Linear Action, Exponential Results

Post by

You can’t act exponentially. 

Our physical world is dominated by linearity. You are dominated by linearity. To walk a mile is approximately 2,000 steps. To read a book is one page at a time. There is nothing you can do today to cut a mile down to 500 steps or turn a 500 page novel into 300 pages. Life is not like the children’s board game Shoots and Ladders. There are no Ladders. There are no shortcuts. 

The path to success is one step, one page at a time, repeated over the long haul. 

This common wisdom is poorly expressed in quips and cliches:

  • Rome was not built in a day. 
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • Discipline is freedom.

So what’s hidden in these cliches and how do people accomplish extraordinary results? Take action today. Take action tomorrow. Take action again and again until the multitude of actions feels like meteoric, exponential, overnight success. 

Except it is never overnight. It just feels that way to the outsider looking in. The foreign traveler traversing Rome has no ability to fathom the many days it took to build the city. It’s just there. If it took 10 centuries or a single night, the traveler would be none the wiser. 

It is the same with all success. Linear action – small steps taken consistently – equals exponential results. 

  • Automate your savings to retire early, 
  • Workout 30 minutes a day to be as fit as a whistle.
  • Write 500 words a day to publish a novel. 

My favorite example of Linear Action, Exponential Results is the British Cycling Team. Prior to 2002, the British Cycling team had won 1 Olympic Gold Medal and had never won the Tour de France. But by 2015, the team had won 14 Gold Medals and 3 Tour de France campaigns. Coach Dave Brailsford is famous for his 1% better philosophy. It is the perfect embodiment of small actions. Here are some of my favorite linear actions that helped them achieve their exponential success. 

  • They brought their own mattresses and pillows to competitions in order to improve their sleep and performance
  • They hired a surgeon to teach the team how to wash their hands to limit sick days that took time away from training or impaired performance at competition. 
  • They painted the floor of the team truck white so that they could spot dust and keep the bikes housed in the truck clean and in optimal performance condition. 

Coach Brailsford sums it up this way: “the whole point about our approach is that it was meant to be continuous.” 

Linear Action, Exponential Results.


Quote found at

Share this article on social media


Dave Shepherd

Welcome! This is my online home, 'get started' to get a bit about me and what interests me.
Start Here