Brain Bike

Steve Jobs had a thing about bikes.

He’s well known for choosing a velocipede as his mode of transport when exploring a city.

Even more famously (and somewhat ironically), he was noted for calling the personal computer a “bicycle for the mind.”

At the time, it was difficult enough to fit a computer into a garage, let alone your pocket.

But Jobs was talking about evolution and efficiency.

Humans are very average at converting food into movement until you put us on a bike. Then we can go further and faster on fewer calories than any other animal.

Now that we can fit the computing power of the planet into our pocket, we can achieve an incredible amount with the mere lift of a finger (or thumb).

We can move the world — without moving our ass out of bed.

Eat that dust, evolution.

Condo Creators

People have worked remotely for thousands of years.

Before the Industrial Revolution, women in cottages across the land wove wool into cloth and sold it to manufacturers who turned it into clothes.

Technology developed, and it was more profitable to have everyone weaving together, so the factory was born.

Two hundred years later and we are going back to our homesteads.

Technology has spawned a new breed of the industry: cottage creators. Or perhaps, more aptly, condo creators.

Individuals or small groups can now produce content as well (or better) than most major studios and publishing houses.

Watching 5-a-side pick-up games on YouTube is more fun than the big leagues in many ways. We can even save lives with memes.

Supporting upstart musicians, independent journalists, and Instagram artists creates an explosion of cultural diversity and creativity that makes the Renaissance look barbaric.

It’s a part of an unstoppable wave of economic adjustment that will leave society unrecognizable in fifty years or less.

As we automate more tasks, we will need more entertainment, more ideas, more stories and more games than ever before. Or things could get nasty.

Now is your chance.

Save the human.

Get making.

Shoot

We saw it a lot last month, those golden moments of failure.

Athletes who tried their best and didn’t perform as they or we expected.

We saw many Olympians who spent the last four years or more preparing for that moment and found themselves wanting on the day, for whatever reason. That’s the way it goes.

On my bad days or weeks, it’s often a struggle to get out of bed, let alone perform on the world stage. But on their bad days, they still show up.

They shoot their shot anyway, knowing it will fall short. Accepting that this time, it’s just one more leg in their journey to the top of the podium.

And then they get up tomorrow and do it again.

In Your Stride

We’re not all in the same race.

Some of us aren’t even running in the same direction.

So, there’s no point judging our pace by looking at other people.

When a wall or a river crosses the path, we all tackle them in our own way. Some people are better swimmers, while others can race up a wall like a gecko. Others are swimming upstream.

When an obstacle crops up, the best we can do is tackle it on our own terms, at our own pace. Trying to match pace with someone in a different race or different strides will only tire us out.

We can give help and get help, but taking it in our own stride also means realizing that other people aren’t obliged to help us either.

It’s your race when you take everything in your stride.

And running your own race is the only way to win.

Cornering

Even if we’re paying attention, we don’t see every sharp turn coming.

Life is hurtling along at a grand old pace when a sharp corner appears over the horizon—a bend or a twist that we missed the sign for.

Or we saw it coming, but it was one of those cheeky ones that start smooth and get sharper so fast that before you know it, you’re veering across the lines with your ass pressed against the door, praying that the wheels stick.

Can’t slam on the brakes. Can’t stop turning. Just got to ease off the pedal a bit and hold on tight until things level out.

And they always do.

Slip in

The water’s lovely. But it’s not always safe swimming.

It’s easy enough to get distracted when there’s interesting and exciting things going on.

Time slips by. A relentless trickle, washing the sediment of life down to the sea of oblivion.

It only takes a second to slip and fall into the torrent. Or dive right in.

To let go.

To let life carry us where it decides, and to hell with fighting the tide.

Before we know it, we’re a long way from where we started, and even further from where we want to be.

And there are few things in life more miserable than wet clothes and a long walk home.

 

 

 

Shirtless

The world is full of convenient stories, and one of them is that other people can help you get what you want.

That probably seems morbid, but the truth is that most people haven’t even figured out how to get what they want. And what we want is prone to change. 

It’s often a struggle to decide what we want for dinner, let alone what we want to do with our life. 

