The previous article I published on Thrive Global, Step-by-Step, has to do with moving forward incrementally and not leaping over, or skipping, steps. This seems fairly straightforward.
In this piece, I’d like to discuss something that may seem obvious, but actually isn’t so straightforward: not going backwards.
A prime example
In the far distant past, the God of the ancient Hebrews led them on an extended ‘road trip’ to reach the promised land. This journey could be likened to taking country roads rather than expressways to reach one’s destination. It has to do with carefully programming our GPS to avoid highways, expressways and toll roads.
The people did not take the fastest route because God was afraid that they might be tempted to turn around and quickly return to Egypt, the country where they’d been the slaves of a leader named Pharaoh. They just might say, ‘Hey y’all, let’s just go back to Egypt, the food was better there anyway,’ forgetting about strange guiding lights and clouds, the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, water gushing out of rocks, quails falling from heaven, a quaking and shaking mountain, free bread and promises of endless blessings … if they would just follow a few simple rules.[i]
Desiring to go back to what was once ‘familiar and comfortable’—in spite of how bad it actually was—is not unheard of. It is a very real temptation that we all face. Whether we call it denial or something else, the fact of the matter is that doing so will lead us back to where we started, not forward to where we’re going.
If you want to take it to the Next Level, however, there is no going back. You must keep going at all costs.
Never go back, don’t look back
Continuing with the biblical example, those ancient Hebrews who whined and talked about going back to Egypt conveniently forgot the hardships they had endured under Pharaoh. Their collective memory, in the face of harsh desert conditions—lack of water, hot sand, lots of walking, hunger, impatience etc. —suddenly became selective memory. This is when we remember the favorable, and conveniently forget the negative, aspects of a situation.
If you want to take it to the Next Level, it’s important to correctly remember why you want to move forward so badly. It’s critical that you remember the level you’re currently at is not the level where you desire to stay forever. This has to do with tolerating, and moving through, a certain amount of necessary pain (whether physical or mental) in order to ‘grow forward’ and reap the rewards of a new situation, the next level.
In order to move forward, we must employ forward thinking. Forward thinking has to do with not looking back. There’s another biblical story of what happened when someone looked back, and it’s not pretty.[ii] Forward movement is the result of forward thinking. Our thoughts are what propel us forward in the right direction. If you want to get ahead, you’ve got to think forward and go ahead.
Whatever goals you may have, it’s important to methodically move forward in accomplishing them, step-by-step, always moving forward and never looking back.
Although I stated earlier that we mustn’t employ selective memory, we can be selective about the way we move forward. It is a consecutive sequence of ‘micro-goals’ that will lead us to ‘macro-goals.’ We could use the metaphor of a staircase that has periodic platforms between sets of steps. The steps are akin to micro-goals with the platforms representing macro-goals. If we correctly and realistically move forward appropriately then we will accomplish what we’ve set out to accomplish. We don’t want to go back. We don’t want to do a Mercury Retrograde or a Michael Jackson moonwalk, so to speak.
Going forward and moving up can be scary.
If you want to take it to the Next Level though, it’s important to settle the matter with yourself, take a deep breath, and go ahead.
Let’s Take it to the NEXT LEVEL,
[i] If you aren’t familiar with this classic story, it’s in a book called Exodus found in the back of the Bible.
[ii] Genesis 19:26.