Yesterday my granddaughter took her first steps. It was a momentous occasion for the entire family. My son saw her do it first, followed by my daughter-in-law. This is an amazing event for us all, yet at the same time, one that we all experience.
THE FIRST STEP IS THE HARDEST
On my show awhile back I had on Dr. Robert Maurer with his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life. He will hopefully return shortly with his follow-up book, The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time
Our first conversation focused on why the first step in any endeavor is always so difficult and how can we triumph over that obstacle.
Dr. Maurer was always intrigued by what he called the “opposite of failure” and what made people succeed and stay successful.
STEPPING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE
We know that almost all change is frightening and breaking out of one’s comfortable rut, even if it really feels UNCOMFORTABLE, is a formidable task. Robert had an interesting take on this. He said:
The word stress is a mask for fear. When you expect fear, not stress you then can approach it in a compassionate manner.
At first that took me back. I knew stress was a toughie, but FEAR, that’s primal and seemed much harder to navigate. But when I thought deeper about it I grasped what Dr. Maurer meant and the key word is COMPASSIONATE. We can easily get angry at ourselves when we feel we are not dealing with stress in a proper manner, but when it comes to fear, you must be in a compassionate and calm state in order to get through it.
ONE SMALL STEP FOR MANKIND
Dr. Maurer, after years of research and historical study, saw how through small steps and low key changes we humans can circumnavigate the fear that blocks success.
Small goals bypass fear because it engages the cortex bypassing the fight or flight response.
I personally have taken this advice of Dr. Maurer’s many times and it has always proved worth the while. From exercising to writing and virtually any new challenge, when I broke it down to the first small step that needed to be taken, and the smaller the better, the quicker I found myself moving through the blockage.
CANNOT SEE THAT TINY FIRST STEP
Seeing that first step is not always easy. In fact, like my granddaughter’s first step, it took over a year. But here is where our childlike mind must kick in. The child, her parents, her grandparents and the entire family are only thrilled about the first step. No one, especially the child, sees anything but triumph and victory. As a world renowned expert on this topic Dr. Maurer knows this and his advice is as follows:
Painfully hard questions especially towards the self are a toxic mental blow… It takes curiosity and an open mind to see the promise of small moments.
So, the first thing even before taking that step is have an open mind and be kind to yourself. The fear itself is just our body alerting us to a wonderful challenge ahead. It can truly lead to other positive benefits by recognizing the small but crucial moments that everyone else ignores. We really cannot take that next step until we forgive ourselves for the steps not yet taken.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
It still may seem daunting to take that next step, but these words from Dr. Maurer may provide the balance and hand holding we need.
While the steps maybe small what we’re reaching for is not. To commit your life to honoring and maintaining health, to the passion and excellence of career, to the pursuit of rewarding relationships or the continued upward revision of your personal standards is to strive for powerful goals, often elusive and at times frightening.
But for now, all you need to do is take one small step.
What more important task does this life hold than to draw out the possibility we each have in that first step? Make it a small one and delight in it like we are all doing with our granddaughter’s. Before you know it you will be stepping your way to success in all walks of life.
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