Maya Angelou has a great line that goes, “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

The way I see it, we’re all out here shirtless in one way or another. And as we’re headed on a long journey, there’s no telling what the weather might do on the way.

I’m no Maya Angelou, so the best I can do is, “Pack a jumper just in case.”

 

Easy Over

If it was easy everyone would do it.

If you wanted to do it every day it would be bad for you.

If you always had something interesting to say, it would get boring.

Best to just show up and hack away until it’s over.

And hope there’s something to be said about that.

 

Build Your Boat

How many hearts were lost at sea?

Before we flew, we strung some old cloth to a bunch of dead trees, flung them in the ocean, and clung on tight. Fortunes were made and lost on the high seas. 

Many a maiden looked across the harbour, hoping to see the dove-white flash of a topsail on the horizon; their heart returned.

Most waited in vain. 

The thing about waiting for our ship to come in is there’s nothing we can do about it. We can gnash our teeth and wail and pray and beg, but that only makes us feel better about our helplessness.

Building a boat isn’t easy. It will take a long time, a year or two minimum. There will be many splinters and bruised thumbs and cursing along the way. Even if we finish it in time, there’s no telling that it will float.

And even if floats, that could spell the end for us.

We could drown, far away from where we began, wet and cold and alone and wishing we’d taken some navigation courses while we were building our boat.

But it sure beats waiting for your ship to come in.

 

 

 

No going back

We all wonder what life would be like if we’d done it differently.

We might even wish we could go back to the way things were, so we can do it better or make a different decision; if only I knew what I know now.

If only I’d accepted that Bitcoin back in 2011.

If only we hadn’t walked down that road that night.

If only I hadn’t said that to her then.

But we did. And there’s no going back to change that.

There wasn’t any going back after WWII. Nobody could pretend the housing crash of 2008 hadn’t happened. And the world hasn’t been quite the same since September 11th. Or Trump, for that matter.

But for some reason, people think this time will be different.

Even if we all wanted to, there’s no going back to normal. And the only people who stand to gain by going backward are those selling rear-view mirrors.

It’s time to stop dragging our heels and help push forward.

We’re going that way anyway.

 

Hurry up and Stick

Isn’t it terrifying that you know you could do it if you really wanted?

Deep down, we all know that if we put in the work — just that little bit every day for a long while — then whatever it is that we dream of would actually happen.

It’ll never look exactly how we imagine, of course. But often, it’s always worth the journey.

That’s the real reason behind every act of self-sabotage in my life.

It wasn’t the fear of failure. It was the fear that it might actually work, and then I’d have to actually do the work, and real people might actually hold me accountable for it.

All of that is rubbish. Ancient fear. It takes years of practice before we’re good enough to decide if we want to carry on doing it anyway.

Just pick something and stick with it for five years. No big deal.

The worst that can happen is you get better at it than most people.

And the best?

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you.

 

 

Results Guaranteed

Try this one simple trick. 

Get instant results.

Crush your goals.

Buy this tool or program to unlock the secret; the result; the answer you need. It’s the thing you’ve been missing that will make it all make sense.

But it never does. 

When we feel like we’re running out of time or we want results faster, it’s human nature to look for something that will get us there.

But no fancy or complex or brutal weekly workout can beat 30 mins moderate exercise every day. It just can’t.

If you’re plugging away at something every day, you’re already on the right path. Results take time. That is what time is for.

The only thing between you and that dream is a little bit of patience and a lot more time.

 

Before the dance

As a great pugilist once said, the fight is won long before we dance under the lights.

Just like the race is run a dozen different ways before we even cross the starting line. And the book is written over hundreds of early mornings, with words that are never read.

The training we do every day shapes our future.

What does your day prepare for you?

 

Take it Pro

Logic and tactics are rarely enough to win.

Some days, even if we love doing it, it’s good for us, and it’s worth doing, that rational part of the brain just can’t be bothered to put up a fight.

Pushing through on those days is the difference between good and great.

Doing it when we want is easy. Doing it when we don’t want to is the whole point.

