“From a Little Spark May Burst a Mighty Flame”
By CPA Dr. Joseph Nyanchama
One day my mathematics teacher in high school started introducing a mathematics lesson entitled, “Geometrical Progression” by giving us a large piece of paper. He asked us to fold it once and take thefolded paper and fold it over again, and then again, and again until the paper was folded 50 times. Then he asked us, “How tall do you think the final stack is going to be?” There was total silence across the room because no one knew the answer.
He shocked us when he said that the real answer was that the height of the stack would approximate the distance to the sun. He further stunned us when he said that if you folded it over one more time, the stack would be as high as the distance to the sun and back. That was an amazing insight! From this great lesson of my teacher, I realised that we as leaders or human beings must prepare ourselves for thepossibility that sometimes big changes come from small events.
In this article small event is what I call a “step” and the cumulative effects of small events I call “compounding results. For example, the way you win and build a dominating business where you become financially independent and produce a lot of other successful people is by doing it one step at a time. Sometimes you look at the whole situation and it looks totally impossible. When you look at the giants in your business or career, winning may look like a pipe dream.
You need to remember that you are not going to snap your fingers overnight and suddenly be successful in anything that you do. You have got to understand that it is an inch by inch or step by step endeavor. You have got to change slowly over a period of time. If you are a new leader in a certain company, you have got to understand people and dynamics gradually to be able to gain a full grasp of the situation at hand.
In my village when I was growing up, there was a neighbour who had a posho mill with a diesel engine connected to a flywheel. For the engine to start, he used to rotate the flywheel with great effort. He’d get the flywheel to inch forward. He kept pushing and after ten minutes or so of persistent effort, he had the flywheel complete one entire turn. He kept pushing and the flywheel began to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, he moved it around for a second rotation.
He kept pushing in a consistent direction. Finally the momentum of the flywheel kicked in and at some point there was a breakthrough. What was the one big push that caused the flywheel to go so fast?The second? The third? …or the ninth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of the effort applied in a consistent direction. This is what makes me say, “Compounding your results step by step”.
Myles Munroe who died in a plane crash sometimes back – may God rest his soul in eternal peace, wrote in one of his great books that, “In every little boy, God hides a man, in every little girl, God hides a great woman, in them together a generation, a dynasty of generations.” Look at how you were like in a family photo as a little boy or girl. Look at yourself now, a brilliant career or business man or woman. A great leader who a whole company follows. A great leader under whose guidance a nation takes instructions.
This is because you grew little by little or inch by inch or step by step. This means therefore that you can only build a nation, a company or a career step by step so long as you do not lose focus of your great vision. Leaders must learn this philosophy and drop the false belief that you can build wealth overnight. You can’t! Those who try to do so by diverting resources that have been entrusted to them for their own use will soon realise that it is not worth the effort.
Leo Tolstoy in his eleventh book speaks of ancient sophism consisting of Achilles that would never catch up with a tortoise he was pursuing despite the fact that he was running ten times as fast as the tortoise. Why was it so? By the time the Achilles had covered the distance that separated him from the tortoise, the tortoise had covered one tenth of that distance ahead of him. When Achilles had covered that onetenth, the tortoise had covered another one hundredth and so on forever.
This means that no one will ever catch you unless you decide to stop. Syrians in fact have a proverb that says “A man born before you may be older by an equivalent of a century’s wisdom.”Walk slowly if you can even inch by inch or step by step but make sure you do not stop. By doing this you will accomplish great things.Success can be either in leaderships or anything; from daring to take small steps. Julia Carney said, “Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.”
Louis I’ Amour also wrote, “Victory is won not in miles but in inches.” Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a lot more.” Are you willing to do something small even if it means by an inch or a step?Small steps are a good idea. Never be discouraged when you make progress no matter how slow or small. Only be wary of standing still. Edmund Burke said, “Nobody makes the greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” In our country we witness many able Kenyans sitting idle because there is only a little to do.
Do the little which is there. Before you find what you perceive to be big, there is something you can do however little agree with Vince Lombardi: “Inches make champions.” Take one small step right now and don’t ignore the small things. Sometimes a safety pin carries more responsibility than a bank president. Remember that there is only one degree between the boiling point and steam.
As I conclude, I wish to urge you to remember that the rung of a ladder or a staircase in your house was never meant to rest upon, but to enable you put your other foot higher. Dante Alighieri said, “From a little spark may burst a mighty flame.” Having said allvthese, I can authoritatively say, your results can be compounded step by step.