Every journey begins with a single step.

Having a journey and taking a step, though, implies there’s a destination too. There’s obviously more to a journey than just that metaphorical first step. A journey has to get somewhere, right? And, what kind of journey would it be if each ‘single step’ was proceeded and followed by a new round of planning? ‘Get nowhere fast’ certainly comes to mind. So, having the destination goal in mind when making that first step is also very important.

Take the step, but know where you want to go too.

What is the goal then? Where do we want to end up?

Obviously, we want to avoid any doomsday scenarios. Surely we want to avert the end of the world. This isn’t the best there is, is it?

The muse is the inspiration, the guiding spirit. The muse inspires that first step, that willingness to make the journey. The muse plays a limited role, though. The muse often exists only in the abstract. The muse is ephemeral. The muse doesn’t, in the end, do the actual work.

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. To be truly inspired is probably the closest a human can get to pure (divine???) thought. We applaud and celebrate the examples of true inspiration in our lives. Museums and history books, the examples of inspiration provide hope for humanity. But, hope realized requires more concrete and tangible stuff than mere inspiration can provide. Inspiration and hope don’t keep us warm, put food on the table, or get the kids off to college. Nope, anything worth getting inspired about takes work to make happen. And, the muse is usually gone by the time the sleeves are rolled up.

So, once inspired, we can look to those that have proceeded us for examples of what to do. In other words, we can look back to go forward. Find the hard workers. Find the leaders. Find the the ones that have made a difference, for the better. Take the inspiration, plan the journey and determine the goal by considering what those that have already succeeded have done.

Obviously, the wisdom of looking back to go forward is derived from the expression, ‘those that fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.’ And, there are obviously things in past history that we DO NOT want to repeat. But, neither is ‘looking back to go forward’ about merely repeating the good things from history. Rather, it is a device to aid in the development of the plan, the determination of the final destination. We can’t only look back. But, occasionally, it is necessary to look back to where we’ve been in order to figure out where we still need to go.

Now, this is by no means a complete list of great people. This is just a quick example of how each of us can look back to look forward. Lots of people have done lots of good things down through time. Men, women, saints and sinners…each of us could populate a great list of great people. And, since no human is perfect, even the great people of history have made mistakes. What makes great people of history worth studying is the one thing…or the one hundred things…they did, if even just in the final moments of their lives, that made a positive difference for all humanity.

So, I picked five examples. They are Lincoln, Ghandi, FDR, JFK and MLK.

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