Keeping Going

Last week I wrote about Starting (whatever is in you to start). This week I have some thoughts on Keeping Going! Have you ever run a race? You'll recall that there are points along the way where you want to give up. The longer the race, the more drop-out points there are.

We need you to be you (that's last week's post) AND we need you to KEEP ON being you! Winston Churchill is quoted as saying "success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm"! This post has the goal of boosting your enthusiasm to keep you stumbling along!

The first encouragement that comes to mind is Keep your eye on the prize. Remember what prompted you to start what you started? Why you got in the race in the first place? Well, with your eye on that prize, organize & execute to reach it. Organize is planning to succeed, execute is acting on planning. Both combined will bring you success by the Churchill method of stumbling along enthusiastically!

While you keep your eye on the prize, the second secret to keeping going is to Take another step. That seems obvious, but it is not the way most of us operate. Let me explain: have you ever climbed a mountain? In my youth I was a Boy Scout, an avid mountain hiker, and I loved to scale the peaks in my native British Isles. I learned early on that the way you conquer peaks is to take another step. Don't only look ahead to the summit - seeing how far away it is can result in discouragement. But focus on the next step and you will discover that incremental rewards add up! And from time to time it helps to review: look back and see how far you've come, then refresh your focus on the summit ahead, and return, encouraged, to taking the next step.

Here's another lesson I learned in scouting: Fires burn longer, hotter, and brighter than firebrands. If you pull a burning stick from a fire, it burns for a while, but soon dies out. But if you gather a group of burning brands, they become a hot fire. In the same way, one of the keys to keeping going is to Gather a tribe. I'm deliberately using Seth Godin's word for a life-giving living group, because it expresses clearly the need for connectedness, with a leader and a uniting idea. Who is on the journey with you? Since you started, who has followed? Allow the gathering of a tribe to give you the safety, encouragement, and fuel for the journey. I never climbed a mountain alone, always with a group.

And finally, as you keep going, Fail forward. By this I mean (in the terms of John Maxwell's book of that name) - failing doesn't make you a failure. In fact, failure is your friend; giving you the ability to learn and then revise your plan. Thomas Edison is famous for inventing the electric lightbulb by way of repeated 'failures'. Edison is quoted as saying: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." When you fail (as you will), learn to slay discouragement with the sword of vision and the shield of community. Remember why you are in this race, look around at the tribe running with you, take another step, and KEEP GOING!