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Incrementalism is the Key to Success

Updated on September 2, 2014

The Key to Success

Do you want to know what the key to success is?

Did you know that very few people who inherit wealth are successful on their own. Why is that?

Lesson from Nature

Did you know that when a chick struggles to come out of it's shell that the very struggle contributes to the chicks odds of surviving? The same is true for a butterfly. When a butterfly struggles to be free the struggle strengthens it's wings which in turn allows it to fly away when it is free. We must learn our lessons from nature.

The act of struggling, of falling and getting up or failing and trying again teaches us what we need to know to succeed. I heard someone say once that we should fail faster in order to succeed. Success is not the lack of failure, success is getting up and trying again after we have fail faster and you will succeed faster.


I read recently about the owner of Ikea, that when he was a boy in Stockholm he first started out by selling matches. After he achieved success selling matches he went on to sell Christmas ornaments, fish, pencils, pens and what have you. The whole Ikea empire, a 37 Billion dollar empire, started by selling matches.

This is the formula for success, start struggling and keep struggling and start with small successes and build on that. It's that simple. Unfortunately for most of us we want a get rich quick scheme and seldom are we patient enough or tenacious enough to start small and keep trying. But, for those out there that are, that is the recipe for success.

For Good or for Evil

It works whether you are striving for good or for evil. The enemies of this country, the world and of our souls use a method called incrementalism. The definition of incrementalism is: the belief in or advocacy of change by degrees: gradualism.

One of the reasons that incrementalism is so effective when used for evil is that it is hidden. People would revolt if confronted with huge amounts of evil so evil works quietly, slowly and by degrees. One bad decision here, one compromise there and pretty soon you are not where you want to be and are wondering how you got there. Remember the story of the frog. A frog if put in a pot of boiling water will quickly jump out of it, but if you put that same frog in tempid water and gradually turn up the heat that same frog will boil to death.

The same method can be used for good. When confronted with an insurmountable problem, taking it one day or one hour or even one minute at a time enables us to make progress. It's a workable method for success whether for good or for evil.

Many of us look at a problem and only see how impossible it might be, but if we can take one step, two steps, and three steps in the right direction, consistently, our problems will be minimized and success will follow. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Even the Bible tells us not to despise small beginnings:

Zechariah 4:10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand." (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.)

Incrementalism is the key to success!

Look at a ship, and how big it is when traveling across the ocean and yet a very small utter controls which direction that ship moves in, so it is with us. All we need to do is to begin and continue, fail and get up, start small and build on that.

So, if you are confronting what seems to be an insurmountable problem do not look at the whole picture. Look at what can be done today and do that. Make small changes and those small changes will add up and pretty soon the problem will be gone. Read about how others like Ingvar Kamprad of IKEA did it and follow their example. Do you need more money, read about how others struggled and failed and eventually succeeded and you will see that slow and steady wins the race. Do you need to lose weight, make small changes and keep up with it every day and pretty soon the weight will be gone. Incrementalism is the key to success, now you just have to put the key into the lock and open the door!


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    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Sure..which is why you have to fail faster so you can succeed faster!

    • profile image


      4 years ago from Denver

      You're hub is right on. But at some point there has to be a return on the investment -- that being time, money, etc. Another problem is expectations. We all want to be rich. We should instead strive for balance. And be happy.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Nell, I'm glad you liked it.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Hi Brie, wise words, yes we have to keep pushing but a bit at a time to achieve, as you said that guy started out with matches, now look at him! a step at a time, thanks, nell

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I guess you learn something new everyday, thanks for stopping by "DreamerMeg".

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I have not heard of that term before but certainly, taking a few steps in the right direction is always the way to go.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      As the saying faster! In any case, YOU are not a failure, you are a very talented man. Thanks for commenting Billy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well if failure breeds success then I can expect my ship to come in any old day now. LOL I do believe in what you've written here. I think we all need to experience failure in order to order to fully appreciate our successes.


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