Both in personal life and business, there is often too much focus on where we are right now vs where we are heading.
I would argue that the trajectory of the change that’s happening, as well as the rate of change, are far more important than the current situation.
This is because even relatively small changes, compounded over a decent time frame, can bring huge results, regardless of your starting point.
This is difficult to grasp because the human mind has not evolved to understand exponential changes intuitively.
For instance, if you fold a piece of paper 50 times, you might guess that you would get a piece of paper that’s a few dozen centimeters high, or perhaps a meter or two.
The real answer is quite shocking.
Let’s think this through. Each time we fold the piece of paper, we are essentially doubling the thickness. Mathematically, we can express this 250 pieces of paper — or two multiplied by itself 50 times, multiplied by the original thickness.
This gives a result that is approximately 1 quadrillion or 1,000,000,000,000,000.
The final answer? The folded piece of paper would be thick enough to reach the Sun from Earth.
And so it is with personal and organizational change.
A small 1% improvement in your habits, or in how an organization works, does not seem to make much difference.
Yet, if you repeat this each and every day for a year, you’ll see an over 30 fold improvement. Of course, it rarely quite works that way as exponential change also becomes much harder over time.
It is difficult for financial managers of large wealth funds to get similar returns to smaller funds because they have to make so much more money each to make the same percentage return.
That said, even if the exponential improvement in your personal life or organization change flattens out somewhat, it will still be an improvement well worth making.
So, the thought for today is to think less about where you are starting from, and think more about which direction you’re heading in — and how quickly.