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Suddenly…

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The GPS wouldn't cooperate with me to get me home on the I-75 from Pigeon Forge, but it gifted me with something better than efficiency. As soon as I saw the sign for I-40 East, I realized I-75 would not be an option.

Google Maps took me down the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. I hadn’t considered the many advantages of taking the parkway route instead. 

Everything was in my favor: the forced slow down, the beauty of the mountains, the curvature of the road. It all felt orchestrated, in a way. When I looked out through my windshield to see something like the picture above, I resisted the temptation to snap a phone photo. 

“You know, I’m just going to enjoy it,” I told myself. And so I did.

I zipped along the road in my Beetle, racing nature to see how much of the sun I could catch. I rode along the curves of the snaking roadway, every new turn an opportunity to look out on the scenery. The sun balanced on the ridge of the mountains.

Ernest Hemingway's words from The Sun Also Rises popped in my mind. 

“Gradually and then suddenly.” 

How true of sunrises and sunsets.  The scene always lingers a bit, as if taking the time so everyone can enjoy it.

Then, BOOM!

It hangs in the sky, unobstructed, or falls into the sea beyond the horizon.

Hemingway's words ring true for most of life.  From our finances, to our businesses, to our marriages -- damn near everything. 

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Failures sneak in when we're distracted and the successes find us when we're focused. Regardless of what happens, it all happens ‘gradually and then suddenly’.

Financial failure doesn’t typically happen overnight.  It starts with creeping debt, dipping into savings for frivolity or unnecessary expenditures. Then one day, you're rifling through a mound of credit card statements and boom – you’re in the hole. 

Financial success is much the same. You make the right decisions, pay yourself first, spend less than you earn -- the list goes on. These habits lead to a 'sudden' comfortable retirement or lifestyle you've always dreamed about.  

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If there's anyone who gets it, it's the business owners I work with. They gradually plant those important seeds within their networks. They nurture relationships with clients and employees. They're deliberate in their attention. They're sensitive to others and especially receptive of changes in the market or the world at large.

These aren't sudden shifts, either. They're slow-burning and rhythmic. They take the time to sew and wait. Then, suddenly, they've achieved or exceeded their goals. They blow their own expectations out of the water.

We’ve all heard stories about the flip-side: a frazzled owner hasn't kept their finger on the pulse. They get distracted and see the little dips in business as innocuous. The subtle decline gains momentum and snowballs into a disaster -- it feels so sudden. Of course, it wasn’t.

Marriage is no different. I know people with great marriages who are planning a renewal of their nuptuals .

I also know plenty whose marriages are teetering ever-closer to the divorce decree. It may seem sudden to outsiders -- even to those involved -- but these things all start gradually.

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I can go on and on with examples, but you get it, right?  My business-owner clients who are just getting started have something in common. They often get frustrated with the waiting. They want things to start up, finally, so they can go on their way to success. But it's not that easy, of course. It's not often that quick.

Don't desire the grasswhen you can have the tree.

Keep going.

Keep those habits you are creating. Keep your momentum. Stay accountable to your goals but don't burn yourself out.You can't make life move faster.

It may seem slow now, but one day you will wake up and realize that ‘suddenly’ you have built the business of your dreams.

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