First Step To Success

“All glory comes from daring to begin.” – Eugene F. Ware

It’s strikingly simple but absolutely powerful: you’ll never make it to the finish line if you don’t take that first step.

Take this article for example, it would have never been written if I didn’t set out to finally sit down and type that very first word. Sure, I spent some time thinking about it beforehand. Then I wrote, erased and revised until I was satisfied, which took even more time. But I would have never gotten anywhere if just kept thinking and never actually started doing.

The very act of starting accomplishes a number of things:

1. It breathes life into an idea and gives clarity in terms of direction.

Before I started writing this, I had an idea of what I wanted to tackle. The first sentence crystallized that idea into something tangible, something alive. Midway into the first paragraph, I realized a way I could be serving my intended audience better. I decided to focus on a subset of my original topic instead. After just taking a few steps, I gained much needed clarity.

Do you remember hesitating to take action about something you felt good about? How about those times you acted on those good feelings and found the experience rewarding afterwards? What about that first conversation with a stranger that opened the door to a very good friendship? What about that single episode that got you hooked to a TV series until its final episode years later? Or that visit to a restaurant that made you a regular and one of its biggest fans?

Failure As A First Step To Success

If there’s one incentive to getting started, it’s the learning you gain from taking a few steps. This is true whether you ultimately decide to push forward or make a full stop down the road.

The tech startup world now espouses the idea that products must be rolled out sooner rather than later to get much needed learning. Resulting lessons can then be applied to future versions (iterations) of the product. This approach handles failure in a spectacular way, making it less costly in terms of time, effort and money. After all, you’d rather have a failure that cost you two employees, three months and a few thousand dollars than one costing you 200 employees and millions of dollars after three years. Handled properly, failure becomes temporary and serves as a valuable tool in making improvements.

The bold recommendation for entrepreneurs is to fail faster to accelerate learning. Like mastering how to ride a bike, learning how to fall can be a crucial part of your success. The sooner, the better. You don’t get to fail if you never even begin to move. But that gives you absolutely no chance of succeeding, which is an even bigger failure in itself.

2. It gives momentum to keep moving forward.

After finishing a number of words in this post, then sentences, I’m propelled and compelled to move forward. Even when I can’t find the words to say, I get a thrust to carry on after reading what I’ve written so far, realizing I’ve made it to a certain point so there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to move even further. The more I carry on and the faster I try to accomplish what I had set out to do, the more difficult I find it to stop.

Ever started something you found hard to discontinue? Ever experienced being in a state of flow? How about being in the zone or in a roll?

It can take only a spark to get the fire going and at times very little effort to keep it burning. The thing is, you don’t reap the benefits of gaining momentum if you don’t move first.

I know of people who’ve always thought of adopting a health regimen such as running but never got to part where they actually begin. I also know about people who can’t stop running simply because they’ve already started. Of course, they’re aware of the health benefits, but they’d tell you they run every day mostly because they run everyday. I can very much relate because when I took up the sport a little over five years ago, I ran everyday and joined one marathon after another mostly because I had gotten used to doing so. When you find yourself in a similar position, it just doesn’t feel right and even scary to stop, not when you have built so much momentum.

3. It builds confidence that gives birth to other things.

Some articles are harder to write than others. I seldom finish one in a single sitting. Often times, it takes a couple of days, multiple revisions included. Somewhere here in what you’re reading right now, I either slowed down or got stuck. I probably revised a single sentence way too much. But once I got over the hump, the fun continued.

In the past, I’ve written articles, poems, scripts, stories, reports, copies, case studies, emails and even personal letters, encountering moments when it seemed like I was permanently stuck. Faced with such, I try to recall a similar but triumphant experience even further into the past and summon the confidence I’ve gained from it to finish the task at hand. I do this over and over with each additional challenging task I encounter. In the end I always come out learning that the seemingly permanent predicament I was in was actually temporary, giving me greater confidence.

Of course, taking the first step to success is sometimes the most difficult part. Which is why I’ve learned to use this accumulated confidence not just when I’m already in a rough patch but also when I’m just about to begin a knowingly arduous task. I convince myself I’d get through like I always did in the past if only I found the courage to start.

At times it’s just the lack of confidence that hinders you to even begin, but realize that confidence is gained from having accomplished something in the past, which isn’t possible if you never really start on anything. The confidence you build from experience is instrumental in future endeavors even when the circumstances are not very similar.

Taking That First Step To Success

Planning to learn a new language? Perhaps taking up a new instrument? Getting into shape? Forming a good habit? Always dreamed of starting that business but never gone around to actually trying?

There is only so much dreaming, thinking and planning you can do.

You need to take that first step to success. Get to the act of doing. Do it now.