I’m the type of person who wants immediate results, instant gratification, overnight success. (As you can imagine, I am regularly disappointed.) I am once again getting in touch with the concept of little by little. How small steps can amount to big changes. Darren Hardy writes about this in his book The Compound Effect.
The compound effect is the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. A particularly striking example is that of an airplane: If the nose of a plane is pointed just 1% off course when it leaves LA headed for New York, it will end up in Delaware once it gets to the East Coast. For reference, that’s about 188 miles off course.
The thing is, little by little, baby steps, whatever you want to call them, aren’t sexy. They’re not fun. It’s much more exciting to make big, drastic changes than it is to make small, modest ones. We love hearing about people plucked from obscurity – the model who was scouted at the mall, the first-time actor starring in a blockbuster. But the reality is most people toil away for years before they have their big break, if they ever have it at all. Many of us are seduced by YouTube videos that promise you can drop a dress size in a week if you do the person’s workout every day. But it’s not true. That’s too soon unless you’re also starving yourself.
The reality is consistency is the key to success. Tony Robbins reminds us, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” The things that have shaped my life in the biggest ways – meditation, yoga, recovery – I’ve not only done consistently, but also gradually. I starting meditating just once a day for 5 minutes and then gradually built up. I went to one recovery meeting once a week. I didn’t dive into a 10-day meditation retreat, nor did I attend six meetings in one day. Some people do both of those things, but for me, that doesn’t work because I get overwhelmed, burnt out, and then I quit.
Sure, grand gestures are fun and exciting, but it’s the little actions every day that make a lasting impact. For today I’m reminding myself there is value in the small things. In doing things one day at a time, little by little. I’m again reminded here of vast canyons that are created by water wearing down rock little by little, day by day. Little by little adds up to something beautiful and grand, and right now is the time for me to practice that, knowing eventually I’ll see the results I’m looking for.
I dream of a world where we focus on small choices just as much, if not more, than the big ones. A world where we keep in mind the compound effect and remember constant and steady actions can add up to something amazing. A world where we honor the power of little by little.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.