The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. — Lao Tzu
When I was a little girl, I had a goal. There was something that I wanted to do. All these years later, I don’t even remember what it was that I wanted. I just remember how badly I wanted it, and how completely overwhelmed I was at the task. I didn’t want to give up, but I had no idea how to reach the end result. My Dad told me to take baby steps, and then just keep putting one foot in front of the other. He helped me work it out. While I have completely forgotten the goal, I have never forgotten the process for obtaining the goal.
I wonder how many important scientific discoveries have never been made because someone thought the process was just too hard. How many beautiful pieces of music remain in someone’s head because the process of learning to read musical notes seems overwhelming? How many literary masterpieces have never been written because the story remains in the brain of someone who thinks writing is too hard? What if the cure for Alzheimer’s disease is possible to achieve for someone who thinks medical school sounds like too much work? Will the next famous work of art ever be put on canvas?
The biggest task is never completed until someone takes that first baby step—and then just keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
Work is a blessing from God. It is a fundamental principle of salvation, both spiritual and temporal. . . . We are cocreators with God. He gave us the capacity to do the work he left undone, to harness the energy, mine the ore, transform the treasures of the earth for our good. But most important, the Lord knew that from the crucible of work emerges the hard core of character (Elder J. Richard Clarke, “The Value of Work,” Apr. 1982 General Conference).
My parents taught me the value of hard work. I remember wondering why Mom thought the house wasn’t really clean until she had moved all the furniture and vacuumed underneath it. I cringed every time I heard Dad say, “You want to have some fun?!” Dad’s “fun” always involved a rock garden to design, bushes to be pruned and shaped, or a sink to unplug. My nephew will tell you about a “fun” project at the family cabin cleaning out the leach lines to the septic tank. He can also tell you about a job interview when the prospective employer asked him if he was used to hard work, and he told the employer about that “fun” septic tank project, and how his grandfather taught him to work.
Elder Clarke went on to say the following:
To teach our children to work is a primary duty of parenthood. Our children have experienced unprecedented prosperity created by parents who have worked hard to provide what they themselves did not have as youngsters. If we are to save our children temporally and spiritually, we must train them to work. They must learn by example that work is not drudgery, but a blessing (Elder J. Richard Clarke, “The Value of Work,” ibid).
I don’t remember whether or not my nephew was hired by that employer, but I am sure he understood it was a blessing just to be able to relate that story in an interview. The leach line was a tremendous blessing to him that day—not to mention his grandfather. Teaching our children the value of work is as simple as telling them to take baby steps and to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If we don’t teach them the value of work, how will they ever cope with the challenges that are before them? Will our children be equipped with the tools they need to lead a happy life?
Taking the first step is a leap of faith. When a baby learns to walk, she holds tight to furniture for a while until she gains confidence and can take that leap of faith. Sometimes we all need furniture to hold. Family and friends can be great mentors to hold us up until we can muster the courage to take the leap. They can also act as our cheerleaders to keep us putting one foot in front of the other.
Our greatest cheerleader is our Heavenly Father. Reach out to Him for help. Tell Him your goals, hopes, dreams, and passions. Be open to hear His counsel. If you fall a few times, no worries—it’s the process. He will be there to pick you up. Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead. Go for the gold. Take one baby step, then another, then a third. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Work at it—work hard. Before you know it, you will reach your goal. The novel will be written, the symphony composed, the brilliant art will flourish on the canvas, the next solar system will be discovered, and Alzheimer’s will be cured. Believe in yourself and in the talent which God bestowed upon you. Walk the mile, and then walk a thousand miles, one baby step at a time.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.