The First Few Steps

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:  Click here to be notified about future blogs.

Based on twenty years of teaching community leaders how to bring about cultural change, the CHASE YOUR DREAMS blog features the words and phrases that helped me maintain mental strength when my journeys (weight loss / triathlon / non-profit) felt daunting.  The first five blogs are based on The Change Formula.

The Change Formula

(D x V x K) x B > R

Change begins when you have a Dissatisfaction with the status quo, a Vision of how you would like life to be, Knowledge of the first few steps, Belief in your ability to bring about change, and the ability to lessen Resistance.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll focus on one of those key foundations for successful change.  (Note:  The change formula that I use is adapted from the work of Kathie Dannemiller and Robert Jacobs.)

Knowledge of the First Few Steps

We often think we need to know exactly where we’re going and how to get there before we begin a journey.  That’s 100% not true!  The only things we need is a general idea of where we’d like to go (read about vision in the previous blog) and knowledge of the FIRST FEW STEPS.

Yeah but . . . I Don’t Know the First Step:   No problem.  If that’s the case, then your first step is to learn the first step!

Asking for Help:  I get it.  Asking for help is sometimes difficult.  Our pride gets in the way.  We want everyone to think that we are intelligent and have our act together.  We don’t want to bother folks by asking them for guidance.  But here are two important secrets:  1) People will respect your humility AND your drive to move forward.  I’ve always found that the kindness which I believe is within all of us will emerge.  2) People enjoy being asked for help.  It’s a compliment to them because the request indicates that you respect their knowledge or skill.  And . . . when you ask for help, you’re giving people an opportunity to show kindness which brings joy to most people.  

How to Ask For Help:  When I’m clueless, I try to find the smartest person to whom I have access.  Sometimes, that person is a friend, teammate, or colleague.  Other times, that person is a paid consultant or coach.  Then, I simply say to that person.  “I’m clueless.  I’d like to [fill in the blank], and I have no idea where to begin.  Sometimes, people will tell me they’re too busy to chat with me.  That’s ok.  But most of the time, I get wonderful advice that I can use.  When I founded the American Student Achievement Institute, I started out by scheduling appointments with other non-profit founders and asked them how they began.  During my first triathlon, I found a young athlete with disk wheels and asked him how to set up my transition area.  After losing a lot of weight, I emailed Matt Fitzgerald, a prolific author of nutrition books for endurance athletes, and asked him how to determine my ideal race weight.  Asking for help is 100% ok – and a great way to learn your first step.  

Of course, be sure to feel and share your gratitude.  In my opinion, being grateful is a wonderful state of mind – and expressing your gratitude brings about joy for you an the person who helped you.  Send a thank-you email or small token of appreciation.

One Step at a Time:  Remember, you don’t have to know all the steps when you begin a journey.  You just have to know the first step.  Once you’ve taking the first step, then you can worry about the second step.  After the second step, you can worry about the third step.  That’s the nice thing about going on a journey.  You only have to understand one step at a time.

But What if I Fail?  I love failing.  Seriously.  Every time I fail, I learn what doesn’t work – and that helps me understand what to do differently next time.  Successes are the same.  Every time I succeed, I learn what does work – and that helps me understand what to do the same next time.  The journey to success is not a straight line.  Successful people travel in a zigzags as they implement things that don’t work and then correct.  Think about a football team.  They try a play and the quarterback gets sacked ten yards behind the line of scrimmage.  As the game continues, they learn what plays work and don’t work against their opponent, make adjustments, and then move forward.

In The Athlete Inside, I begin my story with a failure to help readers consider that when failures occur, successful people find a different strategy, an try again.  My first failure was to lose 66 pounds — and then gain it all back again.  Recognizing that my original first step didn’t work over time, I found a new first step in order to move forward.  

I love the story about Thomas Edison.  His teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.”  He was fired from his first two jobs.  And . . . he made over 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before find a “first step” that worked.  Check out this list from the University of Kentucky of successful people who failed at their first step before finding success.


Use my online tool, Start Your Journey, to describe each foundational element in your Change Formula including Knowledge of the First Few Steps.

Next Wednesday’s Words:  BELIEF IN SELF

Road to Worlds 2021 . . .

Runner’s World Magazine Interview!  This week, I was honored to do an interview for Runner’s World Magazine with Sarah Butler.  I must admit that I was a little star-struck.  Sarah is the author of Run Your Butt Off — a book in my personal library!  She also wrote Walk Your Butt Off.  Both are great books!  Sarah and I had a great time chatting.  Her article about my story will appear on Running World’s website in the next week or two.  Runners World will also feature it on their social media which is HUGE given that they have millions of followers.  I’m hoping Sarah’s article will give others hope and inspire them to begin a fitness journey!  I’m also hoping that the exposure will result in book sales = additional funds to help those with disabilities participate in triathlon through USA Triathlon Foundation’s programs.  That would be WONDERFUL!

Virtual Events:  Had fun doing a virtual “Meet the Author” with the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club.  This club is HUGE and extremely well organized.  They do regular virtual meetings with their members and end each meeting with mega giveaways from their sponsors.  I’m looking forward to doing virtual events next week for Florida’s Swim Like A Pro Triathlon Club (founded by swim expert, Sara McLarty) and Indiana’s popular Go Girl Triathlon.  

Training:  Recovery week this week!  Carried a face mask on my easy run and ran a narrow trail that I haven’t run since pre-COVID.  Didn’t see any other people so my face mask stayed on my arm.  Hoping my body used this week to soak up all the benefits of the last training block!  Looking forward to the next block.


2 thoughts on “The First Few Steps”

  1. Sue, thanks again for all of the good advice on how to accomplish our goals. To “Love Failure” is a humorous way to look at it, and takes some of the pressure off of thinking it must be successful the first time. This applies to all endeavors in life, and is an excellent approach to combat procrastination, years long sometimes. Just get up and at least try to do it, which is better than just thinking about it all the time and never accomplishing anything at all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:  Click here to be notified about future blogs. Based on twenty years of teaching community leaders how to bring about cultural change, the CHASE


NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:  Click here to be notified about future blogs. Based on twenty years of teaching community leaders how to bring about cultural change, the CHASE

Vision – Defining the Dream

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:  Click here to be notified about future blogs. In this Wednesday blog series, I share 1) words and phrases that helped me build the

The Power of Dissatisfaction

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP:  Click here to be notified about future blogs. Journeys are not easy.  Key words and mantras can keep us moving forward when self-doubt, pride,