Two Steps Forward and One Step Back


Copyright Sandy Elrick “Strut Your Stuff”

The phrase “Two steps forward and one step back” means one thing to me.  A task worth doing is a job worth going all the way, no matter how arduous it is.  When all is right in the world, there is nothing better.  When we face adversity, with a challenge to our core being, we show our truest colours in how we react.  If you ever want to test yourself, you have to embrace adversity.  You have to slog through the day, the hours, and the minutes you have to put in to make what you want a reality.


We are easily distracted from making that reality happen.  It is unfortunate, but it is a lesson we have to learn.  If you want something, you have to put in the effort, the concentration, and the focus.  Many goals take the time to come to fruition and again we can become distracted.  Staying in focus needs to be dealt with by implementing rigour and routine into our daily lives.  I recently viewed a TED talk about mental health and how amazing it is that we teach children about physical health and how to deal with injury and sickness.  It is not so common for us to teach children about mental health.


Mental Health is at Risk


It is tough to understand what is wrong when you don’t even know how to communicate about it.  In the 20th century, mental health was just breaking outside of the scientific community.  In the 21st century, we are living with it in the open and are only now starting to appreciate the monumental task ahead of us.  We grow as a species when we make a monumental change.  As an individual, we thrive when we learn about ourselves and begin to accept what makes us who we are.  We are not defined by what makes us but by what we do every day.  Courage to be different, courage to embrace the unknown, courage not to give in to our brains is the bravest thing I know.


Our brains are great things, and first and foremost they require discipline to understand and to master.  When I reflect upon my life, I have seen so many people unable to reach their potential because of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  They are this way because they do not know any better or choose not to move forward.  Whether it is naivete or arrogance, we hold ourselves back when we do not open ourselves up to opportunity.





noun: opportunity; plural noun: opportunities


A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.


The formal definition of opportunity states that it is ‘a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something’.  This definition implies that opportunity requires a set up for it to occur.  That set up can be a chance, but crucially it is almost always going to happen from hard work put in place to make the opportunity come to fruition.  I like the seed to tree analogy best.  Opportunity is like a tree in that it takes both circumstance and time to grow.  There is an element of chance that got it started in the first place.  I like to think nature and the universe have a hand in all things.



When we have a chance, an opportunity, we have a lesson to be learned.  We can fail, we can succeed, but ultimately we should learn.  It is this result that we need to be concerned with in the end.  To be clear, we need to define a path, define goals, and achieve or nurture those for the opportunity to present itself.  As I said, sometimes opportunity comes by chance, and you may or may not be aware of it.  Awareness is the means to personal success.


Every person must train in personal knowledge and understand the impact it has on their future.  Ignorance is a not a way forward but a way to cope.  It is the denial of personal awareness (actively or passively) that the brain can hold us back from achieving our goals.


Insight leads to clarity of purpose.  Clarity of purpose allows us to set goals and complete them.  Personal discipline energises you forward to your daily and long-term goals.  The routine effort will help to maintain mental health and to remind and reinforce that which matters to you.  When you achieve personal awareness on a regular basis, you are at your best level of being able to take advantage of the opportunity, whether you made it happen or not.


Adjusting Your View


I would argue that a hard day is not a symptom of a bad thing but a lack of understanding and routine.  Those days are opportunities.  When you react, you show your grasp of the opportunity (or not).  We are not heartless automatons seeking challenge every day.  We are human, and many things define us.  Our energy and state of mind play critical roles in how we are doing on a moment by moment basis.  When you reinforce your state of being with good routines, you are going to build up energy.  Recognising the ways you create energy are essential to maintaining your brain.   Idles brains are not as robust at responding to all the inputs we have around us during the day.


The main reason I wrote this article was to bring forward other principles I have discussed.  Relationships are important to us.  We cannot act alone without impacting others.  We cannot achieve great things without the support of others.  All relationships are only as successful as your understanding of yourself.  If you cannot communicate who you are, what you need, what you want, and what you can do, how can you expect anyone else to understand and back you?


Keys to the Future


I emphasize this – relationships (personal, professional, marriage, friends, family, etc.) are only as successful as your understanding of yourself.  Comprehension of yourself is a life-long path.  The question to you is, how will you go down that road?  Will you run forward with energy and abandon or will you walk it?  These are two choices, and one method is not better or worse than the other.  That is the joy of being human.  We get to discover ourselves as everyone else brings their path to light.  So on those days when you make two steps forward and take one back, remember that it is not that you didn’t go your farthest, it is that you went forward with clarity and understanding about yourself (strutting your stuff as they say).  Hopefully, you learned something that day and in that way you have achieved growth.