Quantum Leaps or Incremental Gains?

The difference between the master and the beginner is that the master has the ability to stand in the face of no results for a longer period.

Often we find ourselves looking, and wishing, for so-called quantum leaps in our life; when what we should probably be looking for are incremental gains.

It’s important to remind ourselves that the quantum realm is so minute that it can’t be seen with the naked eye. An ordinary optical microscope can’t begin take the eyes that deep. Physicists must use a powerful electron-microscope to even begin postulating an atom, much less an electron.

While it’s all relative, and because we’re using sub-microscopic measures, we don’t really know how far in the third dimension a so-called quantum leap might be. Maybe instead we should consider how our own experience tells us leaps (a.k.a. gains) are made in our daily life.

Incremental gains change the world.

Learn more about how Incremental Gains Change the World here.

Since we’re looking at “leaps” let’s take a look at the most common and impressive jumps that are possible to make physically.

First, in the unassisted high jump, the world record is 8 ft. ¼ inches, just a few feet beyond the current average height of a man.

If we go to the assisted pole vault, the world record is 20ft. 2.5 inches. Twenty feet, while impressive, is certainly not Superman “jumping tall buildings with a single bound.” And remember, 20 plus feet only happens with assistance.

But for most of us… even these athletic feats are well outside of our physical capability. So let’s bring it down to an even more practical daily level.

Although we don’t like it, even the fittest of us can climb a set of stairs two steps at a time… maybe three if we really stretch. In the grand scheme of things 2-3 steps doesn’t seem like a lot; and they’re certainly not giant leaps.

I remember seeing hundreds of people climb the 1665 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower during my last trip to Paris. While it’s quite a climb, if you take it one step at a time, persist and persevere, and keep your vision, you’ll eventually get there. Is there a metaphor here? Yes… I think there is.

Something to ponder.

Once again, incremental gains change the world.

The Beatles landed their first major gig in a burned out converted strip-club in Hamburg, Germany. The accommodations were atrocious to say the least.  The proprietor also owned a run-down cinema around the corner where the group slept each night.

Their luxurious dark and dank accommodations were three absolutely airless dressing rooms… which had not been cleaned since years earlier when the theater was actually in business.

The washrooms in the cinema toilets was where they made ready each night before beginning their seven day a week schedule.

They had a tough schedule to say the least, particularly by performance standards: 8:30 p.m. until 9:30 first set; take a half-hour break, and back on stage from 10:00 until 11:00PM for the second set; another half-hour off, then perform again from 11:30 until 12:30; final break followed by the last set from 1:00 until 2:00 AM.

Again, this repeated seven nights a week; and when they first began playing, there were only 2 people who showed up to listen!

The now famous icons logged a full forty-eight nights in a row before the owner finally decided it was better to switch the club back to its former glory as a strip-club.

Paul McCartney stated in an interview, “We were always trying to attract people in. This was one of the great learning experiences for us, to attract people who don’t really want to see you. It came in handy later when we were doing something for people who had come to see us.

“The first thing people would look at was the beer price, then they’d look around and there would be no one in the club; and we’d immediately jump into action. You really have to learn that, and by God we learned it.”

Are you thinking?

And remember… this is only a portion of the Beatles story as they methodically and incrementally rose to stardom.

What would it have cost the world of music if the Beatles, one of the most influential bands on the entire industry, and in the entire world, had not persevered?

I think the answer is self-evident.

“From the moment that we first played as the Beatles we knew we were the best band in the world. We were just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.”
~ John Lennon

I submit that for every person that has made significant impact in their particular area of genius, there’s a similar story.

  • Every Robert Downey Jr.
  • Every Stephen Jobs
  • Every Donald Trump
  • And every Martha Stewart… just to name a few.

Please remember, beyond the romanticism and quick fix hype… it’s in the struggle that potential greatness is born. Those who achieve greatness invariably have a growth mindset versus fixed. (reference A Growth Mindset)

I recall after The Secret came out, and I reached a degree of notoriety, someone once stated, “That James Arthur Ray just came out of nowhere. He’s an overnight success!”


Little did they know that I had invested twenty years in struggle, hard work and obscurity to have any semblance of celebrity or notoriety.

It took me twenty years to become an overnight success!

Persevere. Be willing to invest at least ten years in obscurity
to leave an eternal legacy.

Perseverance is not a sexy trait, nor is it a sexy experience. The fact is that it’s downright hard. Sometimes it feels next to impossible. Sometime it feels insane. But it’s vitally important to your ultimate success, wealth, and fulfillment nonetheless.

