstacles are needed to achieve! You know my big philosophy, “you can’t get anywhere doing the back float, you have to turn around and swim!” Thanks for the great reminder!

    Posted by Turn Around and Swim Life | Lessons| Laughter | Love | April 27, 2012, 11:25
    • You are welcome, turn around and swim (and thanks for the email – very, very grateful). I am hearing this a lot today and I agree whole heartedly that using your great accomplishments as a stepping stone is good to keep momentum.

      The passion for your pursuit is undoubtedly the most critical catalyst to success. As you mentioned without it you are just filling time. Rev up that engin and motor forward…..

      Posted by rdopping | April 27, 2012, 18:44
  4. Ralph, I’m sure you know me by now:)…I’m all about being in the moment, relishing the “now”, focusing on one thing at a time, and allowing the results to take care of themselves. I’m sure it comes from my years as an Olympic coach, whereby my work with athletes was all about focusing totally on the “here and now”. Oh yes…we visualized what the outcome would feel like, but we focused on the present moment. Like everything in life: practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. (and although I don’t believe in “perfect”, I think that phrase really means that if you don’t practice the way you perform, you won’t get the results you seek.) Cheers! Kaarina

    Posted by Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) | April 27, 2012, 13:23
    • Ahhh, ye old Vince Lombardi quote.

      Would you believe I had that quote woven into my post and removed it because I don’t like the perfect word? In Dan Pink’s book Drive he talks about practice being like an asymptote. You keep gettign closer but you will never fully feach the apex. A bit etherial but it makes sense. I went with Funakoshi because that is what I know. Similar message.

      I totally get the in the now and totally agree. That was the idea behind the well oiled machine and keeping it fine tuned. Work on it constantly to keep improving it over time. Maybe I should dispense with the metaphors? Ha, ha… THAT wouldn’t be like me, now would it?

      Thanks so much for coming by. I appreciate your comments and insights!

      Posted by rdopping | April 27, 2012, 18:50
  5. So, here I sit all broken hearted; I came to poop but only ………….oops, that was for another post.

    As I observe the landscape in my day job and also in my online presence; personally, I feel my success depends on how much I want to put into it. The other question is, ‘what is success?’. Yes, there are people who do better than me from a pure numbers standpoint in my day job and online, but to me that is attributed to ‘how much’ do I want more. In my eyes, I am successful; I try not to judge my success by keeping up with the Jones’s.

    My whole world is about engagement; online and off. If I master that it will create enough opportunities for me to be successful. I will also say at this point in my career, my motivation and drive might be different than someone just starting out or starting over. It does give me a certain ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude and it’s amazing how successful you can be when you do have ‘walk away power.’

    What I practice is treating others like I would like to be treated, regardless of who you are or what station in life you have achieved. This might not work for all, but certainly works for me.

    And that’s all I have for today……

    Posted by billdorman | April 27, 2012, 15:16
    • Crap! As I go through these comments they keep getting longer.

      Thanks Bill. I love your opening line. It’s soooo Bill.

      I think your attitude for success is BANG ON! I think this maturity comes with time (ah, duh.) and even if you are young at heart the water under the bridge, the well oiled machine or the the ability to walk away is a result of the time and care you put into your life.

      Your “practice” is a good one and really the only one that matters.

      Thanks, as always, for being such a good social friend. Have a great weekend.

      Posted by rdopping | April 27, 2012, 18:56
  6. Great post. We need to keep this in mind whenever we feel we are not going forward or at least not fast enough. I think we have the tendency of not being satisfied with our achievements, no matter how well we do, and we always strive for more. It’s good to sit down once in a while and examine our goals and our achievements and continue further with a smile on the face.

    Posted by sophiesignin | April 29, 2012, 10:56
    • Thanks Sophie, agree with everything you have said here. Indeed, take it slow, celebrate your achivements and keep your eye on the big prize. That’s not to mean that plans can’t change. That’s the fun part of life, isn’t it? Seeing what’s around the corner while chasing that dream.

      Thanks for coming by. As always you bring positive energy which is fantastic. Cheers!

      Posted by rdopping | April 29, 2012, 11:54
  7. So happy that you stopped by so that I could get the chance to hear your fantastic writing voice. Loved this post and the questions you address. It can feel particularly daunting to not feel like you’re progressing, but you’re very right – need to look at the little things and champion the small successes along with the large.

    Posted by thoughtsontheatre | May 15, 2012, 12:37

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