By Kay Newton
You may have heard of the story of the chess inventor and the emperor. The emperor was so amazed with the game, he granted the inventor any reward he wanted. The inventor simply asked for rice. But there was a condition – the first square of the chess board would have one grain of rice, the second two, the third four and so on, doubling the amount on every square.
The emperor happily granted this. But it soon became apparent that the chess inventor had been very clever. There was simply not enough rice in the whole world to fill the final square!
This story of chess follows the principal of compound interest. The importance of doubling money through reinvestment to make gains is not a new one. Yet, have you thought of the same principal for your daily actions? It’s the concept of ‘compound actions’, those small step-by-step daily movements forward that generate a huge change over time.
Anyone in the world can achieve such simple habits and I recommend them to my clients on a regular basis. Here are three women’s thoughts on the principal of compound action and how it has changed their lives and that of others too.
Saskia Van de Riet
Saskia Van de Riet originally trained as an engineer, yet it was actually the written word she loved the most. She worked for many years in the Dutch construction industry and then moved to the UK to design hospitals for an international firm of architects. Given the need to be bilingual, it seemed a natural progression for Saskia to train and work as a translator, and for the next 14 years this became her career. It took Saskia nearly 50 years to realise that writing was also in her blood.
She says, “My love of writing wasn’t conscious. It has been something I could not stop, a part of who I am. I have always loved writing and the written word itself, yet it took time for it to occur to me that this is where I feel most at home. Writing, to me, was a way of communicating, yet I never felt safe to express my inner truths directly onto paper. When I wrote my real truths, my life changed.”
Today Saskia helps other female entrepreneurs to also write from their heart and tell their real truths even if it feels scary. One of her leading mottos is, “Don’t let your thoughts lead your writing, let your writing lead you.”
The compound action of writing constantly created Saskia’s own transformation. “The more insight I get about writing, the more insight I get about myself. The compound writing action means that the more I write, the better the writing becomes, and I become a better person too. With this experience I can help others write too.”
Saskia’s writing business, which first started by helping others solely with blog writing, has now expanded to authentic content writing that engages and converts clients into loyal customers.
“What makes me truly happy is to teach and guide female legacy entrepreneurs in step-by-step actions, to create content for their business in an intuitive way so they can live, love and leave their own legacy,” she says.
Griselda Cann Mussett
“If you had said to me at 20 that I would be fortunate enough to afford to buy paintings, sculpture and artworks of different kinds each month, over 50 years, and create a large art collection, I would have laughed. Today my baby passion has taken on a life of its own. I am of course looking at this from very different eyes now, aged 70.” Those are the words of Griselda Cann Mussett, artist, writer and “laughaholic”.
In the past, Griselda has worked for the BBC, and often found herself in situations where she did not agree with others yet she did not have the self-possession or courage to say ‘I don’t agree with that’.
“I barely had the courage to say anything to myself! I have learned it using compound actions. Not to bully or be bullied, not to be driven by a group-think, not to follow the crowd, not to compete about displaying riches – these were all frustrations in my life. It wasn’t until I began to steadily reinforce and increase my courage and ability to stand up for what I believe in did my life change. By taking baby steps I was able to start by first leaving the room or withdrawing from the situation,” she says.
Griselda’s ability to stand up for herself got stronger with time. So much so that she has passionately supported her local community, setting up three successful organisations. She elaborates, “With years of practice, I have learned that it’s a good idea to let go of expectations in some ways as you do not know what the outcome of your compound action will be. It often leads to things you never anticipated. You have no idea how much you can achieve with compound daily actions. Whether it’s putting a few coins into a jar, or tidying just one shelf, what starts off difficult will become easier as your mind and body get used to it.”
Griselda also has a word of warning: Time itself is compound, it is incremental. “When you are young, you do not know how the days will add up. Have the courage to be yourself. I am now beginning my own journey as an artist and I had no idea that I would feel like a teenager again!”
Trina Kavanagh Thomas
Trina is shaping a revolutionary movement to enhance the health of 100 million men, women and children, no mean feat in itself, yet her compound actions have meant things have really taken off in the last 12 months.
The UK-based former personal trainer and founder of Trinity Health says, “This year has been life-changing. In May, I decided to take an online challenge and failed within the first few days! So I regrouped and promised myself that whatever challenge came my way next, I was going to take it wholeheartedly and run with it. It never occurred to me that diligently doing the work of the Brand Builder Challenge, every single day for 30 days, would mean I actually won first place!”
From that moment on, Trina’s life became “wonderfully crazy”. “I have met the most amazing people, who have all just slotted into my life. If you had told me less than a year ago that I would have gone from becoming a co-author, to getting UK NHS doctors moving during a wellbeing event, and creating a coaching academy with world experts, I would not have thought it possible.”
She goes on, “Working on myself every single day led me to quit my eight-year personal physical training business, despite feeling scared of having nothing. I took the massive gamble and jumped.”
Though Trina had coached thousands of people, standing up in front of new crowds always left her with anxiety. “But now I push myself forward into the unknown without skipping a heartbeat,” she affirms.
The little steps, every day, have helped Trina work through anxiety, depression, money and family issues. For her, discipline and compound action are synonymous. Trina has now created her own personal daily self-care challenge, and says, “Structure is key; it has to be worked on daily, each strategy defined in small steps. These steps enable me to have better space in my diary to connect with other people. Supporting others through their own journeys can create a positive wave effect everywhere.”
Trina adds, “The compound action of helping others is a wonderful way to change the world. It becomes the icing on the cake. You can take a bite too.”