Gradual Iterations

The chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great changes of which we do not see the steps. The difficulty is the same as that felt by so many geologists, when Lyell first insisted that long lines of inland cliffs had been formed, and great valleys excavated, by the agencies which we still see at work. The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of even a million years; it cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations, accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.

-Charles Darwin

We have the tendency to underestimate the change that can happen through gradual iterations. Just like humans evolving from single-celled organisms and the slow formation of mountains, we can create gradual but transformative change in our lives.

We see it happen all the time. Someone drops a ton of weight or creates a massively successful start-up from scratch. It’s not hard to imagine big change. It’s just hard to imagine ourselves going through the change. We don’t think we’re cut out for that. We think we’re too old or too washed up. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks or whatever.

Most of all, we can’t picture the path from where we are now to the final result. That’s where all the tiny iterations come in. That’s where the magic happens. Here’s what seems to help: just jump in and get going. Focus on making tiny progress each and every day. Trust that gradual process will be transformative in the end.

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