The days when we take it pro and push through regardless of whether we want to or not are the days we make the most progress. 

Because nothing worth having ever came easy. 

 

Kaizen Quotes

These are all the quotes I could find about kaizen and continuous self-improvement. They are mostly related to personal development and kaizen, but there are some about kaizen in the business world too. 

Lots are missing from some of my favourite books about kaizen for self-growth, which I will be adding as soon as possible.

In the spirit of kaizen, this post will be continuously updated with more kaizen quotes as I find them and improved with images and sharable stuff as and when I can. I will also attempt to verify who they are attributed to as much as possible.

My Favourite Quotes About Kaizen and Continuous Improvement

 

“Patience is a competitive advantage. In most fields, you can find success if you are simply willing to do the reasonable thing longer than most people.”
— James Clear


“Average ones compete with others. Great ones compete with themselves.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
— Max DePree


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
— Sir Winston Churchill


“I’m always trying to get better. There’s always room for improvement.”
— Cain Velasquez


“Kaizen is like a hotbed that nurtures small and ongoing changes, while innovation is like magma that appears in abrupt eruptions from time to time.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
— Vince Lombardi


“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”
— Peter Drucker


“There are no big problems. There are just a lot of little problems.”
— Henry Ford


“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.”
— Debasish Mridha


“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.”
— Indra Nooyi


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit.”
— William Durant


“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
— Henry Ford


“Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
— William Pollard


“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
— Author Unknown


“A relentless barrage of “why’s” is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo.
Use it often.”
— Shigeo Shingo 


“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”
— Japanese Proverb


“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better and that nothing is ever complete.”
—Mark Zuckerberg


“There’s no limit to the possible expansion of each one of us.”
— Charles Schwab.


“The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.”
— Bob Parsons


“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”
— Shigeo Shingo


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”
— Joe Paterno 


“The Kaizen Philosophy assumes that our way of life – be it our working life, our social life, or our home life – deserves to be constantly improved.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent Van Gough


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain


“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
— E.J. Phelps


“Learning is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.”
— W. Edwards Deming


“Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen.”
—Taiichi Ohno


“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
— Robert Collier


“Kaizen means ongoing improvement involving everybody, without spending much money.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well — that’s work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about.”
— Bruce Hamilton


“If a company isn’t continuously improving then it is slowly dying.”
— Dave Waters


“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”
— Harold Wilson


“Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.”
— Robin Sharma


“Kaizen and innovation are the two major strategies people use to create change. Where innovation demands shocking and radical reform, all kaizen asks is that you take small, comfortable steps toward improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change.”
— Tom Peters


“You can’t do kaizen just once or twice and expect immediate results. You have to be in it for the long haul.”
— Masaaki Imai


“I don’t worry about maintaining the quality of my life, because every day I work on improving it.”
— Tony Robbins


“There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on.”
— Michael Eisner


“I’m never satisfied with what I do.
I always think I can do it a lot better.” 
— Michael Jackson


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
— Mark Twain


“Small actions are at the heart of kaizen. By taking steps so tiny that they seem trivial or even laughable, you’ll sail calmly past obstacles that have defeated you before. Slowly – but painlessly! – you’ll cultivate an appetite for continued success and lay down a permanent new route to change.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
— W. Edwards Demin


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
— Bruce Lee


“Sometimes, the best kaizen is no kaizen at all.”
— Jon Miller


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” 
— Yogi Berra


“We conquer by continuing.”
— George Matheson


“The past does not equal the future…unless you live there”.
— Tony Robbins


“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”
— Elon Musk


“Learn continually. There is always one more thing to learn.”
— Steve Jobs


“Something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.”
— Taiichi Ohno


“If you stop learning, you stop creating history and become it.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”
— Robert E. Quinn


“Success is a process that continues, not a status that you reach. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.”
— Denis Waitley


“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
— John F. Kennedy


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. ”
— Pat Riley


“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
— James Cash Penney


“To make the quickest progress, you don’t have to take huge leaps. You just have to take baby steps and keep on taking them. In Japan, they call this approach kaizen, which literally translates as ‘continual improvement.’ Using kaizen, great and lasting success is achieved through small, consistent steps. It turns out that slow and steady is the best way to overcome your resistance to change.”
— Marci Shimoff


