Taking The Stairs

On a business trip to Las Vegas last year, we witnessed something that captured our attention. At certain points on the strip, there are escalators and stairs to take pedestrians up and down, from street level to the overhead walking bridges that cross the busy streets. The escalators were always crowded with people being shuffled up and down in tight little rows. The stairs, on the other hand, were never full.

Watching this, it was pretty clear that the stairs were actually the faster way to travel, but they took more effort. We actually tested our theory multiple times and proved it. Taking the stairs, although it required a bit more work and some climbing if you were going up, was always the quickest way to reach your destination.

So stairs vs escalators in Las Vegas… Who cares?

You should, and here’s why.

Sometimes what looks to be the easiest way is not the right way. Using Vegas as an example, all those people on the escalators were taking the easy route because it was the one everyone else was taking. They were simply following the crowd. Robert Frost wrote about this when he said, “Two roads diverged in a wood. I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Simply put, by following the crowd, you’ll get the same results as the crowd. The only way to change your results is to change your path.

We live in a world that is not interested in taking the stairs. Every day we’re bombarded with tricks, hacks, and schemes promising to help us reach our goals with less effort. Do less, achieve more. Get-rich-quick and lose weight fast, all without breaking a sweat. Never take the stairs – they’re too much work.

The reality is this. In a world of escalators that promise pain-free, magic carpet rides to success, the stairs are still the fastest way to achieve what we want. As we’ve learned over time within OrangeBall, it takes hard work and steady effort to create momentum and grow. Theodore Roosevelt put it this way. “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

For us, the stairs represent progress. Our journey over the past eight years has been a step-by-step, one foot in front of the other, climb of the stairs. Like most businesses, we’ve looked for ways to become more efficient and productive, not to be confused with trying to take the easy way out or skip steps in the process. Every day, we’re making progress toward our goals, and we’re getting there faster than we would if we stuck with the crowd on the escalator.


Where are you stuck on an escalator? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to jump over the barrier and start taking the stairs. Slowly moving with the crowd isn’t going to get you where you want to go any faster, and although it takes less effort, you’ll never achieve the results you really want. Taking the stairs really is worth the work.