Do What You Can
I’ve been preparing for an investment conference in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s been a dream of mine for sometime to be able to do this. One of the things I’ll be speaking about is this idea of “compounding”.
I was explaining this concept to my mother as exponential growth. Or, growth that starts off seemingly as nothing. The change would be so small at first, that you may not even notice it happening. But then, over time, the small changes would get bigger and bigger until each new step would be so massive that you wouldn’t be able to keep up. That’s the magic of compounding.
But how do you achieve that? Today I was listening to a podcast featuring the renowned venture capital investor, Marc Andreessen, notable for his part in creating one of the world's first internet browsers: Netscape. The line that stuck out from the conversation was, “Do what you can”. Sometimes when I hear something so simple like that, it just sits in my head for a while, and I sort of slowly dissolve it, like an idea lozenge for my brain.
Do what you can. Compounding is all about little contributions, not the big ones. But as normal human beings, we easily get fooled, and fixate only on the end result. Doing what you can is a nice way to remember what’s actually important.
The “magic” of compounding will take care of itself. That’s why it’s called magic. In fact, doing something to expedite compounding will probably be counter-productive, and actually slow you down. In other words, focus on the process, making little contributions, doing what you can, and ignore everything else.
So, wherever you are today, whatever you might be doing, whatever problem you’re facing, just ask yourself: “Am I doing whatever I can?” And if you’re doing all you can, then just breathe. Worrying about how the rest of the cards will all fall into place will get you nowhere. You need to trust the system. You need to trust that everyone else is also doing their part. And you can stop trying to control things that can’t be controlled.
That’s my message for you today. No more, no less, just do what you can.