When I was a kid there was a lot of motivational material around our home. Most of it was in the form of cross-stitch art. Because during my childhood cross-stitch was a popular form of philosophical expression. And my home was a hotbed of the cross-stitch movement.
Over the past several weeks one of those pieces of cross-stitch motivation has been sparkling my brain again. Here’s the memorable and rhymey message:
Progress by the yard is hard. But by the inch, it’s a cinch.
As an entrepreneur, I love this message, because it reminds me that we can build a successful business brick-by-brick, action-by-action, and day-by-day. As long as we bring the IRS along for the ride.
As a writer, it reminds me that my books and blog posts are created word-by-word. Even my 290-page book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? was created one word at a time. (Ok, so it was actually written one letter at a time, but that would be measured in fractions of an inch, and that makes for a clunky cross-stitch message. So we will stick with words.)
As a coach, this message reminds me that great performances are built on tiny improvements in technique, strength, explosiveness, speed, endurance, focus and mental toughness. These are almost imperceptible individual improvements, that add up, in aggregate.
As a discus thrower in high school, I improved by 30 feet each year. When you convert 30 feet into inches you get 360. Which is an inch of progress every day for 1 year. (While also allowing a day off for Christmas, New Year’s Day, My Birthday, Thanksgiving, and Tubestock on the Connecticut River.)
As a person who wants to lose weight, the inch-by-inch approach translates to an ounce-by-ounce approach. This mindset has made it fairly easy for me to lose 20 pounds in the past 11 months. I’ll be sharing more about what I’ve done to accomplish this as I reach the 12-month mark of my weight-eviction plan. (Unless I accidentally lose all of my weight and have nothing left to type with.)
As parents, my wife and I teach the progress-by-the-inch mindset to our children. It has helped them excel in academics, athletics, music and hair growing.
Set long-term goals. And create a long-term, inch-by-inch action plan. Small gains made day after day add up to big differences over time. Because the easiest way to make great gains is simply by focusing on the smallest increments of progress.
If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.