You know what’s an amazing story? Play-Doh.
In the 1930s, a man named Noah McVicker, from Cincinnati, Ohio, concocted a pliable, putty-like substance for a soap manufacturing company called Kutol Products. It was created as a way to remove coal residues from wallpaper. But, after World War II, there was a huge transition from coal-based home heating to natural gas, as well as the introduction of washable vinyl-based wallpaper. This made the market for a wallpaper cleaning putty almost completely useless.
Kutol Products was going under and nearing bankruptcy.
Noah McVicker’s nephew, Joe McVicker, joined Kutol to try and save the company. While working for them, he discovered something about their wallpaper cleaning putty: It was being used by nursery school children to make Christmas ornaments.
So, he went to the company, suggested they color the stuff, and change the name of it to “Play-Doh”.
In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Play-Doh in its list of top toys of the 20th century.
You know what else is amazing? Water.
At 211 degrees, water is simply very hot. Nothing more. However, at 212 degrees, it officially becomes boiled, meaning it can now generate enough heat to power machines.
The difference between being a useless mold of goo and one of the best toys of the 20th century? Some color and a new name. One small adjustment.
The difference between being very hot and being a powerful force that can single-handedly power technological machinery? 1 degree. One small adjustment.
I know that, in my own life, there’s been many times when I’ve been caught up obsessing and brooding over the big dreams, the big actions, and the big changes. The problem with this, though, is that I found myself spending all my time thinking big dreams, taking actions too big for me, and trying to make changes too big in scale for where I was at the time instead of actually getting anything done, or making any real progress.
But, one thing I’ve been doing recently is trying to, every day, make at least one small adjustment to my life that can improve it and make it work better in some way.
A) Instead of answering emails when I’m already in bed for the night, just turn the damn thing off and get an extra hour of sleep.
B) Exercise first thing in the morning instead of doing it in the evening when the day is already over.
C) If I can get something done on Monday, but can get away with doing it on Tuesday, get it done on Monday.
D) Meditate for an hour as opposed to only 30 minutes.
E) Keep a small notepad with me everywhere I go so that I can write down any ideas that pop into my head.
F) Read two books a day instead of one.
G) Write two blog articles a week instead of one.
H) Write 10 pages of my book a day instead of 5.
Over time, each small adjustment compounds. Each small adjustment that compounds turns into momentum. Momentum takes a teeny tiny snowball and turns it into a rolling ball of ultimate snowy power!
By going to bed one hour earlier, I can get up one hour earlier, getting a head start on each day, which allows me to get more done.
By exercising first thing in the morning instead of doing it in the evening, I can get a great energy boost that can carry me throughout the day, which allows me to work better and longer.
By getting something done on Monday, instead of waiting until Tuesday, I open up my Tuesday, allowing me to get more productive things done that day as opposed to wasting time doing something I could have finished Monday.
By taking the extra 30 minutes to meditate, I can clear my mind that much more, allowing my mind to function that much clearer.
By keeping a notepad with me everywhere I go, I can capture valuable ideas on the spot and not risk forgetting them later, giving me more valuable content to potentially create.
By reading two books a day instead of one, I double my knowledge and, over the long term, acquire it in half the time.
By writing two blog posts a week instead of one, I go from writing 52 posts a year to 104.
By writing 10 pages of my book a day as opposed to 5, I can write 70 pages a week as opposed to 35.
See that? Small adjustments compounding into huge leaps in progress. Crazy!
You know what else I’ve noticed about intentionally making small adjustments? I feel more in control. I feel like I’m having a direct impact on my day to day actions and day to day life. Before, when I was spending my days daydreaming, or trying to do things too big too soon, I felt helpless and completely out of control.
Cars are built the same way, aren’t they? It ends as a giant metal vehicle that can move at over 100mph. But, it starts as one small piece. Then, it moves down the assembly line, and as it moves, one small piece gets added at a time, until eventually, it’s complete.
I think a person’s life, and their successes, are built the same way. We mostly just see the end result, but what we don’t see is the day to day; the small additions and the small adjustments that get made along the way, until eventually, we end up where we always wanted to be.
I’m not sure it works any other way.
How about you? What small adjustment can you make that can help make your life work just that little bit better?
Could you go to bed one hour earlier and wake up one hour earlier?
Could you take one extra walk outside a week?
Could you squeeze in that one healthy smoothie a day?
Could you get that work project in one day earlier?
Could you improve your overall mood with one more smile?
Whatever small adjustments you can make in your life, go for it! It’s totally worth it.