Knowing the difference between Motion and Progress

One of the keys of being an entrepreneur is the ability to distinguish motion from progress. Ok, scratch that: one of the keys to being any sort of leader especially in business is the ability to distinguish motion from progress.

It is very easy to be busy. In fact, ask most entrepreneurs how things are going and they’ll likely say “very busy” but are they busy doing the right things and is it driving them towards meeting their goals? Wait a minute, let’s back track: Is progression even being tracked or measured? No? Well, then how the heck are you supposed to know if you’re progressing? I don’t know about you but I’m not comfortable making decisions especially significant strategic ones based solely on a hunch.

If you’ve ever worked closely with me in my recent couple of years, you’ll know that this motion vs. progress thinking weaves in loud and clear with my leadership style. That’s part of what I do with my role at thirdocean: to make sure that we are investing in the right pockets of the business.

It’s important to be able to set metrics or criteria that will help you to quickly compartmentalize things in to Green Light, Yellow Light and Red Light buckets. If you’re investing resources on things that should be categorized in the Red Light bucket then you’re just creating a whole lot of motion and creating motion doesn’t do anything for me. It’s actually just a waste of resources and those are valuable so use ’em wisely! :)

Apply this to well, pretty much everything. 2 examples:

Your communications:
Ex. Are there topics being discussed around something that diverts away from the objective of the conversation? A whole lot of motion that does not contribute to progression towards the objective. You’re wasting your energy, breath and time reading about things that do not contribute to the fundamental goal(s).

Your business development efforts:
Ex. Are you going to a bajillion events, collecting business cards, sending off emails, sponsoring a whole lot of events and yet the contacts you’ve made from it all technically do not qualify as leads (based on your sales process)? Motion and lack luster progress. Obviously, something isn’t quite working and that may be a problem right there: not knowing which of the multiple marketing efforts are and are not working. At the bare minimum, put in place the most simplest way of tracking -> In your client needs analysis document(s) jot down where/how the lead was initially sourced.


Define what sets apart Motion vs. Progress.
Invest in ways to measure/track it.
Stay on top of it and quickly compartmentalize them in to:

  • GO GO GO! (or Green Light)
  • Back burn (or Yellow Light)
  • Don’t touch (or Red Light)