“You can paint a horse with numbers but you can’t whisper to the horse like a real artist!” __Madhav SBSS
There is a trend now a days of talking about percentages, numbers and quantified wisdom. Trust me, I love numbers; at MIT, everything was numbers including our restrooms, desks, computers and classrooms. The issue with trying to explain how to live a good life with numbers is like “paint with numbers”. You can paint a horse with numbers but you can’t whisper to the horse like a real artist could!
Only machines might understand what 1% daily improvement really means. To say, “improve your craft by 1% every day” is a bad advice for humans because humans don’t think in terms of percentages when living their day to day lives. When was the last time you said, how can I make my coding skills 1% better or cooking veggie chili 1% better, probably never.
A better way to put this concept of improving every day in every thing we do is to say “put one foot in front of the other” and keep moving forward. I understand this “cliche” lacks the cool sounding percentages, it sounds cheesy and less analytical and it does not say anything about improvement. What does it mean to say put one foot in front of the other when I am learning to paint or swim or cook?
The way I see it, one foot in front of the other means two things, first, just doing it and second, doing it in a way that makes the next step slightly better in some meaningful way, actually doing it consistently is a big win in itself, it doesn’t always have to be about efficiency, it can be consistency or a qualitative improvement e.g.
Can I walk 100 feet more today?
Can I mediate for 1 minute longer today?
Can I read 1 extra page today?
Can I practice violin for 1 minute longer today?
It is as simple as that.