Looking for Regional Information?

That First Step

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/23/2007 | Entrepreneur
We all know it and we've all had experiences where we realized the truth of it. The first step is often the hardest one to take. Not necessarily because it is so complicated. Although in some situations it can be hard because so many things are unclear at the start. The main reason that getting started with something can be so 'difficult' is because to take that first step requires making a decision and then take it one step further by taking action on that decision.

This goes for babies as well as for adults. A child that starts to walk isn't sure if it can. After all walking is quite a balancing act. Especially if you've never done it before. The child already has the ability to walk. They have the necessary leg muscles and they also have a certain amount of balance since they can already stand. What they lack is confidence. It is mainly this lack of confidence that will keep them from taking that first step. Once the child discovers that it can move around quite easily, as long as they don't try to cross too much distance at once, they become pretty comfortable. Before you know it you wish they were back to their crawling days; there is no more stopping them.

You would think that we grow over this "lack of confidence" thing as we get older. After all, as we grow we develop the ability to reason. And that should give us the ability to make better assessments about what we can and can not do. Apparently this is a bit over optimistic. Our ability to make good assessments is probably slightly overrated. Most decisions, if not all of them, are still made on an emotional basis, not a rational one.

Of course the first step is often used as a metaphor. But taking this literal can help in driving this point home. Tony Robbins, in his Unleash the Power Within seminars, organizes firewalks for thousands of attendees at a time. In firewalking the first step is most definitely the hardest. After the fist step all you do is just keep on walking. You don't think about every step that you take. You just put one foot in front of the other and focus on the person standing at the other end of the burning hot coals. It's that very first step that takes all the courage. The other steps are merely an extension. It doesn't take much courage to keep on going once you've started walking. Stopping is pretty much the last thing on your mind.

It's like this with many other challenges in life as well. Many times we fuss about decisions; things we might want to do, know we should do but somehow just put off again and again. We dread what might happen if things don't turn out perfect. We worry about everything that can go wrong and we develop into masters at coming up with unlimited numbers of excuses. Of course we would rather call these "sound reasons for not moving forward". After all "excuse" is such an ugly word.

Even if you've done something similar before and you were successful at it, you can still get scared another time around. After all, circumstances could be different this time. Perhaps your performance isn't what it used to be. You could have gotten rusty in some areas. Maybe you were just lucky the other time. This phenomenon can even occur in firewalking. For example; imagine you're at a firewalk at a Tony Robbins event in London in February. Around that time of year it will be pretty cold outside. Due to the amount of participants, about 12.000 at such an event, it takes quite a while before you actually get to the burning bed of coals. They have set up the site in such a way that all the people can walk the fire within a 60 to 90 minute timeframe. Before you get to the fire your feet will be so numbed by the cold that you could hardly care less about some glowing coals under your feet. For a short while you may even consider slowing down your pace so you can warm your feet a little. Now take the same firewalk experience in June, when temperatures are a lot more pleasant. This time when you stand in front of the bed of coals your feet won't be numb at all, and you know it. The thought of storming across does seem a bit more challenging when you realize this.

Some doubt is fairly logical when you're trying new things. Even when you have proof that you've done something very similar before and succeeded, fear and doubt can creep back in and stop you dead in your tracks. But if you've done your homework. If you've properly prepared and you know the reasons why it will work, don't spend too much time worrying. It won't do you any good. Just focus on what you need to do and remember that after that first step it all gets easier.