Most of the time, when I take a look at my goals, dreams, the future, or anything significant that I hope to accomplish, I feel as if I’m standing at the bottom of the mountain.
I complete some form of cruel, inaccurate mathematical equation, adding up all of the obstacles and impossibilities in my way, and I build my own obstacle course.
It’s like the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, except I create my own difficult scenarios and uncertain outcomes. There is no, “You made it across the bridge and saved the day!” ending. Everything says, “You fell off the cliff and got swallowed by a river monster.” By the time I’m done, I’ve built my mountain so high, that I often can no longer see what’s on the other side.
So there I am, looking up at my self made “impossibility” armed with over-preparation and too much gear, wondering how I’m going to get to the other side of uncertainty. And many times, more than I care to admit, and probably more than I can actually recall, I’ve simply turned around and gone home, before the journey even began.
I’d convinced myself the mountain was too high too climb.
And we hear this a lot.
“We started from the bottom now we here” (not a typo) – Drake
“You have to start at the bottom and work your way up”
“It’s an uphill battle” – Some General somewhere at some point in time, who was battling uphill for some reason.
When we do have the courage to start the climb, it can feel as if, at every step along the way, Resistance is there waiting for us.
“This is too hard”
“You don’t have enough time for this”
“You are so tired”
“What’s the point?”
“What about your family?”
“You aren’t ready for this”
So as you make the push uphill, any misstep feels like it could send you tumbling back down the mountain. Sending you back to the bottom. Back where you belong (or so you may tell yourself).
But what if we viewed things hoped for, futures, goals, plans, and dreams from the high ground?
Certainly, success doesn’t come before work (except in the dictionary, ba-dum-bum).
And that’s not what I mean. We can’t get there until we get there. But we can change how we look at things. Rather than looking up from the bottom, and measuring each arduous step along the way, wondering how in the world we will get to where we want to be, and if, if, we get there, how long it will possibly take, maybe we can adjust our focus.
If we look at our projects from the top of the mountain, we realize that one small step can get the momentum started. And after we’ve had the courage to both change our perspective, and take the first step, we may just find, that from the top of the mountain, it’s a downhill sprint, not an uphill battle, and we may just have to figure out how to keep pace with our momentum.
One phone call leads to another. One sale leads to a new lead. One uncomfortable conversation with your son or daughter makes the next one less uncomfortable and strengthens the relationship. Share your work with one person, who shares with someone else, which leads to…who knows.
The journey is certainly still a challenging one, and not always just a race down the mountain with the sun shining on our backs and the wind on our faces. But we undersell the value of a little momentum, and that momentum can’t begin unless we do.
So while we stand at the bottom and look up, nothing gets done. And when we trudge towards our goals begrudgingly, like some human reincarnation of Eeeyore, there’s no joy in the journey, and the odds of us ever getting to where we are going decrease significantly.
As you get ready to embark on your next challenge, whatever that may be for you, I encourage you to take a look at things from the high ground.
In terms of the momentum that you need to move forward:
First, you have to go out and create it. The wind isn’t moving the ship unless the sails are up. You have to get going if you have something that you want to do, be, or achieve. Start DOING SOMETHING. It doesn’t have to be right, perfect, or certain. But it does need to be something. You have to take action. Whether you start from the top or the bottom, you have to START.
Then, you have to look for the momentum. Get rid of the “yeahbuts”. I’m the worst at this. I’ll explain away a compliment or some positive direction someone has offered up before it has even had a chance to leave them and land on me. Accept the encouragement, pay attention to the people who are trying to help you, and keep an eye out for those things that can help you move forward, no matter how small they are.
And then, use them, believe in them, and keep moving forward. Remember, you don’t have to take one painstaking step after another, you just need to keep preparing for, gaining, and building momentum.
And before you know it, you just might find that you are running downhill, trying to keep up.
*This concept was first read and then expanded on, from Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin.