Don't let gum stick it to you

Column by Michael Norton


I would venture to guess that at one time or another, all of us have either stepped on a piece of gum, or if we haven't been so fortunate yet, will certainly step on a piece at some point in our lives.

You know the kind I am talking about, right? It's a hot day, someone has carelessly spit out a piece of chewing gum, the heat of the sidewalk or asphalt has baked it into a soft or even liquid-like substance, and then we are blessed enough to step right on it.

We immediately know when it happens, too. We feel it, we look down at the strands that are partially stuck to our shoe and yet still connected to the ground behind us. We let out a sigh as we crinkle our nose, scowl at the mess, and maybe even utter a four-letter word or two.

How about the other things that are keeping our feet stuck in one spot and that make us snarl with angst as they slow us down on what we really and truly want to pursue? What kind of chewing gum is holding us back, holding you back? Is it a lack of a certain skill or knowledge? Is there a tainted experience or memory that has jaded our hope and inspiration for following through on our goals and dreams? What is causing us to look back or look down at the lack of achievement or missed opportunities?

If you are like me, you also really hate gum on the bottom of your shoe. It's not just the sticky strands and wondering whose mouth germs are under our feet, but it's also about how we are going to clean that mess up.

Here is the better question, “How will we clean up the mess under our feet that is holding us back from everything that we want to be, do, or have?” What has to be untangled and scraped away so that we are free to increase our stride and move with the purpose and passion we once enjoyed?

The tricky thing is that when we step on a piece of liquefied gum we immediately know it, but when we are stuck in other areas of our lives we either choose to ignore it or we just do not recognize what is keeping us on the periphery of moving up or ahead or maybe even greatness.

A good first step is to list all of the things that we want to have in our lives or give of ourselves. Then next to each one list all the potential barriers, all the possible pieces of chewing gum that could take us away from our mission. Are they real-world barriers or just things and obstacles we imagine or make excuses for that allow us to focus on the stickiness and scraping instead of the cleaning up and forging ahead?

How about you, have you looked at the bottom of your own shoes lately? What do you see? Are they full of stringy attachments and forgotten dreams and visions, or have they been wiped clean and ready for the next journey and walk of your life? And maybe, just maybe you have one shoe stuck and one shoe clean, straddling the middle waiting and wondering which one will win the battle of will.

Wherever you are in that part of your journey, I would love to hear all about it at, and as we scrape the gum away it will definitely be a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of


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