We are often caught up in thinking of progress as a static event. Or at least something that is the result of actions and decisions taken in the recent past.
Take the example of a race. Our default thinking is to consider the result at the finish line to be the fruit of the runner's performance during the competition.
But is it ever only that?
Of course not. As with anything in this world, the answer is systemic. It's complex. The runner's performance is the product of his training, his mindset (which can quickly be impacted by many external factors, both conscious and subconscious), his meal the night before, and how well he slept before the race.
As you read this, you probably think "duh. That's obvious!"
Yes. When we deliberately think of it, it's obvious.
Yet, we don't think as clearly when considering progress in another context. If you are like me, you probably judge your work progress at the end of each day. You label the day as "productive" or "unproductive." As one where you "made good progress!" or not.
And, of course, you forget that it takes many days without progress to make the visibly good ones.
Brilliant days use bad days for foundation.