“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”
— Linus Pauling


“There are many experts on how things have been done up to now. If you think something could use a little improvement, you are the expert.”
— Robert Brault


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Even perfection has room for improvement.”
— Ty Warner


“An open society calls itself open to improvement. It is based on the recognition that people have divergent views and interests and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth.”
— George Soros


“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”​
— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam


“Never be so afraid of making mistakes that you stop taking action.
Kirtida Gautam


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”.
— Thomas Edison


“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”
— Brian Tracy


“Persons who reach the higher rungs in business management, selling, engineering, religious work, writing, acting, and in every other pursuit get there by following conscientiously and continuously a plan for self-development and growth.”
​— David J. Schwartz


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
​— Thomas Edison


“No matter how good you get you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.”
— Tiger Woods


“Change is inevitable… except from a vending machine.”
— Anonymous


“Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character. And what will that future bring? I do not know, but it will be exciting.”
— Neil Armstrong


“Control your own destiny, or somebody else will.”
— Jack Welch


“In terms of changes, the spiritual mentors teach me that I must not forget those relating primarily to improve myself.”
— Chico Xavier


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
— Henry Ford


“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”
— Kim Collins


“If we’re really committed to growth, we never stop discovering new dimensions of self and self-expression.”
— Oprah Winfrey


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
— Albert Einstein


“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
— Benjamin Franklin


“An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuous improvements in the areas that matter most.”
— Robin Sharma


“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
— Mark Twain


“Continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing.”
— Michael Porter


“Everything can be improved.”
— Clarence W. Barron


“In order to be happy, human beings must feel they are continuing to grow. Clearly, we must adopt the concept of continuous improvement as a daily principle.”
— Tony Robbins


“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
​—​ Henry Ford


“We are always pregnant with a truer version of ourselves.”
— Marianne Williamson


“The journey is never-ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.”
— Antonio Brown


“Improvement begins with ‘I’.”
— Arnold H. Glasow


“It’s a great thing about being a musician; you don’t stop until the day you die, you can improve. So it’s a wonderful thing to do.”
— Marcus Miller


“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”
— Abraham Lincoln


“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
— Winston Churchill


Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”
— Bob Dylan


“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
— William Shakespeare


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
— Charles Darwin


“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
— Winston Churchill

 

Car Wreck

Progress looks like a car crash in the rearview mirror. 

We catch a glimpse of it and think, “Wow, that was dumb.” 

Or, “Damn, that looked pretty bad.”

Or, “I hope that wasn’t my fault.”

Tempting as it may be, it’s important not to spend too long looking back, or we’ll end up in another one.

Eyes on the road ahead. Glad that isn’t you anymore. 

And just a little embarrassed that it once was. 

Press that pedal to the metal!

 

Keeping it up

Doing it once doesn’t make it easy.

It usually doesn’t get us where we want to go either.

Most diets fail because they are — by definition — short-term.

It’s one thing to throw three balls in the air and another thing keeping them up. One is playing. The other is juggling.

Our bodies are wonderful machines that can take a real pounding, as long as it isn’t over and over again. The same goes for our minds. 

Willpower doesn’t just grow on trees.

That’s why settling for the smallest step, the thing we know we can actually do every day for decades, is so much more powerful than any crash course, extreme diet, six-month shred, or late-night sprint. 

Don’t do twenty pull-ups one day and none the next. Do five every day until you can do them with one arm.

A little more patience gets us a lot further in the end. 

 

Make it Easy

The easiest way to make progress is to make progress as easy as possible.

Mastering a skill is about being so terrible at it we have to practice the easiest part a hundred times just to get started.

Think how long it took to learn to walk. It takes at least three years before we can do it without looking stupid.

The ‘secret to success’ is being able to put up with the boredom of being crap — and falling on our arse several hundred times. 

Break down the hard parts into their easiest possible component and then do that until it’s so easy you’re bored to death.

Forget walking. Focus on figuring out how to stand without holding on to something, and you’ll be running in no time. 

