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If Grandma could do it…

If Grandma could do it…

I know that sometimes dreaming about doing something like starting a business, changing careers, stopping or starting habits can seem overwhelming and you might just push those thoughts out of your mind.  That voice of resistance to improve yourself or engage in an exciting activity can be strong when it tries to talk you out of moving forward.

Grandma Gatewood

Grandma Emma Gatewood was a Ohio farmer’s wife, mother of 11 children and 23 grandchildren.  You would think that she would have been happy spending time taking it easy and be with her grandchildren.  If you thought that, you would be wrong.

One day after reading about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic, Grandma Gatewood thought it would be fun to go hike the 2,168 mile trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. In 1955, at age 67 Grandma Gatewood took off wearing a pair of Keds, carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, a plastic shower curtain for shelter, a cup, first aid kit, raincoat and a change of clothes which she carried in bag slung over one shoulder.

But it is hard

I tell my personal coaching clients all the time that moving forward or changing is hard going but the finish is worth it.  Believe me, I am on the journey to of trying to build something up and it is not easy-going.  The trick I tell people comes in two parts.  First, you have to be determined not to quit even when the going gets tough.  Mistakes will be made and discouragement will be part of the process.  That old saying, “…if it was easy, everyone would be doing it” is true.

The second part is that you must have an image of what the end looks like.  Does the end look like your business is worth X millions of dollars?  Maybe the end looks like you have lost 50 pounds and now have six-pack abs compared to the keg belly you currently have.  Whatever the end result looks like to you, keep it clearly in mind.  You need to wake up each day knowing what you are working towards.

Again and Again

You didn’t think that Grandma would only accomplish becoming the first woman to solo hike the Appalachian Trail at  67 did you?  Let me tell you more about Grandma Gatewood, she hiked the entire trail again in 1960 and 1963 for the last time at the age of 75.  In between hiking the AT, she found time in 1959 to follow a wagon train traveling from Missouri out to Portland, Oregon a distance of over 2,000 miles.

When Grandma arrived in Missouri she found that the wagon train had pulled out the week before.  Well, you know that she didn’t give up and go home just because she literally missed the train.  Grandma headed out by herself and not only caught the wagon train but passed it to reach Portland a full week before the wagon train arrived.

Coach’s wrap up

Grandma’s example of accomplishing one big goal after another proves that anyone can not only start a journey that most people think are impossible or too hard but finish the toughest goals as well.  What you need are some basic skills or supplies, a no quit attitude and a clear image of what the end looks like.

Image: Appalachians, Wikimedia Commons


  • Michael McGreevy says:

    Awesome parallel Greg! I love how you tied it into your coaching practice. Stories are what people remember, not tips and principles

    • Greg Payne says:

      Michael thanks for your comments. I have found that concepts can best be taught through stories or real examples from history. Just like you said, most people remember stories more than lists or bullet points.

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