Take the Stairs, Not the Escalator

The exercise is great, but the mindset lasts forever

Niklas Göke
Mar 23 · 2 min read
Photo by Tom Sodoge on Unsplash

When there’s an escalator with stairs next to it, which option do you take? I take the stairs. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a big deal. Embedded in this little, seemingly innocuous decision — do you walk or do you stand? — is a whole way of looking at the world.

People on the escalator lose time, momentum, and energy. They choose to wait then they could be choosing to do something. Of course, at times waiting is the right choice. Sometimes, you can use a bit of rest. Or enjoy the moment of quiet with your partner.

Most of the people on the escalator, however, don’t stand because it makes sense to stand right now. They stand because it’s their default to wait. They stand because they hope the world will magically carry them to where they want to go.

Meanwhile, the people taking the stairs know every minute counts. They see a set of steps that leads up a mountain and say, “Okay, bring it on!” They take the obstacle head on and do what they can to overcome it. Instead of losing momentum, they build more. They charge — and their metabolism kicks in.

Of course, there are times to slow down. To assess the challenge ahead, weigh your options carefully, and form a plan together with others. Nothing is black and white, but the question remains: What is your default?

Even if you do your very best, you might not get what you want. So actually, your very best is the least you can do.

Zig Ziglar once said, “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” It’s cheesy, but it’s true. There is also no escalator. If there is, it’s going the wrong way — and you have to run up to get to the top.

Casey Neistat once put it like this: “Life is like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk. Walk, and you stay put. Stand still, and you go backwards. You have to hustle to get ahead.”

Taking the stairs instead of the escalator may seem like a silly little decision, but the mindset shift may last forever. Whatever uphill battle you’re currently facing, which one is it going to be? The escalator? Or the stairs?

Niklas Göke

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Writing for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists since 2014. For free reading and more personal updates, be my email friend: https://niklasgoeke.com/friends

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