The Tree Climbing Principle

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” – Joe Sabah

As a kid, I was a champion tree climber. (To be completely transparent, that was a made-up title that I bestowed upon myself.) I never met a tree that I couldn’t climb. My best friend, Harold, was not (and, yes, I taunted him about that). We had very different climbing methodologies. Harold would stand and look at the tree and try to figure out – from the ground – the route he’d take to the top. Since he couldn’t really see the upper branches from the ground that well, he’d get frustrated and give up before he even began climbing.

I would look at the tree and pick my first resting point and plan how I’d get there and then I’d start climbing.  I’d get to my resting point, look for the next one, plan my next few moves and off I’d go.  This allowed me to make progress towards my goal (make it to the top) while affording me a better view of my next series of moves.  I also did it this way because I was afraid of heights and if I looked at the top of the tree from the ground, I’d get scared and never start.  Harold always ridiculed my methodology; but, of course, when I was sitting at the top of the tree and he was standing on the ground, it was kind of tough to hear him! 

Whenever I’m working on a new idea or project and I’m struggling to get started, I remind myself of this experience and I ask myself: What’s your very next step that will move you closer to your goal?