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November 7, 2014

For many years I’ve suffered from a fear of heights. At various times bridges, multi-story car parks, chairlifts, even the upper tiers of football grounds, have brought on irrational fears.

So, I’ve been trying to overcome my fear by learning to climb. Earlier this week I was out in the Peak District doing my first roped climb. After a few failed attempts I neared the top of the crag. As I did so I became increasingly anxious and only reached the top after a couple of big moves so that I could get back to ‘safe ground’ in the fewest possible steps.

My tutor made me do it again. “Don’t try and get there in one leap,” he told me, “Have a look at the rock, think two or three steps ahead, and make a series of smaller moves.” He was right. The second time round was easier, less stressful and, even though I took more steps, ultimately quicker than my initial attempt.

Delivering business growth is similar. It is tempting to look for a ‘silver bullet’ solution and achieve your goal in a single giant leap, but success tends to come from a sequence of smaller steps. Even transformational innovations are often delivered through a succession of incremental moves. James Dyson famously made over 5,000 prototypes of his bagless vacuum cleaner before launching the product commercially and the first iPod combined technology that was already available in different forms.

Where are you trying to reach your goal through a single giant leap, when you would be better off, and ultimately quicker, by taking a series of smaller steps?

Off The Record: Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

They won’t see us waving from such great heights
“Come down now!,” they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
“Come down now!”
But we’ll stay…

© Stuart Cross 2014. All rights reserved.