Let’s be really honest.

Real life is not really that sexy by traditional definition…

But it can be significant. (reference Life Unleashed Live!)

True and lasting sexiness comes in the significance. It comes in the meaning and purpose of what your life is lived for. Please read that again.

I can’t recall a time when I’ve spoken to a live crowd that someone didn’t come up to me and say something to the effect of, “I want to do what you do.”

Truth told you want to do what you think that I do. Because it’s 99.9% certain that you don’t have a clue what I really do.

I spoke in Palm Springs a few weeks back and an over-excited audience member stood impatiently in the greeting line afterwards. I could almost feel her coming long before she arrived.

Her objective was to sell me on why I should allow her into my group mentoring program for free (reference mentor with James) because according to her she is “going to be famous!”

She continued to ramble on non-stop about how hard she would work and how it would be “to my benefit” to work with her (because of her impending fame) and on and on.

When there was an opening (which took some time), and she finally took a breath, I stated to her. You know what your biggest challenge is?


You don’t listen.

“I know” she said and she immediately began at breakneck speed once again to tell me how she had many of the same skills that I have.

Listening is obviously not one of them.

Two great lessons:

  • If you have skills they’re a gift of grace. Work at them. Don’t talk about them. Work at what you’ve been given. Work hard. Let the fruits of your labors speak for you. Persevere.
  • Nothing good in life comes free. If you’re truly committed, be willing to pay the price and make the investment for your prize. Step up. Persevere.

Perseverance is not that exciting…
but it’s every bit as fundamental to success as tungsten is to steel.

There’s a time and place for confidence believe me. But true confidence is exuded not pontificated. True confidence is humble, not arrogant. Please read that again.

From my own life experience, as well as my experience with hundreds of thousands of others, the part of you that has to verbally announce yourself is your own insecurity; and your own fear and disbelief. Something to ponder.

True power and awareness is an understanding that whatever external gifts you’ve been gifted are a gift of grace.

Make no mistake here. You’re given a gift; and there’s always hard work and perseverance involved—always! (reference MGG series)

But even then… many work hard and are not gifted with external gifts (a.k.a. tangible external results).

This does not mean that there are no results… nothing could be further from the truth. There are always results! They just often come in different forms.

It’s the intrinsic results that are ultimately the most significant; and the intrinsic results of doing hard work, and mastering your craft to the best of your ability, are the greatest reward of all.

When this principle is grasped fully, we begin to live for the sake of living versus the sake of achieving. Big difference.

The beginner lives for the sake of achieving.
The master lives for the sake of living and therefore achieves.

When living for the sake of living and doing for the sake of doing becomes a strategy, perseverance is a common characteristic that does not have to be created, forced, or disciplined.

Psychological research proves that those who live the most happy, engaged and fulfilling lives are those who focus on intrinsic rewards versus extrinsic rewards.

The pursuit of extrinsic rewards is the major cause of the current unrest and disengagement of the mass majority. Please read that again… and again.

In our current world model, we’ve lost our way in the pursuit of meaning while being too busy chasing money.

In so many ways we’ve attempted to trade money and materialism for meaning. Please ponder that long and hard—because while they can functionally coexist they are not one and the same.

Focusing solely, or largely, on extrinsic rewards causes us to sell ourselves short in the perseverance department. Because when the rewards are not intrinsically present—and let’s face it, external rewards often come slowly—we quit. Please read that again.

“Success is hard. Find something you love. If you don’t love it you’ll quit, like any sane person would. If you love it you’ll continue.”
~ Stephen Jobs

The autotelic personality (proven to be the most highly functional and happy) sets its own goals and intentions based upon intrinsic rewards. This champion is not swayed by external programming and pressures.

Are you?

Intrinsic rewards are immediately felt and achieved the moment you take the first step of your own choosing. This is true wealth and success.

When you’re consistently intrinsically rewarded… perseverance is a given. It doesn’t have to be trumped up, muscled or forced. For intrinsic rewards are immediate, consistent, and immanent.

What are you pursuing?

Do you quit quickly and easily?

Is persistence and perseverance a given for you?

Are you seeking quantum leaps or reveling in your intrinsic purpose and incremental gains?

Valuable to ponder.

Act, Analyze, Adjust.

Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic,

james arthur ray


Permission to re-post my personal articles is granted with acknowledgment of the author, James Arthur Ray and a link back to this website. Thanks and Enjoy!