The Whole Staircase

I was talking to a colleague not too long ago and she told me that she wanted to start a purpose-driven business but didn’t know what to pursue. She had some ideas but not enough clarity to actually go for it. In our conversation, she mentioned that she was afraid of going down the wrong path. I’ve heard this story many times before. I’ve heard it from other people who were in lackluster careers and wanting to make a change but were afraid of chasing the wrong goals. They only saw one step and were afraid to take it, not knowing where it would lead.

Personally, I’ve felt this fear many times before. I felt it before I started Tiny Acts and I feel it now whenever I have to make an important decision. I’m always afraid of steering myself in the wrong direction, going down the wrong path. I want the whole path to be laid out in front of me. I want a crystal ball to tell me what the future holds so I can work my way there. I want to see the whole staircase.

There’s a quote by Stephen Covey that says “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” This quote has a great message in many ways. It encourages us to evaluate our decisions and make informed choices that will take us to the right place. The right place, I assume, is where we are truly aligned with our heart’s desire, our soul’s purpose. But for some who are struggling with fear and self-doubt, this quote could be a game killer. This type of thinking causes us to over-analyze if we are in fact doing the “right” thing or taking the correct path. It could leave us paralyzed in fear, frozen in inaction.

But what if we stepped without knowing for sure where we’re headed? What if we set out knowing that we will make mistakes and at times, we will need to pivot? What if we set out knowing that the final destination will look nothing like the initial first steps? What if everything is here to teach us something – the mistakes, the course corrections, even the failures? And all of it works together like a delicate chain that was made to take us to places in the way that is perfect for our learning and our growth. What if paths were not supposed to be straight?

When I finally tapped into this mindset, I became braver in taking the initial steps. I just followed the breadcrumb trail in blind faith. I expect to make mistakes and I know that there will be times when I need to make major changes in my direction. I also know that each time I fall down, I would learn an important lesson that could only be gathered after getting back up. These times of learning are precious gems that come covered in layers of dirt.

And what if there’s no final destination? What if life is just a long, windy, staircase that keeps going higher and higher? How amazing it is to know there’s always a step up, a higher place to get to?

These days, the fear and resistance are still there and there are days when I’m buried in self-doubt. But the longer I climb, the more I trust the process. There’s something deep down in me that knows that I’m still on the path and if I just keep moving, I will navigate my way through the dense fog of fear and be well on my way again. And step by step by imperfect step, I work my way up the staircase, my own windy, messy, beautiful staircase.

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