Monday, October 26, 2009

The Power of Taking the First Step

“Take the first step, and your mind will mobilize all its forces to your aid. But the first essential is that you begin. Once the battle is started, all that is within and without you will come to your assistance.” ~ Robert Collier

Whenever it is time to face laundry in my house I understand how Ulysses felt when he found himself in front of the Cyclops - with three children, two of which are teenagers, laundry at my house easily falls into the categories of scary and overwhelming.

Yesterday was laundry day. With five baskets sitting in the way, and coats the kids had shed after school piled up on top of the washing machine, the laundry room was filled to capacity; just looking at all the work ahead was enough to make me want to grab my car keys and run.

I began by separating the colors from the whites and organizing them in separate baskets. Once that was done, and the first load was started, things immediately looked less daunting. By the time the first load ended up in the dryer, and the second one was on its way to being washed, I was ready to take a breath of relief.

It is quite normal to feel helpless when facing an overwhelming task; whatever is in front of us feels so big that we feel powerless in its presence, and it is natural to become frozen on the spot, scared to do anything that will cause the dominoes to fall. Taking the first step appears as a Herculean task, and we come up with countless excuses to delay the inevitable. Taking the first step is all we need to do. Once we get started, a second step quickly follows the first, and then a third lines up before a fourth; before we know it, everything is done and we are back in control.

This concept applies to many things we face on a daily basis, but it particularly applies to change. We are afraid of the unknown, and worry that the approaching wave will pick us up and thrust us toward unfamiliar waters; and, while we are so absorbed by our fears, we forget that we do know how to swim.

So, no matter what awaits out there, know that you can do it. You might feel that you are in front of something huge and overwhelming, but quite often the fear of the monster is much bigger than the monster itself. Once the light of reason shines on its shadow, we gladly see that the monster can be easily slain. It all starts with the first step of choosing to win.

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