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!