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Many years ago, there was a video out, I believe it was produced by Hungry Man Dinners. And the title was the NFL’s Hungriest Men. One of the featured athletes was my favorite player that I had the opportunity and blessing to watch play the game, Walter Payton. Although I was a Minnesota Vikings fan and he was a Chicago Bear, meaning we were rivals, he was just too good and a very special man and player.

Walter could run around a defender, juking his way down the field. Walter could also run through and over a defender regardless of size, he was fast, strong, and elusive. His nickname was “Sweetness.” So well deserved as it was truly sweet to watch him play. He was also a very caring man, but that was not how he earned the nickname sweetness. The story is that during a college football practice he eluded a would-be tackler and yelled back at him, “Sweetness is your weakness.”

In the video I am referring to, they captured a part of Walter’s workout routine, running hills. If any of you reading this remember your high school or college playing days, you remember we ran hills and we ran bleachers. The agony was dreaded, but the payoff worth every step up the hill or stairs. Here is Walter Payton, recognized as the greatest or one of the greatest to ever play the game. How did he get there? He climbed hills.

Right now, we are all climbing hills and we either recognize it and climb no matter how tired we are, or we give up, letting the hill win. If we give in, just like the “house” always wins in a casino, the hill will always win too.

And I know for some of us, the hill seems more like a mountain than it does a hill. And as we look ahead at what seems like a mountain instead of a hill, this could mean that we see ourselves in a valley, and we can easily become discouraged. When I have been there myself, I lean into this quote by Fred Smith, “The fruit we grow in the valleys of despair is the food we will eat on the mountaintop.”

In the past two columns I shared how changing our thoughts and/or our actions will change the outcome of anything we are endeavoring to do. And sometimes, no matter how positive we keep our thoughts, or the effort or actions we apply, there are times when we need to tap into those extra reserves of positivity and effort to reach the outcome we desire most, so we climb the hill.

Whatever our hill is, our faith, our family, our friends, our fitness or health, or our finances, we must keep climbing. We can climb harder to grow deeper in faith. We can climb with more commitment to our family and friends. We can climb farther when it comes to our fitness and health. And when it comes to our finances we can climb with greater

discretion in our savings and spending.

Climbing the hills and going deeper in faith; get back into regularly attending church, participate in a Bible study or devotional group. Climbing with more commitment to our family and friends; make it a point to check in more often and be intentional about spending time together. Climbing the hill to achieve greater health and fitness; walk, get to the gym, make better eating, drinking, and sleeping decisions. Climbing the hill financially with greater discretion in savings and spending; create a savings plan, set a budget, stick to that budget, and maybe read one of Dave Ramsey’s books starting with “Total Money Makeover.”

What’s your hill? I know that whatever it is, you have the climb within you. As always, I would love to hear your story at mnorton@xinnix.com. And when we remember that we can climb our way to achieving our goals and dreams, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful President of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.