In competition, there are winners and losers. First, second, third place, and so on. The same is true in any other aspect of life. We are all at different stages and doing different things. This may seem like a struggle to some people, always feeling behind, in last place, just can't seem to get ahead. I believe there are three very important stages that one must go through to progress. Yes, goals are nice, but progression is what gives us, as human beings, the most satisfaction. I discovered these three stages a couple of years ago as I was beginning to make progress in Muay Thai. I then realized that these stages had been relevant in everything in life since the day I was born. I'm going to share my thoughts with you on these three stages of progression.
In anything you do or want to be good at, you must first start. Zig Ziglar said, "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!" That is such an awesome quote and holds so much truth. Being a beginner is where you initially make the most progress. As a personal trainer, I see this over and over again in the first few weeks a client is consistently training. I like to measure the progress with push-ups. On many occasions, a beginner client can't accomplish one repetition of a push-up; sometimes even holding themself up is a struggle. So we regress to a push-up starting from the knees, arms bend, chest lowers to the ground, arms push back up and lock out, and the progression has begun! Within just a few weeks the strength in their chest and arms usually increases so quickly, that they are not only able to hold themselves up in a push-up position, but are able to finish a few repetitions of full push-ups. This is true in any other aspect of life. Even for those who go to college for many years, after they graduate and begin their career, they're not masters right away. More times than less, they virtually start over at the bottom of the ladder when they begin their first day of their new career. We must first be a beginner.
Stage 2: Equal
It's always important to be surrounded by someone in the workplace or who enjoys the same activity as you, who is your equal. Now this doesn't mean that you two are exactly alike, one may be better or worse at something than the other. This is irrelevant, the importance is that you both share the same mind-set and are there to encourage and challenge each other to be better. This happens a lot with sparring in the gym. There are guys who are physically more gifted or more talented than the others, but everyone is there to make each other better. When you train with someone every day, regardless of if they are bigger, stronger, or faster than you, you begin to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to constantly test each other and help one another to improve. If you look at your best friend, the person you spend the most time with, you will notice many similarities between the two of you. Financially, physically, and mentally, we tend to be exactly who we surround ourselves with. It's not a coincidence that rich people hang around with other rich people. They relate and challenge each other to grow even more. Be an equal if you want to progress.
Stage 3: Teacher
"Mentor and coach others whenever you can. Your teaching will deepen your own learning." - Lee J. Colan.
One of the best things you can do in life is to make someone else's life better. In doing this, you will progress more than you ever imagined. The saying is true that the best leaders are also the best students. I always see myself begin to progress more in Muay Thai when I am teaching others. Showing others the skills you know, not only is a great way to give back, but it also reinstates what you already know. It sharpens your tools even more. Teach the beginner, who was once you.
Anything we aspire to be in life will always follow these three stages of progression. Keep note of where you are in your current situation and be satisfied no matter what, because we are always progressing. The beginner, equal, and teacher all learn and grow from one another. There will always be someone ahead of you and this competition is what makes life so exciting. Even when you have become the teacher, remember you have essentially started over, because we learn most from the beginners when we are teaching them. Challenge yourself and start something new today and become that beginner. Make sure the person you are surrounded with the most is your equal, on the same page and challenging you to become better. Finally, give back to someone who aspires to be like you, teach your talents, there is no better feeling in the world.