get started

By December 7, 2010Leadership

This post from John Maxwell is a great reminder that nothing great was ever accomplished until someone (or something) started.  Enjoy!

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Do you want to be a success? As you know, many obstacles can keep even a highly-motivated person from succeeding. But today I want to talk about the ONLY obstacle that will ALWAYS keep us from success: Not starting.

Starting is the Great Separator. It separates…

  • The doers from the do-nots,
  • The haves from the have-nots,
  • The winners from the whiners, and
  • The successful from the unsuccessful.

If a desire were enough, then everyone would be a success. But success is like a book, and starting and finishing are the front and back covers. Until you open that front cover, you can’t experience anything from the pages within.

So how do you get started?

1.   Start with Yourself.

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve heard the pre-flight instructions about the oxygen masks – which drop down from the ceiling in the case of emergency. If you’re traveling with someone who would need help, who do they always tell you to place the mask on first? Yourself! They want to remind you that you can’t help anyone else get oxygen if you aren’t able to breathe.

Starting with yourself is not a selfish goal – as long as you’re not doing it for your benefit alone. By putting on my oxygen mask, I get the oxygen I need in order to help others get oxygen. As a leader, I obtain what I need in order to help others succeed.

2.  Start Early.

I can’t overstate how much you gain from starting early. It’s something you can’t really understand or grasp when you’re young. One creature that understands this principle is the ant. Consider what the Bible says in Proverbs:

“Go to the ant, you sluggard;
Consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
No over seer or ruler,
Yet it stores its provisions in summer
And gathers its food at the harvest.”

-Proverbs 6:6-8

The activity of any individual ant seems to have little impact. After all, it can only carry one seed or leaf or grain of sand. And it’s not clear what any single grain has to do with the big picture of what is being formed. But regardless of how it looks from the outside, the impact is happening, and something is developing.

Whether you are trying to lose weight, build a business, build a marriage, raise a child, overcome a pattern, resolve a depression, or build a business, it is done the same way: one brick at a time. And the earlier you begin, the more bricks (or grains of sand) you can accumulate.

3.  Start Small.

Most of us would love to see the entire path from where we are to the top. But life doesn’t work that way. Like a person carrying a lantern, most of us only see the small portion of the path ahead. Our best response is to just take the next step.

Why start small? It encourages you to get started and allows you to prioritize and concentrate. It also provides the necessary step to take the next step.

Like the person carrying the lantern, your path will only be illuminated a short distance ahead. We’ve all walked home in the dark. The lantern we carry may not illuminate the house, but it does show us the path that will take us there.

4.  Start with The End in View.

John Wooden, an American basketball coach, was known for his focus on preparation. Every practice kept the goal – the next game – in view. Why? Because, as he said, “It’s too late to prepare when opportunity arrives.”

First, pursue your passion. A passion, a goal that you feel strongly about, gives you energy. Next, let planning give you direction. The beginning of the journey is the place to study the map. You may not always know the entire route, but your planning should always point in the direction of your destination.

5.  Start now.

It’s too easy to say, “I’ll start tomorrow.” We promise that tomorrow, we will start a diet, studies, a career, or a relationship. But until we actually begin, a dream remains a dream.

It may be a cliché to say that every journey begins with the first step, yet it is still true.  Successful people don’t wait for everything to be perfect to move forward. They don’t wait for all the problems or obstacles to disappear.  They don’t wait until their fear subsides. They take initiative. They know a secret that good leaders understand: momentum is their friend. As soon as they take that first step and start moving forward, things become a little easier. If the momentum gets strong enough, many of the problems take care of themselves and talent can take over. But it starts only after you’ve taken those first steps.