When I was child, all I ever wanted was a mini-bike and a BB-gun. What I received was a BMX knock-off bicycle and a large rubber band. I’m not complaining about the bike—I loved that flat black Columbia kinda-looks like a BMX bicycle—but boy did I want that Red Rider BB-Gun. Instead, my Dad would attempt to shift my focus to creating slingshots using various rubber bands he would bring home from work. At first, my slingshots sucked. On multiple occasions, my various slinging contraptions slung the wrong way and whacked me in the face. But, eventually, I figured out how to make one actually work well enough where I could establish a relatively decent range and aim. My target was—well, anything I wanted to hit, which was pretty much anything. (Thinking back on it, it was sage parenting not to give me a BB-gun—I surely would have peppered my brother with it.)

I spent hours practicing—pulling back the rubber band to just right distance, letting go with minimal disturbance so as not to affect my aim and, of course, determining just the right height for the perfect trajectory to hit the target. I literally found myself getting so physically tired from pulling back that slingshot time after time that I got to the point where I had to take break, only to pick it up and try again later on. The reason that I’m telling you this is that achieving a goal is like shooting a slingshot. You put forth a bunch of effort that actually makes you feel like you’re further away from the target (pulling back the sling shot), then you fire it only to find that you’ve fallen short of the target. I rarely overshot a target with slingshot—I always underestimated how far away the target actually was. And, that mindset is what happens to most of us when we start pursuing our goals. Most of the time, we think they are closer than they actually are—how many times have you said, “I’ll lose 10lbs fast!?” It never happens that easily or quickly, at least not for me!

And, then there’s the effort of pulling back that slingshot only to have it hit you in the face or dribble the projectile a few inches in front of you. You may not get hit in the face with your goal-pursuing effort, but it will feel like it when others laugh at you trying to do something new. And, oh by the way, those that are mocking you or, at the very least, discouraging you are the ones who never had the courage to try in the first place. It can be very challenging in the beginning, going backwards in effort before you get the slingshot effect—a leap forward in progress.

In athletic performance training, they call it “breaking through a plateau” where you’ve trained and trained to go faster or lift more or hit further only to find yourself actually going slower or lifting less or hitting shorter. But, after persistent effort (and rest), a moment occurs when the effort becomes easier and your results get better—you’re hitting your targets. You won’t hit them every time, but the first time you hit the target (make progress), you get a boost of energy and the effort doesn’t seem as hard as it once was. Your focus shifts from how hard and tiring your effort was to seeking another opportunity to hit the target.

The point is achieving great goals requires going backwards before you go forwards—just like shooting a slingshot. You’ll have lots of misses, and some of them very well might even backfire on you. But, you’ll keep taking shots, and you’ll keep pulling back to take a shot forward, because the goal is worth it—because life is short, and you want to make the most of it. And, the way you make the most of it is by going All-in every day with your focus of Moving forward.

Alpha Mike—Alden