“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu
A popular motivational quote indeed, but I’m here to dispute it. Regardless of length, the journey is not truly underway until the 2nd step. That second step is what really produces movement, shows commitment and represents complete detachment from the previous position.
In the professional world and in our personal lives, often the 1st step is coming up with an idea. Admittedly, that can sometimes be a very big step, but your situation hasn’t changed. Whatever problem you had still exists. You haven’t left your previous position; you just have an idea of where you want to go now. Until you take the 2nd step to begin implementing that idea, your 1st step didn’t really get you anywhere.
For me, that is why the 2nd step is so crucial. I have been involved in many situations where great ideas were thought of, but no one ever took action on them. Instead, we just collected ideas but never actually did anything to solve the problems.
What prevents that 2nd step from being taken? Often it is a lack of patience. Coming up with ideas can be invigorating and creative. Putting those ideas into action requires hard work, and the payoff is not always immediate. Some people get frustrated and lose their patience and would rather spend their time coming up with new ideas.
Another roadblock can be a lack of commitment. Are you committed to the potential solution you’ve come up with and want to see it come to fruition? Or are you simply committed to the creative process in step 1 and want to spend your time formulating new ideas?
Whatever the journey, both steps are necessary. You cannot have one without the other. Just as I have said Step 1 without Step 2 is unproductive, you cannot skip ahead to Step 2. If you want to make real progress, prepare for both steps. In fact, you’ll find that once you get to Step 2, you’ll build momentum for the many steps that come next.
I’ll cite another inspirational quote:
“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called ‘two in a row’. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a ‘winning streak’…It’s happened before!” – Coach Lou Brown (Major League).