A wise friend of mine gave me some sage advice one night, without even knowing it.
But before I tell you what she told me, I should say that my friend is über productive. Uber. She is a Fulbright scholar, was a tenured professor ( a couple of times), has written over TWENTY books, is asked to speak all over the world, and of late has become an award-winning playwright, with one current off-broadway show and another in workshop stage–while she teaches adjunct at Columbia University. Like I said, über productive.
Still, when you meet Dorothy, she is thoughtful and engaging. She looks you in the eye and you know that she is considering what you have to say. And she really is. In addition to having an amazing career that started with working on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (the “it” show when I was a kid), she has raised three amazing daughters who are busy changing the world for the better in their own right.
One night when I happened to be in NYC, we went to see an off-broadway play. Afterward, as we waited for cabs, I asked her how she did it – how is it that she is so productive? “Well,” she said thoughtfully, “I think I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Each day I just plod along and eventually, I get somewhere.”
Was that the advice that you were expecting? No? Yeah, me either. And can I tell you how relieved I was to hear her say that? By telling me that she had done all of these amazing things by just plodding along–it was reassuring to me. I didn’t need superpowers or to survive on 4 hours of sleep or to shed all meaningful relationships in order to produce the Next Big Thing. All I needed was discipline enough to get up each day and work at it – whatever the “it” was for that day. And as long as I gave “it” my best that day, even if it was just one thing crossed off of the list, I would be that much closer to achieving what I set out to achieve.
So, while I think it’s great to set our sights high and try to achieve more than the ordinary, HOW we achieve those things may be as simple as plodding each day toward the goal. Thanks to my dear friend’s awesome advice, my new motto, writ large on the white board in my office, is “PLOD everyday”. Not sprint, not do a diving save, not be brilliant: Plod. Everyday.
As a reminder, I started decoupaging this little phrase on tiny frames (that include photos of cute shoes–because I may be plodding everyday, but who says you can’t plod along in cute shoes?)…which is the photo attached to this blog post. So, thank you, Dorothy, for some of the best advice I have ever taken to heart, and your encouragement to do great things–one step at a time, each day.
So that is my encouragement to you – all of you out there wanting to change the world: PLOD ON!
5 thoughts on “The Value of Plodding (Not all progress takes place in a New York Minute)”
This is great advice Adrienne! I am definitely a plodder (who can sprint occasionally).
Plodding is an art form. It is not to be confused with muddling. Plodding means you have small goals and you stick at it until you are through – regardless of distractions, detours, and other things that try to take you off task. Keep going back and plodding through.
The Best is the enemy of the Good in plodding. You are never going to get that uninterrupted 8 hours of time you need to finish whatever you are working on.
Learn how to Plod and make the most of every day and you can achieve great incremental results…
Love your insights and, per usual, we agree. I also believe that great is the enemy of good –aka getting things done (see previous post with this title) and plodding is one way to keep moving toward the good –and perhaps the great–but it’s a disciplined approach. I find that lack of such discipline is often the reason for failure to succeed, or even launch. Plod on! And thanks for commenting : )
I refer to my plodding as “chipping away at it” It is a mining metaphor for working a long time to get a small thing of great value. Thanks for the great post!
Davidson, yes, chipping away is another great metaphor. Whatever keeps us working toward our goals! Thanks for commenting!
Hi Honey, This goes right along with “crawling toward joy” for me. My lists are still. I get less done than ever before. But I get some things done. Yes I like Dorothy’s advice.