You Don’t Have to See the Staircase

Let me tell you this: failure is a normal occurrence in life. Especially when you are trying to build a business. Many people make the mistake of thinking that success is something that will come easily if it is meant to come at all. But that is often far from the truth.

If you ask any successful businessperson about the path that they took to become successful, you will likely be surprised to hear about the many pitfalls, obstacles, setbacks, and outright failures that they experienced before they finally achieved success. After all, there is a reason that they say that for every two steps forward, there is one back.

Let’s take a look at some famous failures that you may not know about.

I’m pretty sure you may have heard of this woman named Oprah Winfrey. She’s an award winning talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and producer. She ranks among the wealthiest people in the world and is often cited as one of the most influential.

But did you know that she was actually fired from her first television gig as a Baltimore news anchor? She also faced sexism and harassment while working there. She could have very well thrown in the towel and believed that she was not cut out for the media industry. But she kept pushing forward.

Walt Disney is the epitome of what many people would think of as successful. During his lifetime, he was responsible for the creation of 81 feature films, garnered over 950 awards (including 48 prized Academy Awards), built what is probably the most popular and successful amusement parks of all time, founded the California Institute of the Arts, and is the founder of Walt Disney studios.

But did you know that his path to success was riddled with mountain sized roadblocks? He lost all of the rights to the character that became Bugs Bunny, he was fired from a newspaper job for lacking creativity and not having any good ideas. His grand opening of Disneyland was a disaster. Yet he went on to become one of the most recognized figures in the world.

R.H. Macy opened four stores between 1843 and 1855. All four of them failed. However, instead of chalking it up as a loss and giving up on his dreams, he learned from his mistakes and opened up a store that would go on to become what is now the largest department store in the nation. What would have happened if he had given up on his dreams just because he couldn’t see exactly where he would end up?

My point is this: you don’t always need to know exactly where your steps will lead you. Just know what your goals are, what your action steps are and take it one step at a time. There is a quote by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr that says it perfectly – “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

I love this quote because it also touches on how it is so easy to get stuck in preparation mode. We want everything to be perfect when we are planning a business. We want to foresee and avoid every single possible obstacle or issue that might arise. We want to be like the ever-prepared Boy Scout – ready for anything and everything.

So we plan, plan, plan. We also spend a lot of time learning about the business. What to do. What not to do. How to create a niche, How to target and attract your customers. How to build and lead a successful team. How to market effectively. But we spend so much time in this learning stage that we never actually fully implement what we learn.

We never take that step away from planning and into action. However, at some point you have to move forward. Moving forward is the only way to gain momentum. And once you get that momentum going you could transform into a juggernaut – a force to be reckoned with.

So here is a challenge that I leave you with – step outside of your comfort zone. Take the next step – whatever that may be. Think about your “whys”. These are the things that would motivate you to take action and mover forward. One step at a time.

What is your next step on your staircase?

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