I actually cannot recall where I first heard this, but it was many years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. The story was that a student came to school on his bicycle, which was actually against school rules. When he saw the teacher approaching, he quickly tried to hide the bike, but the teacher told him not to. "A bicycle is something we can learn so much from", and he proceeded to elaborate about the lessons we can all learn from a bike.
I have thought about this story countless times over the years and only recently applied it to my business, but it has given me perspective on many of my successes and failures over the years.
If times are rough, you are probably going up hill.
Just like a bicycle, if you are struggling, if things just don't seem to be coming easily, that often means you are on the right track. You are growing, going uphill, and are on the road to achieving great things.
We, of course, see this often in business. When an entrepreneur finds herself struggling to raise funding because every investor is saying no, every one of those negative responses is something to analyze and learn from. Every time you get rejected as an entrepreneur, that is a lesson to learn and from which to grow.
It is hard, but that is only because you are going up hill.
I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that every startup launch, every beginning of a business I was involved in felt like an uphill battle every day. And it was. It was growing pains. That became quite clear later on as we grew.
If everything is easy, you might be going down hill.
Often times, life seems to be going well, and everything is just working. That is great, but instead of enjoying some down time, perhaps you should consider challenging yourself with something new.
If everything is just moving fast, no friction, and no effort involved, you might be going down hill or at the very least, not challenging yourself enough.
If your product is achieving perfect market fit, and you are seeing traction beyond your expectations, you can choose to sit back and watch or up your game and leverage your success to achieve even greater milestones.
If you are not going up hill, you are going down hill. Life is about growing and challenging yourself. Achieving the maximum, not settling for comfort. Which leads me to my final point.
I just recently sat with a company that was founded by someone who sold his previous company for billions. He didn't stop for a second but rather, instead of taking the easy road, he decided to continue challenging himself and built his second company. Most great entrepreneurs I have met eventually become serial entrepreneurs. Growth and challenges are in their DNA.
There is no standing still. You will fall.
Anyone who has ever rode a bike or more importantly, anyone who has ever talk someone else to ride a bike, knows that the first rule is "Always be moving."
You cannot stand still on a bike, because standing still equals falling.
The same is true for business and the same is true for life. Stand still, get comfortable, be content, and you will begin to fall. It might not happen tomorrow but the last two companies who got comfortable with their success were MySpace and Nokia.
This is true for companies and this is true for people. If you are in a dead end job, and you are just standing still, it might be time to think big and move on. Always be growing.
Don't get to used to success, don't stop peddling because if you are not going up hill, you are standing still, which means you will ultimately begin your descent and lose your edge.