The Game of Inches

“Faith is the ability to step back and imagine your life as an enduring work of art before it’s fully created. Commitment is the discipline to zoom in and start creating it.” 

In 2005 Alex Tew earned a million dollars, one pixel at a time. The student from Wiltshire, England, wanted to raise money for his education by selling space on his home page for  $1 per pixel. On a full sized display monitor the pixel blocks he sold measured about one inch. His clients provided images, a click-through URL and a short message that displayed when you held your mouse over the graphic.

His was a game of inches.

When we commit to something, results are never instantaneous. In fact, initial progress feels painfully slow. But if we keep pushing, inch by inch, we can move mountains.

My excellence mentor, Jim Collins, envisions the progress from Good to Great in terms of a huge fllywheel. “Your job,” he writes, “is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum—mass times velocity—is what will generate superior .. results over time.”

This game of inches begins with one simple act. As the great success coach Tony Robbins notes, “The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them, you immediately begin to create momentum.”

Take that first step, then another, and another. If you’re entering a new life arena, you’ll suffer from the blindness of inexperience, and bang into some boulders or fall in a few holes along the way.

That’s normal. What is sadly not normal is how the majority of people react to obstacles: They give up.

We assume that only smart people succeed. That ain’t necessarily so. There’s a great quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Einstein understood the game of inches.

It’s a game that is played in multiple directions. Two steps forward, one step back. Advancement, plateau, setbacks, break throughs, all of these are the stuff of the game. Keep pressing on and the flywheel that drives significant, sustainable, positive change will begin to gain momentum.

“When people begin to feel the magic of momentum,” Collins says, “when they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed—that’s when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push.”

Help just one person move an inch in the direction of their dreams and you’ll attract the attention of others. Some will seek your energy to help them push on a different vector. Some will push back. Others will stand beside you and push with you, in the same direction. Keep pushing the flywheel and inches become feet, feet become miles and before you know it, you’re on the fast track to making your vision a reality.

Why is understanding this concept so important?

Because there will be days when you feel like you’re not making a difference. You may think that your work is unappreciated, that you are misunderstood and nobody of consequence believes in you. People who attempt big things often fail big along the way. You will too.

The difference between the household names we associate with success and the rest of the world is that all of these people felt all of these dark things.. and didn’t give up. As the old saying goes,“Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.”

Think of your life as a blank computer screen. The way you populate the pixels will weave the tapistry that will become your legacy. Faith is the ability to step back and imagine your life as an enduring work of art before it’s fully created. Commitment is the discipline to zoom in and start creating it.

Inch by inch.

I highly recommend Jim Collins’ new book: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. It’s his long awaited follow-up to Good to Great and it’s well worth the read!

If you haven’t yet acquired your copy of The Spartan Life, there’s never been a better time. To celebrate the launch of Amazon’s new family of Kindles. I’ve reduced the digital price to just 99 cents. Get yours right now, here. If you already have a copy, hit the “Give as a Gift” button and pass it on! 99 cents can change a life. Let’s do it together!