Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on a family trip to Hawaii and the lessons we learned on our Lanikai Pillbox hike. The journey up the ridge overlooking “The Mokes” was not a reckless one, but some of the stretches were somewhat treacherous for the five- and seven-year-old. During those times, each step was meticulously planned out. I’d help the kids look for, plan, and take the obvious next step.
“Grab my hand and step over there.”
“Put your hand there and step onto that rock.”
“Get down on your butt and schooch to that one.”
Of course, my layman climbing terms aside, legitimate rock climbers know this routine well. Lots of thought and effort goes into one move that may net only one inch of progress. And sometimes we have to go the long way around to move forward.
I think that’s worth remembering when we’re stuck in the long part of a great slog. Like a pandemic. Or in the midst of any great struggle in life.
Back in the early days of our business, when it felt as though one step forward resulted in three steps back, I was often discouraged. Like when a promotion email went out and the response was crickets. Or when a big marketing investment turned up bupkis. Or the moments when there was too much month at the end of our money.
I felt like throwing in the towel more times than I can count.
Fortunately, I got some advice from a business colleague that I’ve never forgotten. Colin also was an entrepreneur and knew about discouragement. He shared a simple policy he had adopted for himself. On those really hard days, the days when you think you can’t go any further, he promised himself he’d give it one more day. He gave himself full permission to abandon ship after that, but not before he gave it One. More. Day.
I adopted that approach and found that, sure enough, the next day always brought some measure of hope, a new reason to believe. It could have been a small sale. Maybe it was just a good night’s sleep. It was rarely any huge breakthrough that magically happened; just a baby step forward.
But the thing is, baby steps count.
Movement is progress, no matter how small.
Inches add up.
Feel like throwing in the towel today? Give it one more day.
Sometimes you just have to look for the next baby step.
And take it.