Creating Momentum at each Obstacle

By Rick Gabrielsen President, Kupuna Hospitality, LLC | June 10, 2012

That place so many years ago when you first entered kindergarten was so daunting, a word learned much later in life, but still an early hurdle of just entering the front door of the school was oh so terrifying. Better yet the attempts to put one foot in front of another while learning to walk could be early memories as well. Your first play in the third grade was so easy because you had the ability to memorize the four words, but during the play you spoke too early. At tee ball practice, it was easy to hit the ball off the tee because I was looking at it constantly, but it getting traction in the dirt I found to be a challenge. Then came the freshman year of high school and on your first day, wearing the recently purchased clothes that you had to have, you found out immediately that everyone else in the school wore casual and you went home at lunch and changed. Fast forward with graduation and you wonder why your friends are talking about announcements and you realize that you never had your parents order them. Relationships begin to build and you find yourself speaking to all of your friends about the complications of spending time together when you and your friend are in two different states attending college. Oh, but proposals arrive and you set the date, at which time there is continual barriers to be faced as to which city, day, time, how many invitations and the list goes on and on forever! Do the barriers stop at that point, or do they become obstacles or impediments or complications or hurdles, problems or only obstacles to overcome?

Emotions contain many examples of overcoming and or exceeding all of these definitions of an obstacle.
In leadership at any age, there are traits that will provide a foundation of whether you are cemented in the theory of "half full" or "half empty", and if you cannot guess, I am full throttle "half full" individual every time in every situation. We all have a choice of vision and understanding in each incident and thus momentum is always provided to the person that realizes the emotion of a decision is critical in progression.

Many years ago my favorite story is, as a child, that I loved to run and jump and when I entered my teens I always had a dream of becoming a high hurdler, but as I was told so many times, I was too short at five foot six inches and too husky (a reference used too frequently in the 70's) to have the ability to run and jump over the hurdles for one hundred ten meters. I continuously told the coaches that I could do it, since it was not that far. Interested in distances between cities and always looking at a globe to see how far my hometown was from the Capitol, I found that one hundred and ten meters was actually 120.2975 yards. No wonder the coaches had concerns of my ability to participate since it was at least twenty percent longer than I was used to while running back touchdowns from the end zone playing pee wee games. Could they be right and perhaps it was not my destiny to become an Olympian in the high hurdles? But remember I was always" half full" as a kid and now I am definitely a full throttle "half full" teenager!

Each day going forward, before practice, my thoughts and emotions were filled with understanding how I could at least get over the first hurdle in practice to show the coaches that I was capable of being a track participant. Well, the first week was very disheartening in that I continuously fell after hitting my right heel on the high hurdle. The height was not the issue as everyone seemed to think, it was that I could not create the momentum of movement to get my body past the first high hurdle. See, I love to analyze and debate, or as I refer to as "verbal ping pong" with friends / family and am quite confident that I would achieve the goal in due time. Soon I was able to visualize the stride to at least get over the first, Yes, the very first hurdle and in my mind I was confident. So the next day the mind convinced the body to only achieve the initial obstruction, better known as one hurdle, and start out of the blocks with grace and confidence and casually envision the posture and leg placement and casually jump over it. With all of the coaches and track team members, who were all aware of my stature and clumsiness, watching my every move, I began the exercise. Halfway between the starting block and the hurdle, I found myself questioning my ability and suddenly stopped. Nobody wants to embarrass themselves especially in school, right! The momentum that I had visualized so clearly in accomplishing the first obstacle became a stronghold on my ability to persevere and thus receive the ovation of the folks curiously watching from the sidelines.

Well, if at first you do not succeed try and try again or, as Jim Valvano said so profoundly: "Don't give up, don't ever give up." So Friday ended and I was determined to set the plans in place in my mind that the body would follow and suddenly, I had a revelation. If only I could get my back leg over the first hurdle, then my body by exhilaration and momentum would set me up to continue the process of fulfilling a one hundred and ten meter high hurdle race. The inspiration set within myself to finally hear the roar of the crowd, was lessened by the simple fact of my inner strength to overcome this challenge.

Fortunately the weekend was my friend, to be away from all of the naysayers telling me what I can and can't do, and the next day I practiced in the back yard the posture of momentum. How could I subtly adjust the stride so that once over the first barrier, I could keep the pace and continue to the next and the next and next hurdle and so on. But hold on, you are still on the first, why worry about the rest. You need to accomplish the initial obstruction to face the next. Motivation at a young age is so wonderful, when you can talk yourself into achieving and accomplishing the smallest and greatest tasks, but with age we all sit back and say I am too old or too frail or too busy, foolish seeds we know now not to plow today!

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