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Why building a business feels like pushing a boulder uphill

Building your business is like pushing a rock uphill. You start at the bottom with bags of energy and the vision to reach the heights. Yes, you recognize that it will take time and effort, but you are up for the challenge and really looking forward to it.

With all that energy it’s usually pretty easy at first, plus the foothills are never that challenging, just a bit of a gentle climb to get started. It’s only when you’ve been in for a couple of hours that you start to feel the pinch. The slope becomes steeper, the temperature is rising, and you start to feel tired.

Halfway there is usually the place where you stop to rest and what do you do? You look at the road ahead and wince at the challenge yet to come. It is steeper and rockier than before and the top still seems a long way off. It is often tempting to give in at this stage, especially if the path you were following seems to end suddenly and you have to find an alternate route to the top.

This is the time to look in another direction. Instead of looking at how far you still have to go, turn around. Take a look at how far you’ve come. Look at how far you have already traveled and how distant the base of the hill seems. Basically take a moment to admire the view. Drink something, eat something. Take a breath and congratulate yourself on how far you have come and, thus renewed, continue with the task of taking that rock to the top.

The last meters are always the hardest; that last push to get to the top. You’re all hot and upset, you’re tired, hungry, and thirsty and most of you are probably muttering obscenities under your breath like “whose stupid idea was it to start this whole charade anyway?”

This is when most people give up. They just don’t have the mental or body strength to give it one last push. They forget about all the time and effort they have put in to get this far and just say “Oh shit” and give up.

This is when you have to use all your strength to put your back behind the rock when you really don’t feel like you have anything left to give and make that last giant effort. It is the ideal time to involve the efforts of others, to ask them to just give you a little hand to cover the last, to finally reach your goal and get to where you want to be. And suddenly you are there, at the top of the hill and believe me, the view is tremendous! It really seems that you have the whole world at your feet and there is no other feeling like that. You suddenly remember why you started the whole trip in the first place and usually realize that the view is much better than you could have imagined.

So what do you do now? Well after the climb and the summit comes the plateau and although pushing that rock is easier than it was, it is still not a walk in the park and as the view doesn’t change much you start to get discouraged again. The plateau is always tough – all that push and it’s really going nowhere. But it is important not to give up.

After the plateau comes the return and that is by far the best. Because after all those shoving and gasping, it only takes a little push to send that rock over the edge. And boy, rolling faster and faster and gaining its own momentum and all you have to do is watch it fly in the distance.

Now if you don’t want the rock to destroy everything in its path, it’s always a good idea to run after it, try to keep up, and if you can, stay on course, because when it finally stops, you need to be there with that. And the journey is complete … Or so you think! But what else can you do with the rock but push it to the top of the hill again?

Okay, right now, it’s not high on your list, but after a little rest and reflection, you feel up to the task. You’ve done it before, after all, and now you know there’s an easier path than the one you took before: You saw it on the first path, but you couldn’t get there. This time you can start from a different place and try that other path. It might not work, but who knows, it might be the best thing you’ve ever done.

You know the terrain, you know where it gets difficult, you know where you will need to call for help, you know roughly where the rock will land when it returns to the bottom. So what’s stopping you from trying again, just for the fun of it? Why? Because you can!

And, having climbed this hill a dozen times, learn the best way to get to the top and find that it is not challenging enough anymore, go find a mountain and start over.

Before you know it, you’ll be on top of the world. And the view? Will be great!

Keep pushing those rocks.

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