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The Business Lesson on the Stairway to Heaven

What’s “the stairway to heaven” to you? Is it about God and Heaven? A metaphor for business growth, maybe? I think of the Led Zeppelin song and a picture on the album cover something like the one here. It’s a long stairway heading up into the sky, with landings or stopping points, and changes of directions.  Which is a lot like business, at least business in the front lines of startups and entrepreneurship.

Business is a lot of climbing. Even as an entrepreneur, doing something you supposedly like, it’s still a lot of struggle. It’s late nights and early mornings and spreadsheets and presentations and airports and hotels. It’s worries about cash and hiring and firing, making do when you have to, and building something better whenever you can. That’s the stairway. We hope it’s going up.

The landings are pauses. You stop the climbing. You look around. You check the landscape, taking a fresh look. What’s changed while you were concentrating on taking those specific steps? Are you still moving up? Are there new options?

Are you still okay with your planning? Or does your plan need to change? Are you still moving in the planned direction, towards the planned objectives? If not, why not? And what do you do about it?

And don’t forget to ask whether you are still enjoying it. Is it still what you wanted to be doing with your life? Is it blocking the view of more important things (like people), or, we would hope, helping you help them and relate to them. Have you forgotten everything except the damned stairs?

When I was young, backpacking in the High Sierra, straining under the weight of the pack, struggling up a long uphill stretch at 10,000 feet altitude, I would occasionally stop, relax, breathe, and consciously enjoy the beautiful view of the mountains around me. I would forget the struggle of walking up hill with a pack and remember why I was there. The mountains made me happy. They were beautiful.

Do yourself a favor. Pause. Take it all in. Reorient yourself and your business. Take a fresh look.

(Image credit: Saiva_l/Shutterstock)


  • Scott Asai says:

    It definitely is a climb (especially in this economy!) I think we get too caught up in where we want to go and forget to take time to celebrate where we’ve been. Sure, evaluate whether you want to continue versus take another path, but make sure you’re always growing forward!

  • Linda Nottingham says:

    Tim…you are so on target here. Small business owners don’t feel like they can afford the luxury of contemplating how far they’ve come, but it is such a regenerating exercise. Driving alone is a good time to do it…turn off the radio and just ‘reflect’!

  • Lu Schildmeyer says:

    Bless you for this post. I to backpacked around the Whitney Porthole area in my late teens with my cousin. Those were exciting and beautiful times!
    With my business of 10+ years I am a servant to my clients first and Christ my Savior was a servant while on earth. I know where my stairway leads for eternity.
    This is the catalist that sustains my business, life, relationships, passion to want to help and serv clients and people.

    The business sucess that I have is for one purpose to bless the people I come in contact with in my business, personal, and family relations.

    Thank you for you blessing to all of us!!

    Lu Schildmeyer

  • Joel Libava says:


    THAT was an interesting take.

    For me, it’s been a solid year of being “Dazed and Confused.”

    I could “Ramble On” some more, but, until I make some major changes to my business, I’m afraid that “The Song Remains The Same.”

    The Franchise King®

  • ANSHUL GUPTA says:

    Refreshing post!

  • Gordon says:

    Great point Tim,
    So often we get so focused on what we think is important, we forget about all of the other things in life. Yes, the business world can be very fulfilling but life with family and friends (the things that really count) must always be the reason for the business that we do. Thanks for the reminder.

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