A few months ago, my wife and I had our first child (not the child in the blog page image here).
Now, I have never been a gym-freak, and noticed that my arms would quickly get tired after I carried them for only a few minutes.
I worried what would happen when they quickly grew and got heavier.
Would I soon be unable to hold them for more than a minute?
And how do those fathers I see in the parks who carry their sleepy 8-year old in one arm do it so effortlessly?
Yet in reality, I have been able to keep picking them up and carrying them without problem as they have more than doubled in weight.
Apparently, as their weight increased gradually, a little bit every day, I also became a little bit stronger from carrying them, every day.
A popular version of this story is of the Ancient Greek wrestler with incredible strength, Milo of Croton.
In order to train his strength, Milo was rumored to have begun carrying a baby bull calf on his shoulder every day. As the calf grew every day, Milo would get stronger until he was alleged to have been able to carry the fully grown bull.
He apparently was one of the strongest athletes ever in ancient Greece, winning wrestling tournaments at six Olympic Games. And while Ancient Greece is famous for its stories where humans, gods and monsters exist together, scholars believe that Milo was a real person. Yet his feats of strength may have been exaggerated by history.
(Fun fact for my Asian and Australian readers: this is the Milo that the chocolate milk drink Milo is named after)
What does this have to do with creativity and innovation?
Many individuals and teams are scared of attempting to develop their skills and capabilities, or try things beyond their comfort barrier, precisely because they seem so hard and insurmountable.
They look at people who can perform at a world-class level and feel like they can never achieve that, so it is pointless even beginning.
Yet those experts and world-class performers also started from the same baseline of zero that everyone else did.
They just spent time and focus on deliberate practice to get better.
Sometimes, when we dedicate ourselves to growth, changes happen which are so small that they seem imperceptible every day.
But those changes compound over time.
And over the course of years, we are able to do things which seemed impossible when we were just beginning.
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