#726 The Sorites Paradox

How to Get a Big Heap of Golden (You) Coins

A little while back we had fun taking a quick tour through James Clear’s brilliant brain and equally brilliant book Atomic Habits.

We forgot to chat about one of my favorite Ideas from that must-read book: The Sorites Paradox.

Let’s invite James back to the party.

Get this: “There is an ancient Greek parable known as the Sorites Paradox, which talks about the effect one small action can have when repeated enough times. One formulation of the paradox goes as follows: Can one coin make a person rich? If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you wouldn’t claim that he or she is rich. But what if you add another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him or her so.

We can say the same thing about habits. Can one tiny change transform your life? It’s unlikely you would say so. But what if you made another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that your life was transformed by one small change.

The holy grail of habit change is not a single 1 percent improvement but a thousand of them. It’s a bunch of atomic habits stacking up, each one a fundamental unit of the overall system. …

The secret of getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop. … Small habits don’t add up. They compound. That’s the power of atomic habits. Tiny changes. Remarkable results.”

← 😲 !!!

Quick etymology lesson then quick recap.

James tells us that “sorites” is derived from the Greek word for “heap.”

Now, of course… When you give someone a coin that doesn’t make a very big heap. But then you add another. And another. And another. And… At SOME point, that additional coin makes the person wealthy.

And, so it is with our habits. It’s not, as James says, the ONE 1% improvement. It’s the ONE THOUSAND 1% improvements.

And… (Echo!) Those improvements don’t just aggregate. They COMPOUND.

Let’s bust out our Google spreadsheet for some quick calculations again…

We start by entering “1” in the first little box in the sheet.


Then we Optimize it 1% every day.

Compounding those tiny gains for 1,000 days.

On that 1,000th day, we’re 20,751 times better than we were on day 1.

NOTE: 1,000 days is only 2.5 years, my friend.

So, I say, while standing on a soap box shouting (lol):

+1 +1 +1!!!

P.S. Don’t forget: 1% gains for 10 years = a (hypothetical, impossible to actually reach but jaw-droppingly inspiring math equation) QUADRILLION times better than our current selves. 😲 🤓 🤠

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