 

Ten a day

A friend of mine recently went on a bit of a health kick.

She started running and being mindful of her diet and all the other things we know we should be doing to be healthier.

The one that most interested me was this: every morning, she would get up and do ten push-ups. Then, a little before bedtime, she would do another ten.

It didn’t seem like much. But then my girlfriend started doing ten push-ups every morning, and of course, that meant it wasn’t long before I started doing them too.

Quite often, your ten little push-ups every day are helping someone else get stronger too. Even the smallest acts can carry great inspiration within them.

Ten push-ups aren’t much barely anything  but they add up over time to something great.

That’s kaizen in a nutshell.

 

Just like always

If you think about it, it’s pretty much been wins all the way through.

Sure, there have been some rough patches.

There have been a couple of pretty sharp shocks and a fair bit of frustration, if we’re being honest.

But there have been some pretty crazy highs too. And some irreplaceable memories.

It’s worked out pretty well so far, all things considered.

Even when the future looked bleak and you weren’t sure what was next, you kept on plugging away, doing it your way.

Just like always.

Recovery run

Training for a marathon is very different from what people expect.

The biggest surprise for most people is that you only run a marathon once — on race day.

The next surprise is how little running you do. 15 minutes one day.  Thirty minutes a few days later. Some days are short bodyweight workouts. And some days are dedicated to lying on the floor and stretching.

We don’t have to run a marathon every day to get where we want to go. We shouldn’t even run every day.

Time spent rolling around on the floor and stretching is as crucial to running a race as putting one foot in front of the other.

Recovery allows us to keep working towards our goal, even on days we can’t think straight, let alone move fast. And that little bit of extra time we spend quickly adds up. 

Allow yourself a little recovery time now and then, and you’ll go much further in the long run.

 

 

School run

It was a strange morning in Shanghai.

Despite its age, the local school had very graciously walked down the street to make room for a new skyscraper complex.

The 7,600-ton building, severed from its roots and mounted on hundreds of mechanical legs, inched 200 ft down the road; without dropping so much as a windowpane.

We don’t always have to destroy the old to make way for the new.

It’s cheaper — and way cooler — to carefully nudge it out the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard decisions

When someone is letting you down they’ll often say something like, “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”

It sounds nice. And it’s nice that they bother to say it. But it doesn’t do much to soften the blow and does nothing to change the fact they’re rejecting you.

What they’re really saying is, “I know this is going to hurt you, which is probably going to hurt me too but I’m doing it anyway.”

And when you put it like that, the first way does sound a lot nicer.

They often mean that it was an easy decision not to…

The easier decision to stay. The easier decision not to say no. The easier decision to stay in their comfort zone.

The shit thing about life is that the hardest decision is usually the right one.

Easy road, hard life. Hard road, easy life.

As they say.

History in the making

It doesn’t take a historian to tell you that we’re living through history.

But let me tell you anyway: they are not joking when they say these are “unprecedented times.”

And it’s not even just history. I’ve read over 100 science fiction books to prep for the future and not one of them mentioned this. Not one. 

Life will never be the same. A whole generation of babies will view the world differently. And we’re probably all going to have PTSD or mysophobia. Or both.

And yet here you are at the end of another week. Another day closer to the end of this madness. Still here. Still smiling. Still living through it all and not doing badly either.

Just making history, as you do. 

Nice work. 

 

Making Mayonnaise

A few months ago, I tried making mayonnaise.

It was a miserable and messy process, but it unexpectedly taught me something about life that I think about every time it comes out of the fridge.

Like doing anything worthwhile in this life, making mayonnaise takes time.

You can’t just sling some oil and eggs into a blender and blitz it. You could try. But you won’t get delicious mayonnaise; you’ll get a gross, fatty mess that’ll never quite wash out.

To make great mayonnaise, you have to mix the oil in ever so slowly, drip by drip. It takes effort. It takes patience. It takes measured, deliberate progress and a wrist with some stamina [insert masturbation joke here]. And you have to screw it up at least once.

Most people just fling their hopes and dreams in a blender, zhush it up, and then go back to buying Hellmann’s when it doesn’t work out.

