This morning I made an open fire to warm our house, and in the process I learnt some important principles for achieving goals that I would like to share with you…
A lot of the required elements were in place:
- We had the desire; it was clear in our minds – to start a fire to warm our house now that our heater is not working.
- We had the right ingredients; wood, paper, matches, firelighters and enthusiasm.
- The timing was right; we had the time to devote to getting it going, and to leave it going for a number of hours to add some warmth to our space.
And yet, it didn’t take off.
We lit the paper, lit the firelighters, they burnt for a bit and then went out. We tried this a couple of times, and it was clear that something was not working.
In their enthusiasm and hurry to achieve the goal, my husband and children piled all the ingredients of a fire right on top of all the other bits. The firelighters, paper, large and small pieces of wood were all haphazardly piled on top of each other. There was not structure to it, no thought put behind the layout, and no space for air to flow between the components. In essence, the fire was smothered…
From a number of years of Girl Guide training, I offered to assist. I pulled everything out, and started again. But this time, I placed the small, fast burning items on the bottom. I appreciated the importance of letting a spark have some space to ignite, and to then catch onto some twigs that I sourced. As the firelighters lit the paper, which ignited the twigs and then started to burn the larger branch pieces, I realised that this was a metaphor for life, for projects, for achieving our goals. Eventually the branch pieces were burning consistently, and I was able to add the bigger pieces of wood, those chunks that will burn for an hour or more. At this point the fire has gained momentum and pretty much burns without much human intervention.
And so I would like to share some of the parallels I noticed about achieving goals in the process:
- All fires start small, it is a spark (an idea) that is the ignition point
- Small flames (ideas being shared) need to be nurtured, protected from going out, and encouraged to grow further
- Make sure the fire (goal) is not smothered by trying to get too big too fast. In our case my family had overloaded the fire with big lumps of wood right on top of the firelighter. It was too much for the firelighter and paper to get the dense piece of wood to ignite, and hence the fire kept going out. There was no room for air to flow through the stack, and no gradual build-up as part of the plan.
- Asking for advice (business or life coaching) from someone who has had success in the area you are aiming for, can expedite your success, as you can learn from the trial and error that they went through, without having to take the time and energy to do the same. It enables you to learn the techniques of success in your chosen area, and to absorb a higher level of self-belief when an accomplished person is able to guide the way for you.
- Adding twigs (prototypes, first sales) is an important step in the process. When aiming towards a big goal, it is important to create opportunities for learning, practising, refining along the way. This should be on a smaller scale than the final vision of what is possible. Making mistakes is the fastest way to learn, and an inevitable part of any growth process, so it is better to learn the lessons on a smaller scale where possible. As each small success is achieved, this builds our confidence to continue, and as each small learning opportunity comes along, this helps us solidify our vision and improve our offering.
- Graduate from smaller to larger logs (build momentum). This is true for a fire, and true for any goal. It is about scaling our habits, practices and processes to match where we are in the growth process, and where we are moving towards.
- Once the fire is established (goal achievement or business maturity), maintaining it requires only limited effort by comparison to the nurturing and constant input required at the beginning. The heat that the fire generates from the cumulation of past successes, means that any additional piece of wood that is added is immediately productive, and essentially ‘comes along for the ride’ on the success of those pieces that are already there.
- Adding more wood (a process of continual improvement) is the key to keeping the fire burning at its optimum for as long as possible. While it may not take as much effort to keep the fire burning as it did to get it going, without adding more fuel for it to burn, the fire will eventually go out.
At each step along the way it is important to take time to celebrate each success, both large and small. When we celebrate our successes, we are buoyed to continue on, to grow further, to aim higher and to share with others.
So on that note, I am returning to my now roaring fire, am going to add another log, and sit back and enjoy the warmth of my success… 😉
With best wishes to you in the growth of your goals,