The Daffodil Principle (DW #955)

PLEASE NOTE: Starting Monday Daily Wisdom will be on summer hiatus until late August. I am taking some much needed time off and I hope you will also find time to slow down, enjoy the summer with your loved ones and be inspired by today’s story to plant something beautiful!
I wanted to end this season of Daily Wisdom by sharing one of my favourite inspirational stories which ties together so much about the power of taking baby steps and enjoying the process.  
Enjoy :)


Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.

"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The...

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The Progress Principle (DW #954)

Here is one more reason to focus on baby steps.

It is called The Progress Principle.

This is Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer’s The Progress Principle in a nutshell: "Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work."
Amabile and Kramer’s research found that by creating, completing and celebrating "minor milestones" on a journey towards a large goal, employees could keep their motivation high and this greatly impacted their "inner work" lives.  

While we often imagine how good it feels to achieve a long-term goal or experience a major breakthrough, we need to recognize that these big wins are great—but they are relatively rare and often far into the future.

While working on a large or long term project or goal, it can be challenging to keep motivation constant and to experience a sense of achievement which feels good.

The Progress...

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Goal setting to the now (DW #953)

Yesterday we chatted about the concept of reverse engineering your goals.
Today, let’s look at this from Gary Keller’s perspective. He calls it "Goal Setting to the Now". Here is how puts it in his book, The One Thing:
"Goal Setting to the Now will get you there. (to your big goal)
By thinking through the filter of Goal Setting to the Now, you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now. It can be a little like a Russian matryoshka doll in that your ONE Thing "right now" is nested inside your ONE Thing today, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this week, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this month. . . . It’s how a small thing can actually build up to a big one. You’re lining up your dominoes."

Keller says "Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters."

How? By connecting this moment to your long term vision.

SO. This is a VERY powerful way (and doable) way to set up success...

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Reverse-engineer your goals (DW #952)

Even when taking baby steps, it may be a good idea to begin with the end in mind. In other words, you have a big goal you want to achieve down the road? Great. Start with that.
And then work backwards through time to right now.  
Need to read 50 books in the next 2 years? That’s just 25 per year, or about 2 per month. Half a book per week. Which you can then do by consistently planning an extra 20 minutes a day (or reading 10-15 pages in the morning and again at bedtime and an hour on the weekends. And perhaps join a fast reading book club.

As a bonus, your mind will be on your side if the task is as simple as a half-book per week or 20 pages per day, where you might self-sabotage yourself thinking about the huge goal of 50 books over two years or even 25 a year.

We will discuss this further tomorrow inshallah. For now, play with this idea. Break down your big goal to baby steps.

This is a HUGE baby step!!
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Micro focus to win big (DW #951)

Have you heard of Sir David Brailsford? A British cycling coach, he became famous for the concept of 'marginal gains':
The principle that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

He came into the spotlight when he took over the British-based professional team, Team Sky in 2010 and declared that they would win the Tour de France within five years.
At the time when he declared this, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France -in over 100 years of entering the race.

So, not surprisingly, people thought he was a bit mad.

Until that is, the British team won it in two years. Oh, and then they won four of the next five races as well!

With results like this, we should probably pay attention to his methods, no?

He did not start by telling them to train harder or go faster. Instead he focused on small areas where they...

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Micro milestones (DW #950)

We are discussing how the journey of self-growth is never ending and the good life is a direction, not a destination.
Having said that, it is still valuable to have micro-milestones along that journey.
Because, according to Teresa Amabile at Harvard Business School, one of the major ways to keep ourselves motivated is to recognize the power of small wins.

In her Harvard Business Review article The Power of Small Wins and her book The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile explains that when we are feeling good, we tend to be more productive and creative at work. When we are not feeling so good, we are not as productive and creative.

Ok sure.

But the million dollar question is this: how do we make sure we are feeling good most days so that we can be productive and creative at work (and be motivated on our journey of self-growth?)

Here is the key which she discovered after much research.

(Amabile has surveyed hundreds of top executives...

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Guiding stars and distant shores (DW #949)

Yesterday we spoke about how the journey of self-growth is an endlessly evolving process. And our role in that process is to keep moving, to keep taking baby steps in that process.
Today let us explore two more takes on this same idea.

The first one comes from Tal Ben-Shahar book The Pursuit of Perfect where he tells us that our ideals are more like "guiding stars" than "distant shores."
When we think we are chasing distant shores, we are focused on the outcome, on the destination (not always helpful) instead of being focused on the journey.
It can be so helpful to think of our ideal selves and the good life as guiding stars. Guiding stars show us where to go, they point us in a general direction, tell us what to do in the moment, which choice to make to go towards our aspirations and ideals.

In other words, in which direction to take our baby steps.
Our second nugget is from Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic...
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A never ending series of baby steps (DW #948)

We have been talking about the power of action and taking baby steps towards our goal.
Now sometimes our goals are very clear and defined and at other times, not so defined.

If the overarching purpose of our life is to live the good life and be the best version of ourselves, when and how do we reach this goal? And how many (hundreds of thousands) of baby steps is it going to take??
Great question! And no answer!! (Btw, have you noticed how great questions never have easy answers :) )
Here is a more helpful way to think about it, an idea also borrowed from Phil Stutz:

We need to embrace the fact that self development and the good life (and every project, thing and relationship within that good life is) an ENDLESSLY EVOLVING PROCESS.

  • Endlessly: As in, it will NEVER end. Nope we are never done working on ourselves. We need to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • Evolving: The whole point of life (according to spiritual teachings and many philosophers) is...
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[Over] thinking and doing (DW #947)

Today’s wisdom comes from Phil Stutz who teaches us this exercise to get out of our heads.  

He says:

  • "Draw a horizontal line. Above that line, put ‘Thinking Space.’ Below the line, put ‘Work Space.’"
  • "You know what the ‘Thinking Space’ is good for?" (do you have a good answer to this? Me neither!)
  • "NOTHING. Nothing happens in the Thinking Space."

Of course, planning, reflecting, taking a perspective, strategizing are all thinking tools which are vital for us to take wise action.

However, using these tools exclusively will not bring about change in our lives or improvement in our circumstances.
The fact is that nothing actually HAPPENS until we take action, use what we have learnt and act on it.
I don’t know about you, but I love to hang out in the Thinking Space.
And need to remind myself to get down into the Work Space. Action Space. And do something. Anything.
Let’s get to work.
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Turning worry into constructive action (DW #946)

When we are worried or concerned about something, it is natural to want to solve the problem. We focus all our energies on trying to think of ways we can make the problem go away.

Now, most big problems are not that easily solved. And when our minds are consumed with the enormity of it, it can be challenging to come up with an action plan that will make the problem go away completely.

Steve Chandler in Time Warrior has some great advice for times like this:

"Replace worry with action. Don’t worry. Or rather, don’t just worry. Let worry change into action. When you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself the action question, "What can I do about this right now?"

And then do something. Anything. Any small thing".

This is hugely powerful. Really. Please try it.

Are you worried about something right now?

Do a quick check in to see what part of this problem is in your circle of control.

"The next time you’re worried about something, ask yourself, "What...

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