What to do When You’re Not Making Progress

Not Making Progress

The Case for Measuring and Monitoring

When you’re not making progress, it can be hard to keep pushing toward your goals.  But this one change might make all the difference.

Let’s talk about the Lakers. 

In 1986, they were gonna be ‘the team.’ The team to conquer all. To do huge and crazy things.

Because they had a butt load of talent: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, James Worthy.

I mean, what team could even consider beating these guys. And true to their form, they had a pretty killer season. They were winning games and taking names. Sure, they may have had the occasional loss, the occasional off night, but they were overall the most talented team in the league.

But you know what happened at the end of that season?

They didn’t even make it to the playoffs. They lost to the Rockets of all teams.

They sucked it big time. Lost the series 1-4. Threw all their skill and talent out the window for the big fat L and season ending series.

Anyone would have bet big bucks on this team – the most worthy and capable team, the sure fire guys to take the ‘ship. But they blew it.

Now Coach Riley knew that his team was way better than this. That there should have been no reason for them to lose so badly. To miss the playoffs. To end their season early.

This he knew – I mean check out that talent.

So he came out determined to change things around for the next season. And he created a system, called the Career Best Effort (CBE) System, where he essentially ranked players based on how they played overall.

Instead of just judging a player based on the last game, it was all about his total skill, his overall, consistent talent – from games to practice.  It didn’t measure his potential, it measured where he played on his most average of days. 

So each player got their scores. And those scores were posted up and compared to everyone else of their same position.

Every day, those scores changed based on how they did in practice and the weight room.

And every day, they could see how they compared to their competition.

So Riley’s plan was two fold –

If his players knew their ranking, they could make small improvements each day to get better.   Working for small improvements in their average performance rather than a one-time magical game.

But more importantly, they would be more motivated to make those small improvements because their numbers were in front of them (and the rest of the team) – black and white.

I mean, could you imagine having your talent score posted up on the wall next to Magic Johnson’s? I’m guessing that huge discrepancy would give you a little daily motivation to get your ass to work.

So what happened?

They won the Championship that year.

Oh yeah, and the next year. They were the first team in 20 years to win back to back Championships.

So why do we even care? I mean that was 30 years ago, right?

Coach Riley gives us 2 huge lessons:

  1. What gets measured and monitored, actually gets changed
  2. Small changes can lead to big impacts

chew on this

How far have you come in your fitness goals? Do you know if you’re not making progress?  

Like most of us, you probably don’t know. Maybe you can occasionally feel like you’re stronger or faster, but what are your numbers?  Where’s the evidence of progress? 

How come the things that we say are most important to us, like finally getting healthier or stronger, are the last things we think to measure?

How would your diet changed if you knew it was being scored and posted up at the gym? How would your workouts shift?

If your effort was scored and posted for everyone to see, would you be proud or embarrassed?

Try this:

Pick something you want to improve – like your diet or your fitness.

Then find a way to start tracking it. Start logging your calories, each and every bite.  Start writing down your workouts, the weights, reps, sets, times, everything.   Start with 2 weeks or aim for 4 weeks.  Whatever goal is sustainable for you.

And each day, review your day and how it meshes with the rest of your week.   Where are you weakest?  Where are you slacking?

Then pick 1 thing that you didn’t do so hot on and change it.

Just one thing.  Not 10, not 3.  One.  

Eliminate the sugar from your morning coffee.

Add 2 more servings of veggies each day.  

Increase your weights on squats.

Whatever that one goal is, work on just that.  And track your progress on it.  Post your progress somewhere you can see it every day. 

And watch how that score changes. 

Once you’ve got that one thing improving or mastered, pick the next one thing you need to change. 

Measure it, monitor it and change it.

Aim for small, daily improvements.  Because eventually, they will lead to big changes. 



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