This past summer, one of my big goals was to build a stone path from our front door to the staircase that leads down to the lake.
It started in May with breaking up the surface of the ground to build a channel. This meant cutting tree roots with an axe, digging out rocks, and carrying them away a wheelbarrow. May is blackfly season in Muskoka, so I was draped in mosquito netting with sweat dripping down my neck.
Later came rain, mosquitoes, and more sweat. Some of the “small” rocks I uncovered turned out to be massive boulders, which needed to be unearthed and hauled away. By the time the work of assembling the actual path arrived, I’d spent months with sore shoulders and dirt under my nails. It was much more work than I thought it would be.
It turns out though, it was also a tremendous metaphor.
I’m the kind of person who starts big projects without a lot of hesitation. If you’re reading this, you may have the same tendency. It’s easy to get wooed by the pull of a big vision. In fact, I had three big goals this summer — the stone path, training for my Team Nicole event, and finishing my final paper for my master’s degree.
While I love the big push of an ambitious project, there’s also risk in dreaming big. There were many moments when my summer goals started to feel overwhelming. I had to remind myself to be disciplined, so I could stay focused and not give up.
One more stone to carry. One more paragraph to write. One more turn of my bike wheels. Patience, patience, patience.
When I’m working with leaders, there’s often a big goal at hand, and a lot of overwhelm about how to get there. It’s my job to help them get clear on where they want to go, and then break the goal into small, simple steps they can move towards with their teams. As soon as we do that, the overwhelm fades, and the path becomes visible.
How about you? Here are some questions to help you be on your path more mindfully.
- What projects are you considering? What is the first small step to get started?
- What are you ready to finally complete? What will take it across the finish line?
- What areas of your work are calling for more patience? How might you shift your thinking?
Tuning our mindset is a big part of completing any project. This is one of those simple lessons I seem to learn over and over again. I’m grateful for the reminder that my new path inspired, and I hope it will inspire you to keep creating your path, one stone at a time.
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