June 1, 2023
3 mins
Cory Levy

You might believe that big ideas require big leaps. The tech industry is full of stories of overnight success, but dig deeper, and you’ll find a series of small steps, not a singular giant leap. This is the power of incrementalism, and it's a secret you should harness.

When you start, you don't need a perfectly polished plan. Like a rough draft that eventually turns into a masterpiece, your initial steps merely serve as a foundation. Too many people wait for the perfect moment, but in reality, it's the series of moments, tiny decisions, and miniature advancements that culminate in the big change.

Look at the companies that changed the world. Behind every "overnight" success was a maze of trials and errors. It’s tempting to want to change the world in a day. But remember, even Google started as a research project. Dropbox began as a line of code in a bus. The initial version was never the final. It was revised, improved upon—incrementally.

Consider the iPhone, often cited as a world-changing invention. While it did change the landscape of technology, it wasn't born out of nowhere. Years of gradual improvements in touch technology, miniaturization of components, and evolution in software design paved the way for Steve Jobs to stand on that stage and awe us.

It's natural to feel the weight of ambition. When that idea sparks, you want to build it all. But here's a thought: instead of aiming for the perfect product, aim for a prototype. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, start now, with whatever you have. The magic isn't in the beginning but in the process. Incremental progress, made daily, becomes exponential over time.

Ever notice how the hardest part is often just starting? It's because, psychologically, we fear the enormity of the task. But break it down, do a little bit each day, and the enormity shrinks. You're not building a mountain; you're placing a stone, one at a time.

And while it's true that some changes need to be drastic, it's equally true that the lasting ones are often built incrementally. Think of it as compound interest for your goals. The more you invest, little by little, the more your efforts will compound and grow.

Incrementalism teaches patience and resilience. Each small step reinforces the habit of moving forward, of not being deterred by setbacks, and of learning constantly.

So, next time you’re feeling that ambition and you’re itching to make a mark, remember: it's not about the big steps but the consistent, small ones. Embrace incrementalism. Let the world be dazzled by your sudden success, but you'll know the truth—it was one step at a time.