Though not technically Step One in any of the dozens and dozens of Twelve Step programs that exist in the world, it has become widely accepted and shared that “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” It’s sort of a rallying cry for any tough situation that we go through in this life. Whether it’s health, relationships, career or any of the vices that we wrestle with, when you seek the counsel of others, it’s kind of “the thing to say”.
During a recent marathon phone conversation turned coaching session, I found myself almost instinctively wanting to say the line. When you’re trying to comfort someone who is going through tough times, our natural instinct is to want to give them something positive to hold onto. Almost as if to say, “Yeah… you’re going through it right now… but you’re winning a little.” Every impulse in my head and heart wanted to play the card. I wanted to give the verbal reassurance that progress was being made. I think I even started to say it a few times. It had finally reached the point where I was almost in my own head more than the conversation. That’s when I had to unload. I told him… and I’ll tell you…
The first step is NOT admitting you have a problem, because admitting you have a problem is NOT a step.
I know… I know… Who am I to contradict a credo that has helped millions? What do I know?
Valid. What DO I know?
I know that a step has movement. We step forward. We step up. We even step backwards. But… we move. The direction isn’t always the right one… but a step always has movement.
Admitting you have a problem doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. It doesn’t require a direction. It doesn’t even require an action.
The first step to running a marathon is not admitting that marathons exist.
The first step to quitting cigarettes is not admitting that there are non-smokers.
The first step to eating healthy is not saying the word ‘salad’.
You haven’t taken the first step until you do something that moves the needle. You can talk and game-plan all you want, but until you take action, you haven’t taken a step. You can spend hours and hours on what you’re going to do, but it doesn’t mean anything until you spend the first second doing it.
Talk is cheap. Step up.