The road to success is hardly ever straight. Sometimes there is resistance in the way and sometimes we resist to do what is needed to get ahead. Sometimes we take the challenges but don’t move even a millimetre forward. Just look at Brexit – it appears to be a never ending story. Many steps have been taken yet there hasn’t been much progress to date. I am sure that there are many other similar examples in your immediate environment. Often the effort we have put in leads to frustration instead of success.
A stepping stone can be a stumbling block if we can’t see it until after we have tripped over it.Cullen Hightower
When in 2008 a sudden inspiration hit me at a dirty rest stop on a dusty road towards Agra in India I knew that I had to write that book. All the characters came to life just like that. From this moment onwards I never doubted that this book once will be out and red by millions of readers. It took me another year to get started. While woofing in a New Zealand hostel I made progress but was also met with fellow travellers challenging me in my quest. Do you have a publisher? Why would you bother otherwise? I didn’t care because I knew that my vision once will become reality. And so it did – partly. I finished the book and a publisher made it available to the (German speaking) world of readers in 2013 and to listeners in 2015. The reviews were great and people loved the story of seven year old Lisa and her well travelled friend Osito, a teddybear made of Alpaca fur. However, the sales numbers remained low. I used all social media channels available and connected with book bloggers to get the message out. In my view I did all that I could to promote my book yet the number of readers hardly increased. While my disappointment and sense of failure grew, I didn’t notice that I may have missed some of the stepping stones along the way. Even though people told me what successful authors do (for example public book launch sessions in book clubs, libraries or book stores or writing the next book) I continued to waste my time by promoting my book to the very same network all over again and again.
To succeed we need to ensure that we act in alignment with our visions. We need to expand our point of view to see the stepping stones in order to make our dreams become reality. While I was writing the book only me was required. In the process of publishing, it was important to understand the potential readers and to build a network for promotion. What I had missed though was to go out of my comfort zone, to take actions to fully achieve my vision of reaching millions of readers. I wonder, if this is what happens with many people. We have big dreams and we are prepared to work hard for it, but when it comes to make them a full reality we back away of the more challenging steps needed to push through the end. We may miss the stepping stones because we are too comfortable in the realms that we know and we fear to get out there, to risk being criticised, receiving negative feedback and feeling unsupported in an unfamiliar world.
There is a lot of uncertainty when we step out of our comfort zone. We take risks doing something that is only supported by the belief in ourselves and when we have a strong support network by the belief of others in our ability. But stepping out of a comfort zone demonstrates courage too. It may not feel good and it may not lead to the success we have hoped for, but at least we have tried to take that leap of faith that was needed to find out. Maybe organising book launch sessions would have helped my book to reach those millions of readers. Maybe focussing on writing a next book would have given me more credibility as a writer. Who knows? The reality however is, that I missed the stepping stones that were clearly in front of me.
Looking again at Brexit I wonder whether the British government have an aligned vision that would help the parties to work together on finding a resolution. Or maybe the responsibility of leading the country into uncertain times with a potential few years of a weakened economy and the lessoning of trust in their ability to govern holds them back to move ahead. I am no expert in political matters, but when it comes to achievement I strongly believe that any action has to be aligned with that very vision that we would like to make a reality. Then this action becomes a stepping stone. It may be a learning curve at first but soon there is another opportunity to take the next step moving forward and at some point the domino effect will produce greater results until your dreams become true.
Sometimes we need to stop and check in with ourselves to see where we are at. Here are a few questions that I use to check in with myself to ensure I am still on track.
- In relation to your dream what progress have you made so far?
- What actions should you take to make progress today, next week, in next 3 months?
- What do you need to take these actions?
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