We all crave excellence, but sometimes our BIG ideas can seem unattainable. That’s when we need to remember the power of incremental baby steps.
The continuous improvement formula for excellence is simple:
- Choose something that is (or used to be) popular.
- Add a splash of something new.
- You’ve got an appealing new option based on your fresh twist!
If something is too different, we may have a tendency to reject it out of hand because we find it hard to relate to or it feels unachievable. But if a product, service or activity is simply a new spin on an old favorite, it’s familiar enough to be embraced, yet new enough to be enticing.
Here’s one of my favorite examples. Years ago when I was focused on letting go of excess pounds and becoming more fit, a personal trainer made a suggestion. Over a period of months, I had been consistently walking on the treadmill at a good pace and significant incline for 30 minutes six days a week. I had lost 40 pounds and was enjoying much greater energy. When a trainer suggested I stop holding onto the handrails to more effectively engage my core and stabilizer muscles, I balked. I knew that if I didn’t hold on, I’d have to reduce my pace and incline to keep from falling. If I did so, I was afraid I’d have to double the length of my workout in order to avoid regaining the lost weight and continue losing.
As so often happens, FEAR was holding me back from an even bigger breakthrough.
The trainer assured me that the need to slow down would be temporary and that after a week or two, I’d be right back to my usual workout level. Meanwhile, by working my core more effectively, my workout would become even more efficient and I’d increase my overall strength and stability, helping me avoid one of the major health risks of aging–falling and breaking bones.
I got myself over the initial hurdle by committing to trying it for just two weeks. I promised myself that if after two weeks, I didn’t like it for any reason, I could go back to my old approach. The first day I had to reduce my speed from my usual five mph to just one mph and my incline from five percent to zero. I got through the 30 minutes with a good bit of wobbling and moments of touching the handrails with a finger to be sure they were still there if I really needed them. Within a week I was humming along without holding on at all. In two weeks, my speed and incline had returned to my previous level.
What a sense of accomplishment! I didn’t have to work any harder to get even greater benefit from my current investment of energy. I just needed to be willing to take an incremental baby step in a slightly different direction.
When you start to pay attention, you’ll notice this approach everywhere, from social networking sites to cell-phones, cars to vacation hot spots, workout equipment to fitness regimens. Many great things aren’t completely new, they are just a step ahead of what came before. Demonstrating once again the power of baby steps! When something is too extreme, FEAR can stop us in our tracks. But a little twist here and there smooths our way, perks up the mundane and amplifies our empowerment.
What small shift will YOU make TODAY to expand your world and inspire yourself and those around you to greatness?