Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Multiplier Effect

There's a mock German expression that goes something like this, "Ve get ztoo soon alt, und ztoo late schmart". The older I get, the more true that saying rings.

This morning something else occured to me - the way there's a huge multiplier effect leading up to the results of daily life. Little is left to chance. Much more is the result of a lot of either good or bad choices adding up to major life outcomes.

Little mistakes add up to big problems. And doing the little things right adds up to big wins. A perfect microcosm of this we see on little league baseball fields.

A bloop hit lands over the shortstop's head. Instead of retrieving the ball and throwing it back to the pitcher, the shortstop tries to throw behind the runner for an out. Except the ball gets away from the first baseman and the runner advances to second. Then the first baseman, trying to throw out the runner, throws the ball into the outfield, and the runner scores.

One little mistake leads to another, and another, until, before you have time to think, the game is lost.

The opposite also holds true. Doing little things right leads to long term wins. I teach music lessons and see the results of consistent, manageable sized chucks of practicing. When a student practices just a few minutes a day, by the time the next lesson rolls around, there is improvement. And the student builds confidence.

Instead of playing a video game or watching TV, the student does 15 or 20 minutes of practice. They progress toward their goal of becoming a proficient musician. 20 minutes of TV watching or music practice? It's a choice. It's a small choice, but it's a choice. And the cumulative effect of all those small choices leads to a big win - success as a musician.

Consistently pull a few weeds in your yard each week or prune a tree or a bush, and over time, you have a beautiful yard. Not spend those extra 20 or 30 minutes a few times a month, and soon you'll have one of the worst yards on your block.

It's all about practice, not immediate results. It's about the road you're on and where it's taking you. The thing is, we choose a road without knowing where it's headed, and in making that choice, we shape our own future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would agree with you. I also think that "karma" has something to do with it. So far I consider myself lucky.