Building your business is like pushing a boulder up hill. You start off at the bottom with bags of energy and the vision of reaching the lofty heights. Yes, you acknowledge it’s going to take time and effort, but you’re up for the challenge and raring to go.
With all that energy, it’s usually quite easy at the start, plus the foothills are never that challenging, just a bit of a gentle rise to get you started. It’s only when you’re a couple of hours in that you start to feel the pinch. The slope’s getting steeper, the temperature’s rising and you’re starting to feel tired.
Half way up is usually the place you stop to rest and what do you do? You look up at the path ahead and wince at the challenge still to come. It’s steeper and rockier than before and the summit still seems a very long way off. It’s often tempting to give in at this stage, particularly if the path you were following suddenly seems to end and you have to look for an alternative route to the top.
This is the time to look in the other direction. Instead of looking at how far you’re still got to go, turn around. Take a look at how far you’ve come. Look at the distance you’ve already travelled and how distant the bottom of the hill seems. Basically, take a moment to admire the view. Have a drink, a bite to eat. Take a breather and congratulate yourself for how far you’ve already come and, thus refreshed, continue with the task of getting that boulder to the top.
The last few feet are always the hardest; that very last push to get to the summit. You’re all hot and bothered, you’re tired, hungry and thirsty and most of you are probably muttering obscenities under your breath along the lines of “whose stupid idea was it to start this whole charade anyway?”
This is when most people give up. They just don’t have the strength of mind or body to give it that one last push. They forget all the time and effort they’ve invested to get this far and just say “Oh sod it” and give up.
This is when you have to draw on all your strength to put your back behind the boulder when you don’t really feel like you’ve got anything left to give and make that one last giant effort. It’s the ideal time to involve the efforts of others, to ask them to just give you a little helping hand to cover the last bit, to finally reach your goal and get where you want to be. And suddenly your there, at the top of the hill and trust me, the view is tremendous! It really does look like you’ve got the whole world at your feet and there’s no other feeling like it. You suddenly remember why you started the whole journey in the first place and usually realise that the view is far better than you ever could have imagined.
So, what do you do now? Well, after the rise and the summit comes the plateau and, although pushing that boulder is easier than it was, it’s still not a walk in the park and, as the view doesn’t change very much, you start to lose heart again. The plateau is always tough – all that pushing and not really going anywhere. But it’s important not to give up.
After the plateau comes the return and that’s by far the best bit. Because after all that pushing and heaving, it only takes the tiniest of nudges to send that boulder over the edge. And boy, does it go, rolling faster and faster and gathering its own momentum and all you have to do is watch it whizz off into the distance.
Now, if you don’t want the boulder to wipe out everything in its path, it’s always a good idea to run after it, try to keep up and, if you can, keep it on track, because when it finally comes to rest, you need to be right there with it. And the journey is complete… Or so you’d think! But what else is there to do with the boulder but push it all the way up the hill again?
OK, so at this point in time, it’s not top of your list, but after a bit of rest and reflection you feel up to the task. You’ve done it before, after all, and now you know that there’s an easier path than the one you took before – you saw it on the first way up, but couldn’t get to it. This time you can start from a different place and try that other path. It might not work, but who knows, it might be the best thing you ever did.
You know the lie of the land, you know where it gets tough, you know where you’re going to have to ask for help, you know roughly where the boulder will land when it gets back to the bottom. So what’s to stop you giving it another go, just for the hell of it? Why? Because you can!
And, after you’ve climbed this hill a dozen times, learnt the best way to the top and found it’s not challenging enough anymore, go off and find a mountain and start all over again.