Have you noticed that movement and direction are two separate things? When you’re lost in the parking lot and going in circles, you’re still moving, but you’re just not getting anywhere.
The key to success in life is not to shoot the bull, pass the buck, or make seven copies. It is finding and staying on the right path. How do you find the path that leads to the top? You need a plan.
A knight came in to see his king after a great battle. He rode in on his limping horse, leaning to one side, bloody, bruised, and scarred with his armor dented and helmet skewed. The king said, “What hath befallen you, Sir Knight?” Straightening up as best he could, he replied, “Oh, sire, I have been laboring in your service, robbing and burning and pillaging your enemies to the west.” “You’ve been what?!” cried the startled king. “I haven’t any enemies to the west!” “Oh!” There was a long pause, and the knight finally said, “Well, sire, you do now.” Enthusiasm is not enough. You need direction and a path.
Many people approach life with a “fire, ready, and aim” mentality. Aren’t you glad that grocery stores have numbered aisles and a plan? I have enough trouble when Penny sends me for peas and discover that there are seven different kinds of peas. Thank goodness they are all on the same path.
You have to plan, but you also have to practice your plan. Some people approach life with a “ready, aim, and aim” mentality. They never do anything. They are aiming to do this or aiming to do that, but they never actually pull the trigger. It’s like a guy who buys building materials but never actually builds a house. When you ask him when he will start, he describes the building materials he’s just ordered. He will always be one plank short of a building.
A path begins with the first step. You plan, practice, and then make progress. Where you are on the path is not as important as how far you’ve come. Life is like riding a bike: If you don’t keep going forward, you’ll fall off. We have to continue to make progress.
Persistence means hanging in there. Worthwhile endeavors always come with struggles. There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Mount Everest, said, “It’s not about conquering mountains; it’s about conquering yourself.”
How do you continue on the path when everything and everybody seems to be an obstacle? Do you remember the Road Runner cartoons? In every episode, Wile E. Coyote was out to get the Road Runner. The Wile E. Coyotes of life want to put roadblocks on your path. They complain, try to stop you, and knock you down. In every episode, Wile E. Coyote would set a trap, only to be caught himself. If you are a coyote trying to keep others down, you’ll end up in your own trap. The Road Runners of this world are “beep-beeping” for the top of the right path. When you are discouraged, think about the Road Runner.
In your travel to the top, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. If life is always “beep-beep,” then it will soon be “weep-weep.” A dad took his son mountain climbing. It was a tough climb that took all day long. Finally, late in the afternoon they arrived at the top. The father was trying to teach his son the value of hard work and said, “Look at the view. Not many people see this view because they’re not willing to put in the hard work to get to the top.” The son replied, “That’s great, Dad. It is a beautiful view. But if you had just taken a little time to look while climbing, you would have noticed it was beautiful all the way up.” Plan, practice, progress, and persist on your path. Go as far as you can, but don’t go so fast that you miss the joy of the journey.
A group of Americans on safari in Africa learned a valuable lesson. For several days, they were guided by African guides who were always up early and moving quickly. On the fifth day, the Americans were ready to go, but the guides were still asleep. Not understanding, they asked why. The guides said, “We rest and let our souls catch up with our bodies.”
Make sure that in your sprint to the top, you don’t lose your spirit. The top, even if it has a view of the world, can be empty if only your body arrives. On your path to the top, remember that man does not live by sprint alone.