And that’s fine. Not everyone wants to spend their time making mayonnaise. 

But if you do want to make your own special sauce, get ready to make it slowly.

The best time to plant a tree

It’s strange that’s it’s already been a year since my babies were just small black dots with tiny green mohawks. 

They’re about four inches tall now.

I should explain. At the beginning of the pandemic, I planted six Japanese Black Pine trees to bonsai. Growing a bonsai tree from seed is called ‘misho.’ 

It will be at least five years before they’re big enough to be called a tree, but I figured there was a chance lockdown would be over by then.

Somebody gave the seeds to me and I had no idea when or how to plant them. Google said the three best times to plant a tree were:

  1. Autumn/Fall
  2. 20 years ago
  3. Now

If we want to sit under the shade of a beautiful tree, we probably should have planted it a few decades ago. Seeing as we didn’t, the next best time is right now; late is better than never!

Even if we don’t get to sit in that shade very long before, it’ll make a beautiful shelter for generations to come.

Don’t mind the gap

If you’ve ever ridden the Tube, you’ll have heard a robotic voice reminding you to ‘mind the gap’ as you leave the train. 

Ignoring these words could delay the train, one of the worst crimes you can commit in the capital.

But there’s another kind of gap that we shouldn’t mind at all because it makes us unhappy.

Most people make the mistake of measuring how far they’ve come by how close they are to achieving their vision. We measure the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which is usually not as close as we’d like.

It’s far less depressing if we take the time to measure how far we’ve come from where we started; we measure our gains.

If we’re too busy fretting about the gap between where we could be and where we are, we’re missing out on enjoying all the gains that got us here now.

Don’t mind the gap, except on the Tube.

Wikipedia was tiny

Today, Wikipedia has over 6,229,184 million English pages.

Tech companies and governments use it to source news, fact-check, and fight misinformation — despite despairing teachers everywhere. There’s even a copy of Wikipedia on the moon.

But in its first year, Wikipedia only published around 20 pages.

The gamechanger for them — letting other people contribute — almost never happened at all. But just a year after they’d made that one small change, they had 20,000+ articles.

When we’re on a journey and things aren’t going our way, it’s tempting to give up. But the gamechanger is often just a bit further down the path, around a corner where we can’t see.

A couple more steps forward, with maybe a small pivot, and life can change pretty damn fast.

Doing the bare minimum

Doing the bare minimum is often a negative thing.

But some days, it’s the best we can do.

On those days when all we want to do is crawl back into bed, turning up is often enough to make progress.

Putting in the minimal effort every day isn’t how to get what we want from life.

But if ‘doing the bare minimum’ means showing up on the worst days and doing a shit job, that’s still better than doing nothing at all.

Raising the bar slowly

The current high-jump record is nearly two and a half meters (8.13ft) — a superhuman leap. 

But when Javier Sotomayor took his first jump, he set the bar much lower.

Each round, he raised the bar a little, sometimes as little as a quarter of an inch. Jump by jump, he pushed his body slightly further from the ground, until eventually, he achieved something remarkable.

Set the bar too high and we’re bound to bump into it.

But if we focus on raising the bar just a tiny bit higher at every attempt, we can go higher than we ever thought possible.

Another step forward

Let me be the first to say: fuck you 2020. But also, thanks for your help. 

It’s stupid to think that it’s taken about five years to get to the starting line. Five years of trying to make it make sense and failing and starting again and failing; and giving up, and starting again and failing, and giving up again.

But always starting again, because there isn’t a choice.

That’s what we do as humans. We dream a path, and we start out upon it. We try things out, we invent, we test, we fall, we fail, and we start again. And even when we succeed, we start again because that’s the point.

There’s no wrong or right way to go. It’s just one small problem after another. A challenge overcome here, a step forward there, never sure what will cross our path next but always knowing that we’ll have to go through it. 

Last year was crazy, but now it’s over. You survived. We took a spin around the sun, and you took another step forward.

This next year will be crazy too, but whatever life throws at you, know you can handle it too.

And it’s only going to make you stronger.