Open Road Press

Taking the First Step

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Making progress in any facet of life doesn’t happen automatically. Whether learning a special skill, succeeding in a business venture, or searching for a life mate, everyone must start somewhere. Finding the courage to take the first step begins a process that will gain momentum toward a long-desired outcome.

“It’s like riding a bicycle!”

Learning to Ride a Bike 2My bicycle touring began outside of our family home on Green Street in Houlton, Maine, at age seven. My mother captured the moment in the adjacent photo. That’s my brother Randy pictured on the left and friend David Harbison on the right. Dad had found a used bike for $5.

I can still remember my fear as I mounted a bicycle designed for someone twice my size. No matter the excellent coaching and encouragement that I received from Randy, David, and Mom, until I hopped on the seat and was willing to fall a few times, I wasn’t going to learn how to ride a bicycle. Now, after traveling over 11,000 miles on a bicycle throughout America with my lovely wife, Debbie, I can honestly say that not taking the risk and not making the effort to learn how to ride would have been a shame.

Learning to Ride a BikeGrowing pains are mandatory in life pursuits. You can’t drive an Indy Race Car without first receiving some driver’s education, learning to handle your parents’ car, or practicing atop a John Deere tractor on the family farm. Regardless of the venture and the training, progress won’t occur without taking a risk and delving into the unknown.

Most of us will learn success through failure. We’ll experience the embarrassment and the disappointment of falling short of the mark. Yet these costs pale in comparison to the rewards that await us. Receiving help and encouragement from others and not giving up are valuable ingredients in growing and learning. After six years of writing and publishing, I’m learning this important lesson again. With enough persistence, more skill and better decisions will result. Soon, I hope to shift gears and take this endeavor to higher levels than seemed possible at the outset.

Encouraging Others to Begin

When I chat with young people on TheHopeLine, I’m reminded that we all need to start somewhere. Their endeavors are usually much weightier than riding a bicycle or writing a book. Many of them broke a long silence when they opened a chat window and began to reveal their problems. After listening and sharing, coaches like Debbie and me are often able to encourage them to take the next step. Soon, the training wheels will come off as they reach out to professionals who can help them break through.

I’ve found that some young people today are quite fearful of “mounting the growth cycle.” The process of facing their pain contradicts the instant gratification that our culture has offered them from an early age. After starting their healing journey, though, many of them will discover that they are advancing faster than they ever thought possible.

Take the First Step Today

While the ending may eventually take on more importance than the beginning, the process itself becomes the sweet journey that epitomizes satisfaction with life. Whatever challenge or dream you have yet to conquer, accomplishing it will elude you until you make a plan, hop on the saddle, and push down on the pedal. Don’t let fear of failure or fear of the elements prevent you from embarking on the adventure. You are destined for a place worthy of the discomfort needed to get there.

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