To reach your highest heights, begin with hope!

Are you a nature lover? Even if you’re not, prepare to be amazed by a very cool example from the natural world. I invite you to watch this awesome 3-minute time-lapse video of the first eight months of an oak tree’s life. The first minute or so is a little ho-hum as the acorn prepares to burst into life. At about 1:25, the transformation begins.

As you’ll see in the video, once an acorn has sprouted and rooted itself, it begins sending a shoot straight up toward the sky. The video stops at month 8, but after the first year or so as a sapling, the tree grows a strong trunk, sturdy branches and big, beautiful leaves. It’s well on its way to becoming a mighty oak.

Like that healthy tree, we’re all here to reach up, to build, and to grow. To establish a home… To build a family… To grow a business…  We’re here to achieve goals and accomplish something worthwhile.

I have some wise old friends, folks who have been on this earth a lot longer than I have. They’ve taught me that what I accomplish in life will be dictated by three simple things: hope, courage and persistence.

Let’s focus on hope today. I admit, there’s not an overabundance of positivity out there in our world. It’s challenging to remain hopeful, but one of my older friends gave me some good advice – if you want to experience hope for a positive future, you’ve got to stop looking back at all the mistakes, insults, and tragedies in your past.

Life coach Dan Miller says “Anytime I meet someone who is feeling angry, discouraged, frustrated, depressed or guilty, I know they are looking back at what has already happened.  If they can get clear on where they are going and define what a positive future would be, we see a release of enthusiasm, optimism, boldness and confidence.”

I learned a lesson about looking back when I was about 12. My neighbor, Mr. Clark, was a tobacco farmer and sometimes he let us boys ride with him on the tractor (when my dad wasn’t home, of course).

One day Mr. Clark tried to teach me how to plow a field with a moldboard plow. I’d watched him do it so much I just thought I could do it too, so he let me try. I tried to drive in a straight line, so I kept looking back to check the furrow. It didn’t take long to see that my furrow was going all over the place. Mr. Clark didn’t say anything, but when I said ‘That doesn’t look too good…,” he burst out laughing and said “No, it sho’nuf don’t look too good at all!”

The old farmer told me the secret. If you want to move ahead in a straight line, you don’t look back. Looking back takes you off course. To stay straight, you pick a point off in the distance and you keep your eye on that point.

Life is like that – business is like that – we don’t get anywhere if all we’re doing is looking backwards. We need to set a goal and make our way toward that goal with hope and confidence.

Here’s to a hopeful, exciting future! Don’t look back. Just go!



Look around you at the people and organizations that are making great things happen. How are they doing so well? Chances are, they’re great because they’ve been faithful and consistent for the long haul. Jim Collins (Good to Great) found that for great companies, the achievement of any phenomenal success “follows a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.” We don’t hear much about these organizations when they’re grunting it out, building concrete results. By the time they’ve hit their stride, they’ve been at it a while.

Not-so-great organizations and people tend toward a different pattern – Collins calls it the doom loop. Instead of gathering momentum through a consistent push in a single direction, they try to bypass buildup and jump right away to the big breakthrough. When they get poor results, they jump to the next big thing. It’s all froth – lots of back-and-forth action with little substance. They failed to maintain a consistent direction, and as a result, they didn’t go anywhere.

What’s working in your life or your organization? What are some ways you can focus more energy there – push more in that direction – to build up momentum?

If you’ve seen examples of the flywheel or the doom loop, please leave a comment.

What are you tolerating?

People, stuff and the goings-on around us can sometimes work together to sap our energies. We need that daily energy to meet our goals, but once it’s been drained out of us, it’s tough to charge back up again.

What are you putting up with that drains your energy? It’s possible that you aren’t even aware of it yet. One way to tune in what you’re tolerating is to ask yourself a tough question:

What is something you are procrastinating about – something that, once accomplished, would leave you feeling relieved?

Think about your relationships, work, finances, living arrangements and service opportunities. Choose a few, decide what kind of action you can take, then DO something. You’ll be glad you did.