Taking the first step can be painful. I’ve been jogging for many years, and the first mile is still never fun. By the second mile my head is beginning to clear and by the third mile I’m in my groove. Of course I’m nearly finished by then too so that helps! The mental and physical reward of finishing the run is always worth the price it required of me.
When it comes to my daily run, my personal mantra is “Put your shoes on — take the first step.” Once my shoes are on and I’ve taken the first step, I’ve never quit on a jog in over thirty years.
I think it’s like that for leaders in a lot of ways. There are things we do that aren’t easy, some quite challenging, and a few things flat out scary, but taking the first step is half the battle. Here’s how I break it down for me, perhaps it will be helpful to you too.
Put your shoes on.
Most of our challenges begin in our minds. It can be as simple as “I don’t want to run today” or “I’m fearful of confronting this person who is upset with me.” When I put my shoes on, I’m not running yet, but my mind is preparing to start. I’m committing to do it. By the time my laces are tied and my hat is on, I’m ready. My first step is now guaranteed.
As a leader, how do you put your “shoes” on? How do you prepare to do the difficult things? How do you battle procrastination? Prayer, wise counsel, and seeing the results I desire are big helps for me.
Take the first step.
Whether it’s setting up a meeting, making a decision, or writing a check, etc., identify the first step that will set you in motion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a major one-time project or writing a weekly message, it’s important to know what gets you started.
If I’m writing a blog post, a magazine article, or a talk on leadership, the first word / first sentence starts everything! The first word is the first step! Pick up the phone, write the first word, make the decision… whatever it takes, take the first step.
Keep your eyes on the goal.
My book, Amplified Leadership, contains 58,000 words. If I had considered the task of writing every word, I would never have finished. Like a run, I don’t think of every step I take, I just take the first one and keep my focus on the finish line. With the book, I remained focused on my goal of communicating practical leadership skills to thousands of church leaders. That kept me going.