Ever been white water rafting? If you’ve ever done it with some higher category rapids and had a good guide they probably said something similar to this…
“If I point, it’s always going to be where you want to go not something to avoid. I will never point at a dangerous rock, or a waterfall, or a tree limb. If I point, I’m pointing to where you need to be, and you need to do whatever you have to do to get there.”
And there’s a reason for that… pointing out every scary thing would lead to panic and chaos. Instead, by ignoring those things and only pointing to the goal, everyone can remain calm and focus on what needs to be done.
What a great metaphor for life! We’re usually so busy worrying about all of the problems and obstacles… so worried about what we want to avoid that we lose sight of where we want to go. We’re too busy playing defense to make any progress on our game plan.
Look, I get it… life isn’t easy. Things come up every day that can take you off track. How are you supposed to make “progress” when you’ve got a fire to put out at work, or family stuff to deal with, or someone gets sick?
Don’t get trapped by obstacles or the mundane maintenance tasks of daily life. No matter how irrational it may seem in the moment, you’ve got to prioritize progress, even when things seem to be crashing down around you.
Does it make sense to spend 15 minutes working on your new business idea or practicing piano when you’ve got an important work deadline to hit? Does it make sense to practice piano every day make sense when you’re barely keeping your head above water? No – at least it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.
But if you look at the long game, it starts to make a lot of sense.
10 years from now you probably won’t even remember that project at work that had a tight deadline… but you’d sure remember the fact that you can play piano or that you started a side business. Life is about taking the small, consistent steps to get where you want to go.
Look at the Grand Canyon. What’s seemingly impossible was nothing more than water… plodding along, day after day. Consistency always wins in the end.
So as you navigate the rapids of life, remember – don’t just play defense. Don’t just try to avoid what scares you. And don’t focus only on “urgent” things. Instead, play the long game. Figure out where you need to be and move toward it. Little by little. Step by step. Every day.
The path to success includes many obstacles and failures. Most people avoid them, and that’s a mistake. Obstacles are like big signs waiving at you and telling you “THIS IS THE WAY!”. Obstacles aren’t something to be avoided, they’re literally the way forward… once you get through them, you get what you want.
Similarly, failure is just another learning experience that gets you closer and closer to your goals. The thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful people isn’t that they don’t fall. It’s that they keep getting back up. Believing in yourself, your goals, and your dreams is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
When you are worried, afraid, and/or lack confidence, things just don’t go very well. It’s not luck, it’s about attitude and being receptive when success does find you. No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep believing and moving forward.
So remember, focus on what you can control, focus on where you want to go, and don’t be afraid of the obstacles and failures along the way… they’re clues that you’re headed in the right direction, and each one you conquer is getting you closer to your goal.