Why was I building a staircase in the first place? A little backstory:
My partner and I were hosting a family reunion for the first (maybe the last?) time. That meant countless hours of sprucing up the ol’ homestead. The staircase (the exterior variety) was necessary because our yard has an upper portion – a private sanctuary perfect for the practicing nudist – and a lower portion accessible only via a steep embankment. Because we didn’t want any kinfolk somersaulting down the hill, a staircase seemed prudent.
Hence the construction. Hence the metaphor. Hence these lessons:
Begin with the end in mind:
I had a pretty good mental image of that staircase before I started construction. Likewise, you should picture success in your mind. Does success mean money to you? Does it mean independence? Comfort? Being debt-free? Think of success as simply, but as specifically, as you can. Some people create a vision board of images that represent success. Not a bad idea. Visualize success. Dare I say, undress it?
Have a plan:
When building the staircase, I made numerous sketches. (It helped that I had a background in architecture before I became a marketing, content and design geek.) These sketches were detailed and to scale because building a staircase on steep terrain leaves little room for error. Same for your success plan. With your vision in mind, chart a course. Make it as exact as you can, but be open to revising your blueprint as conditions change and opportunities arise.
It would seem natural when building a staircase to simply go from bottom to top in measured steps. But considerations and complications arise. Do you need a platform at the top, a concrete base at the bottom, a landing in the middle? Likewise for success: Are there necessary bends or detours for education, training, or strategic partnerships? Figure out the most direct route with the fewest steps. Then build that path.
Build on strong foundations:
Henry David Thoreau wrote that, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” I interpret that as meaning that dreams of success can only be made real when built on solid ground and with strong foundations. Anchor your success staircase firmly and your climb will be more surefooted. Your foundations for success could include training and skills development, a core team of strategic referral partners, a solid business plan and professional marketing.
Measure twice, cut once:
This is probably one of the fundamental tenets of carpentry. Taking an extra measure of care up front can save time and yield better results throughout your project (or throughout your journey to success). But beware of paralysis by analysis. The endless pursuit of perfection can scuttle your success.
Make sure your connections are strong:
My staircase is solid, man, solid. Not only did we sink support posts in concrete for the frame, we also used heavy-duty connectors, bolts and screws. Likewise in your quest for business success, you’ll want to make the best connections possible. Determine your best networks of prospects and align yourself with strong strategic partners. Help others succeed and they will gladly help you in return (especially if you ask).
Work with manageable steps:
Staircases are more easily built and scaled when the steps are reasonably sized and spaced. For success, know where you are going and be steadfast in your determination; but also be patient and deliberate. Rejoice in reaching milestones along the way, and use those achievements to energize you for the next part of your journey.
Install support rails:
Climbing the staircase of success (it’s not a ladder after all, is it?) will be easier if you have handrails to lean on. These can include your support networks of friends, family and associates; but they can also include your website, your branding, your marketing tools, your staff, your suppliers and customers. Install them firmly. You’ll need them.
The Bottom Line:
Success is a journey, but it is also a staircase that you will build and climb and build some more. But don’t be so focused on the construction that you don’t enjoy the climb. Take time to feel the sun and the rain and the wind on your skin, the boards beneath your toes. You’re a nudist, after all. What good is success if you can’t undress and de-stress?