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The Elevator is Broken

While at my friend‘s condo, I notice their community newsletter hanging in the elevator.

“The elevator to success is broken. You need to take the stairs.” -Joe Girard

Ain’t that the truth, I thought. I’ve always believed that you only can do one step at a time in life, in success, in education. And believe me, dreaming big is a-ok in my book! But man, does my climb need to feel like I’m climbing the Empire State Building? 102 floors is great “success” but I’m tired already thinking about it.

While typing ”102 floors”, I wonder about what the construction workers thought when they realized how big it was going to be. Did some quit after the first 5 floors were built? How about at 50 floors? Who was the last worker to put that final brick down on the last floor? Did he have to take the stairs? When did the elevator get put in? Clearly that team of people didn’t give up. Individuals may have.

No matter what ”success” you’re trying to achieve, there is a staircase. You can only go one step at a time. Do taller people have an advantage? Nope. In our minds, they can take 2 steps at a time, but it’s still only one to them!

I’ve had a mental block lately. I have all of these wonderful things I want to do to bring great things to my community. I’ve learned long ago that you have to make mini-goals along the way so you don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed by the big goal you’re looking to achieve.

But why does my 3-story staircase feel like I’m climbing the Empire State Building?

It’s dizzying.

I know I’m capable. I know I can do it. But my mind holds me back. This is fear.

It’s really no different than in Grad School. I had a major presentation for my final class. This was the one that was going to get me my MBA in a few short weeks. The college I went to was on a Vanderbuilt property. My presentation was done in one of the rooms of the mansion. Very upscale and very proper. In my memory, it was a wonderful place to mark this achievement. But 25-year-old me was clearly not focused on it. I was trying to keep myself together from stage fright and mentally rehearsing my part of the group presentation.

Even with the fear and stress, we nailed our presentation. It was a business simulation study and we presented our results, thought process on certain steps we took… which included an error that actually caused us the “win”. Our overall grade for the class was a B+.

A friend’s son knocked on my door yesterday. His team was selling discount cards as a fundraiser. He didn’t have his usual happy self. Something was amiss. He’s a senior in high school and the weight of this being the last year of high school was weighing him down. Naturally, I gave the reassurances he needed to hear. But he’s clearly not alone!

This is our inner gremlin. If you’ve watched Inside Out, the movie about the emotions in our head, Fear is the character that is trying to keep us safe. Yes, read that again.

Fear is what keeps us in our comfort zone to keep us from harm’s way. It’s what keeps us from burning your hand on the stove (ouch, that’s hot!) to not walking past a group of people you don’t like (don’t give them anything to make fun of me for!).

But what fear doesn’t know is that we are built to condition ourselves to learn from these hard things. Not the stove thing… don’t burn yourself! But situations can allow us to learn and give us new ways to think of things. My Empire State Building staircase is only in my mind. I can frame it so the Empire State Building is actually 4 stories. Ok, that may be a total stretch, but you know what I mean! Perhaps it’s that saying “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill” that we need to live by!

Stress, nervousness, anxiousness… these are all normal feelings in the grand scheme of life. But the key is not to let those things control you. You can build tools to allow these feelings to propel you forward, shape the way they make you approach situations!

Now, let’s take that first step together! Tell your inner gremlin that you CAN do hard things!

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