Last year I saw the above video clip played by Octavius Phukubye at an entrepreneurship bootcamp in Polokwane.
The video clip is about two “important looking people” on an escalator when it stops moving. Insisting that they cannot go anywhere, the two people start calling for help and wait for someone to fix the escalator. Instead of walking up the stationary stairs to where they need to be, they cannot see past the original function of the piece of equipment.
The commercial is not providing social commentary of the inability to walk up stairs, but more of a commentary of how people see success. Here are two people who obviously have gotten to high places in their industry and they are unable to see the determining factor between them and their goal. To the outside viewer, the escalator readily functions as stairs. Easily, these two people could put one foot in front of the other and quickly reach the floor they intended to get off on.
So why didn’t they?
Because someone told them that you could get on an escalator and not put in any effort and still get to the desired floor. Because they learned that they did not have to put in any effort.
So the question is: what if they decided to start walking? What if they put in just a little bit of effort to continue toward their goal?
Well, one might say, “They would start to sweat.” And yes, they most certainly would, especially if they had multiple flights of stairs to go up. I think this applies to our every day lives as well.
We can continue to go thorough the motions and get by or we can choose to take initiative and see growth in our lives.
While it seems obvious what the folks above should do, the reality is that many of us are indeed stuck on life’s broken escalators, unable to see that all we have to do is walk right off the escalator.
So instead of waiting for the escalator to stop and having to make the decision then, why not be proactive and walk when the escalator is moving.
Break a sweat, and when you reach your goal, keep going. Whatever it is that you want to do, just keep walking up the steps. While there are outside determining factors that are independent from you, its a decision that you have to consciously make.
It is always odd to me how once you notice something it seems to start to appearing everywhere. Its always been there and you have always interacted with it but because your attention has been drawn to it, it stands out more than it did before.
The escalator demonstrates the necessity to decide when to choose between waiting on things to pan out or to be proactive about our endeavors. When your escalator stops, you can choose to start walking or you can choose to wait until someone comes along and fixes it for you. Hopefully you are among those who choose to keep walking.
The escalator is broken, but that does not mean you are stuck. Fortunately it is the escalator that is broken, not you. You just have to walk up yourself.
Many of us have been trained to wait our turn, whether it’s for the bathroom, a sandwich at the restaurant, or our promotion at work. But the world has changed and the structures that used to propel us forward are now breaking down.
When you have been an entrepreneur long enough, you get used to doors being shut on your face to the extent that you don’t waste time being emotional about the closed door, instead you move on to the next possible door… until one door opens or you decide to create your own door and open and close it as you wish.
There is not point crying over spilled milk, in essence the world owes you nothing… Dust yourself off and move on.
But unlike the executives on the escalator, we have to learn to move under our own power.