Compound Action

Jenny’s 3p Zoom ab workout celebrates its anniversary within the next week! Witnessing this project uplifted my spirit in the immediate aftermath of COVID.

Now we can see the results from Jenny’s year of leadership. Hundreds have joined her sessions. All of them gained practice with skilled exercise, while experiencing a lovely community. And a handful grew six-pack washboards.

5 minutes a day can do amazing things when you stick with it. For your body and your confidence and your outlook on the world.

I experienced a setback when I first came to Ecuador last November. Due to the altitude, I panted walking up a slight incline. I could barely jog a kilometer. So I remembered Jenny’s example and decided to do something about it, one step at a time.

Within a couple months, regular running acclimated my cardiovascular system to the baseline performance I previously had at sea level in San Francisco. 5K is now the daily minimum, no problem.

If our eyes are open to it, we see the same story playing out in so many ways. One more example: the Human Genome Project. This was a daunting undertaking in 1990 to sequence 3 billion base pairs.

One of the many major contributors to the total genomic sequence was Eric Lander, President Biden’s historic new Science Advisor. I had Professor Lander for my biology class in college, and vividly recall him reflecting on that journey:

“In science and in life, we tend to overestimate what can be done in one year. But we underestimate what can be done in ten.”

Important work takes aim at a meaningful result, which won’t necessarily occur today. It might not happen next week, or even next month.

Learning a new language, writing a novel, playing an instrument, or flying to the moon…we have to build momentum with incremental—often tedious—bursts of effort.

So much unhappiness and stress can be avoided by merely committing. Ignore the nay-sayers and get moving. Decide once to prioritize and focus, for however long it takes. 

The bulletin board at the Chinatown YMCA reminds all the skinny old lovelies on their elliptical machines:

“Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going.”


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