What Tetons and Babies Can Teach You About Success

Tetons, Baby Steps, and Business Success

Building a successful business, non-profit, or ministry can be about as imposing as staring up at the highest of mountains. Small steps of faith, however, are the catalytic moments that allow us to accomplish more than we could ever imagine.

Snow-Capped Intimidation

About 7 years ago, my unit went on a “secret mission” to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting his vacation home and we were there to secure the airspace while he was in town. As glamorous as that sounds, I promise you that it wasn’t.

What stuck with me, however, was the beauty and majesty of the Grand Teton mountain. We set up our site right by the base of Wyoming’s tallest mountain. I can remember gazing at it like a little child in awe of its rocky glory. It was an incredibly imposing sight.

I remember looking at the 13,775 foot mountain and wondering how anyone could ever get to the top of it. From my limited perspective, it felt like that would be impossible. I was surprised to learn, however, than climbing the Grand Teton isn’t really a big deal.

With 38 routes and 58 variations, its actually quite common.

From Mountains to Skyscrapers

I can’t help but take that memory and pull it back into my life. Instead of gazing upon the glory of mountains on the horizon, I find myself looking up at massively successful business enterprises like Google. Or, I behold giant churches and non-profits like LifeChurch.tv or Charity:Water. Finally, I dive into massively successful books such as The Catcher in the Rye or The Purpose-Driven Life.

It’s not that I covet these things by any means. Personally, I don’t want to build a monster. I want to be faithful with what God has given and will continue to give me; nothing more and nothing less. Still, a desire for excellence and responsible stewardship always points me inquisitively towards these huge success stories.

That’s when I start to rub up against the Resistance.

The Myth of the Running Baby

What we have to remember is that none of those things was built in a day. There is no success story that begins and ends with one giant leap of faith. No, they are all based upon one small step after another.

I don’t know any better way to convey this than in a child who first learns to walk.

  • They take small steps.
  • They stumble and fall.
  • They get up , learn to hold on to things and “cruise.”
  • They build up the confidence to let go.
  • In a miraculous war of instinct and gravity, the child steps forward and walks.

We don’t expect the baby to start off walking, but we do expect the kid to fall down a bunch of times. Over time, they develop the muscles to run, jump, and play. Then, that they learn to do all of the amazing things that seemed so impossible only months before.

There is no person alive who did not start out this way.

Baby Steps to Business

Why would a business journey work any differently?

Why would we expect to hang our sign on a Monday and then clear $10 million in revenue on Friday?

Why do we not accept that we will have to take these baby steps; a.k.a. hard work, uncertain decisions, and repeated failure?

We need to stop romanticizing the giants and realize that they are all products of thousands of small steps. When we look at the Grand Teton, we need to realize that it is not an inestimable monster in front of us, but a clearly defined obstacle.

That’s when we can get to work.

Take a Step

Today, take your eyes off of the giants for a moment.

  • For bloggers, don’t worry about Post #573. Worry about post #1, today’s post. 
  • If you’re starting out in business, avert your gaze from the big box down the street and focus on how you’re going to serve your one or two customers.
  • For authors, take your eyes off the NYT best-seller list and bring them back to the blank page and start with one sentence at a time.
  • For songwriters, stop trying to write tomorrow’s #1 hit and focus on creating something beautiful for today.
  • For ministers, forget the mega-church. Take a small step in faith and be faithful with the little things to which you’ve been entrusted in anticipation of the big things.

Not all ideas end up similarly successful, but they all do start out the same. If you want a chance to create your vision and to build something incredible, you’ve got to take that step. If you don’t, someone else will surely come along and take it in your place.

Question: What step are you going to take today?

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  • Julie Morris

    Excellent advice. Thank you!!

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thanks for reading, Julie!

  • http://twitter.com/leaderswest Jim Dougherty

    Way to bring it home!  Nice post, Kenny!

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      I appreciate that, Jim. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/lindseygilstrap Lindsey

    Great post, Kenny!  Thanks for the reminder.  I am working on my thesis still and it feels like it will never end some days.  Just have to remember to keep taking those daily steps!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    That was some solid advice. It’s easy to compare our start up and weaknesses with someone’s success. When we continually do this we usually can’t win. We have to remember that everyone starts the same way.

  • Missy

    Thank you for sharing this… you have no idea how timely this was for me to read!  Thanks for letting God use you.

  • Anonymous

    I daily make the choice to develop myself and write. I believe those small steps will turn into future opportunity. Great post.