If there are ten steps between you and a major goal,
you won’t know how to take steps two through ten
until you take step one.
Imagine you have to go through ten interviews with senior managers at a major company to land your dream job. Each manager asks you different questions and shares their perceptions of the company.
If you fare well, they ask you to return in a few days to meet the next manager—all the way up to the CEO.
How would you approach this series of interviews? Would you act the same in all ten interviews, or would your behavior in each interview depend on what you had learned about the company in your prior interviews?
I have asked you a rhetorical question with an obvious answer. Most likely, you are willing to accept that if there are ten steps between you and a major goal, the only way to know how to take the tenth step is to take the first nine steps and then use your best judgment.
If you work back from there, you will realize that you won’t know how to take the ninth step until you take the first eight steps, and so on.
This metaphor has startling implications. It illustrates why sitting around and pondering how to reach a goal—whether it’s to find a new job, or earn another degree, or meet the right person—is an attempt to make a decision with incomplete information.
The more practical and effective way to achieve your goal is to get off your rear cushion and take your first step. There’s no other way to get the information you need to proceed to step two.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).