Making Footprints

This article originally appeared on my first website, The Simpler Life. I'm reintroducing some of the articles that didn't make the initial transition to

The Grand Canyon was created over thousands of years of gradual erosion. Mountains are created as gigantic and slow tectonic plates bump together. How many of us are trying to create majestic canyons and towering mountains in our lives with one herculean effort? How many changes in diet are left by the wayside after they fail to erase a lifetime of poor eating habits? How many half finished novels lie in drawers and the depths of our hard drives because writing a book ended up being more than a single burst of motivation could handle?

The concept of repeated effort and diligent practice was brought to my attention again after reading about Hua Chi, a 70 year-old Buddhist monk in Tongren, China. He has been praying at the same spot in his temple for so long and consistently that he has worn his footprints into the hardwood floor.

Consistency. Dedication. These are the words that will wear through hardwood floors and will push you toward great success in your own life.



This got me thinking about where I’m making “footprints” in my life. Where am I dedicating so much time and effort that the results will be seen forever? I’d like to think that my writing is becoming a footprint as I continuously and regularly make the "clackity noise". However, sometimes it feels like my footprint is being made in my desk chair as I check Twitter for the 7th time in 2 hours. I want my footprints to be evidence of my dedication and commitment to making the world a better place, not an insatiable desire to check my e-mail.


Think about what you do regularly. Where are you making footprints in your life? Are you literally making "footprints" in your recliner as you settle into your 3rd hour of Call of Duty for the day? Are you okay with that? Are you making footprints in the candy aisle at the grocery store? In your car as you drive 45 minutes each way to a job you hate? If you can make footprints there you can make footprints elsewhere. It's a matter of deciding where those footprints should be and taking the steps necessary to make them happen (which, admittedly, isn't always the simplest thing in the world). But it's only your own effort that can make them. I can't make footprints for you and your teachers can't make footprints for you. In the end, it's your call.

As Aristotle said (supposedly), “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” It can be easy to let one excellent act or project define us. That’s not how it works. Our lives must be built upon repeated acts of excellence, of dedication, and of commitment. This is what builds mountains and chisels canyons.

Only this will make footprints.