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Popular Success Meme Has a Deeper Message

As a chiropractor, I’m not only a healthcare provider, I’m also a business owner. As a result, I do a lot of networking with other professionals and entrepreneurs around Southwest Florida. Many of them are my Facebook friends.

One thing I’ve observed about entrepreneurs is that they are always putting encouraging words and ideas in front of their eyes. Running a business is hard work, an endless stream of challenges. It can be discouraging at times, and those are the times when you have to hang on tightest. Humans tend to gravitate toward comfort, and there is nothing comfortable about running a business. But it’s so worth it. If you will hang on through the difficult times, the rewards are great. So, in order to hang on, we put encouraging words and pictures around our offices, in our cars, in our bathrooms. Many of my Facebook friends share them on Facebook to encourage others. I appreciate that others-focused thinking.

Anyway, this is one of the encouraging images I’ve seen several times on Facebook. You may have seen it, too. It contains a powerful message.

At the surface, the image shows that that while our plan for reaching a goal looks like a straight path, the reality is much more complex. To get where we want to go, we might have to change our mode of transportation. Our first plan probably won’t work all the way to our goal; it will get us a certain distance, but then we have to adjust our plan and our methods as we go. We have to be flexible, responsive, and adaptable if we want to reach our goals.

I want to point out a couple of other things I’ve observed in this image:

1. The Flags

It’s worth noticing that there isn’t just one goal.

There is a series of smaller goals that make up the path. Each of those success points should be celebrated.

When a farmer plants corn, he knows the full stalk will not materialize the next day. He has to wait and tend to the corn for months before the corn is ready to harvest. What would you say about a farmer who plant corn on Tuesday, then comes out angry Wednesday morning and digs up the seed because it isn’t completely manifested? That’s nuts. No, he waits and cares for the seed until he sees a sprout. That sprout is all the evidence he needs that everything is coming along the way it should be. And even that takes a couple of weeks. He sets milestones along the way: the sprout, the stalk, the leaf, the ear, and then the full corn. He doesn’t get discouraged when things don’t happen instantly. Celebrate the sprouts and the other milestones along the way, or you will get discouraged.

Have you ever heard the riddle about eating an elephant? It goes like this: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Big projects can be overwhelming (like starting a new business or career), so break them into smaller, more manageable pieces and celebrate achieving the little goals.

2. The Options

I noticed that when he gets to the lake, there are multiple options, each with pros and cons. He could swim and then climb, take a boat and then climb, or climb the post to the zipline and let that take him to his next goal. The zipline probably has the most risk, but the least struggle. You have to choose based on what you know about yourself. Be honest with yourself: if you’re not a great swimmer, then you probably don’t want to go that way. If you have trouble climbing straight up a pole, then that rules that out (or you could come to my office and I could show you some exercises that would enable you to climb a pole efficiently).

3. The Boat

Now observe the boat. Where did it come from, and who is standing in it?

Along your way, there will be people and resources that can help you, if you will recognize them, trust them, and leverage them. You don’t have to swim or climb if you can find a boat. You may know someone right now who has the answer to a challenge you’re facing, and you don’t even know it. As I’ve grown my practice, I’ve found that, when I’ve needed something, I’ve been able to find it because of the connections I’ve made. That’s why networking is so powerful. If you can imagine that your obstacle is like a lake, chances are that a boat and a friendly, qualified captain are out on that lake, willing and able to help you get across. It might be a friend, a coworker, a Pastor, a neighbor, or someone in your circle of influence. Reach out to the people around you and let them help you get where you’re going faster.

4. The Chairs

Finally, note that there are no chairs on this image.

When he gets to the first cliff overlooking the rocks, there is nowhere for him to sit and despair at the realization that he has to leave the bicycle behind. I suppose he could sit on the ledge and mope, but that doesn’t get him closer to his goals. He has to keep moving forward. He has to deal with the obstacles – acknowledge them, confront them, and overcome them. If you allow yourself to stop pressing toward your goal, the goal goes dormant and waits for you to start moving again.

Everything important that you want to achieve in your life comes with ups and downs. This could be emotional or financial. It’s OK, just press through. Failure is not fatal. Slow business does not mean no business. Every business owner will tell you that you just have to make good choices and hang on when things get lean. Have you ever looked at the Dow Jones Industrial Index stock chart? It is not a straight line at all (especially lately), but if you keep a long-term view of your investments, you will weather the short-term drops and rise gradually over time.

Even Jesus did not have a 100% success rate.

(Caveat: before you send me angry letters, let me point out the rich young ruler in Mark 10 that did not follow at Jesus’ invitation. Not everyone believed in Jesus, including his own family, people in His hometown, and the Pharisees. He had a 100% obedience rate and a 100% holiness rate, but people have their own wills, so He didn’t win everyone.)

Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

He also said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Come to think of it, he also said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

In fact, I also heard that he said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

And of course, we all know he said, “This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

The key is to keep moving forward. Like I talked about previously, persistence, consistency, and faithfulness to the fundamentals win the game. I love the way this scene (in a very silly, Disney way) sums up this thought:

Don’t give up on your goals, but don’t be married to one outcome or one plan. Be steady on where you want to go, but adaptable on the strategies and tactics to get there. Be prepared for hard work, uphill climbs, and deep water. Just don’t give up.

I just saw this as I was writing and it totally fits with what we’re saying today:

Quitting is not acceptable

Every goal – I don’t care if it’s building a company, losing weight, or getting your degree – comes with obstacles, challenges, and heartache. Press through. Get it done. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

If this article helped you at all, please share it with someone today. It’s not about building my audience, it’s about helping people live successful lives. I want this message to get out. People all around us are struggling and we need to encourage them to press through.

I’ll see you here on “Move Right Monday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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