Episode 043 – Inchworm

“Progress is progress, no matter how small. We should never discount the significance of our small victories.”

…and when that mile was met, I said, one more. Like an inchworm, I measured the ground, inch by inch, foot by foot, mile by mile.

Today in Episode 43, we are not talking about failure. We’re talking about the other end of failure; the small victories. The small wins that become the stepping stones that lead to big goals.

And this week marks one of those small victories for The Mind Unset, one I fully intend to celebrate and… I’m taking you with me.

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Until next time… Be nice. Do good stuff.

WD40: Water Displacement formula #40. Or, as you probably know it, WD40

Do you know it took 40 attempts to get the formula that is still in existence today?

James Dyson: Inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Five years and 5,127 prototypes later, he created the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner.

Thomas Edison made nearly 10,000 attempts before perfecting the lightbulb. 

He said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Today on Episode 43, we’re not talking about failure. We’re talking about the other end of failure… the small victories. The small wins that become the stepping stones that lead to big goals. 

No, this is not season 4. We are still in the in-between but today marks one of those small victories I intend to celebrate and… I’m taking you with me. 


What’s up everyone… hello, hello… and welcome to episode 43 and closing in on 50 episodes and in case you didn’t know… today is July 5. On it’s own, not such a big deal, overshadowed by the big American celebration that occured yesterday. 

But tomorrow… July 6… well… that’s a big deal.

You see, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of this very show. Yep, The Mind Unset turns 1… one years old, mama… 

Last year on July 6th, we went live with two episodes, the first, So Many Beginnings and the second episode was my conversation with Portland based artist and YouTube sensation, Dustin Klein.

And here we are, one year later, staring down the barrel of 50 episodes and I can’t think of a better occasion on which to talk about small victories. Those little wins that often get overlooked or brushed aside because we’re hyper focused on the big picture. 

Ask anyone who’s ever accomplished anything significant in their life and they’ll tell you when they looked back or reflected on the accomplishment, be it a physical challenge, a personal goal, a finacial one…whatever… 

It wouldn’t have been possible without many, many failures and smaller goals being met. The small victories that often get discounted or missed altogether. 

We have no problem counting and recounting our failures. Our brains are hardwired to notice and attach itself to negative events. I talked at length about this in one of my favorite episodes from season 1, Rise and Shine. 

But we quite quickly, brush aside the small wins as insignificant when we should absolutely celebrate those small wins because they equate to steps forward. And if you don’t take the step immediately in front of you, all  the other steps after it don’t matter. 

If you break the big goal down into several small goals, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming or daunting.

I learned this from my high school soccer coach, Mark Winfree. We were getting our asses kicked in a very big game. The players on the other team were huge, physically dominating us and we were losing 3 to nothing.

We were pushing and making mistakes. Coach called a time out and brought us all to the bench. He said, listen… you guys are out of your zone. You’re trying to get three goals. I said, coach we’re losing 3 to nothing we need three goals.

He said, no. We don’t need three goals. We need one goal, three times. You guys know how to score one goal. Now go do it. One goal. Then, worry about the next one goal.

I know what you’re thinking. We pulled out the victory, raised coach Winfrey up on our shoulders, and stormed off the field. 

No. We lost 3 – 1. But… the lesson. That philosophy has stayed with me my whole life. 

In January of 2022, I got off a bus at the U.S / Mexico border with my loaded mountain bike hell-bent on riding the Baja Divide, a 1,500 mile route down the Baja Peninsula on some of the most remote and rugged mountainous terrain on the planet. 

By the time it was over, a rider would have climbed almost 100,000 feet of elevation, that’s Mount Everest… 5 times.

I woke up a few days into the trip after a 28-degree night in the mountains. My sleep system was rated for 40. Everything was soaking wet from condensation. My body was exhausted from 48 hours of little to no sleep and cold. I could barely get going. 

Once I got packed up, I told myself that I would ride one mile. Anyone can ride a mile. 

On a route where 30 to 40 miles over an entire day of riding is considered monumental, one mile is better than zero miles. I couldn’t allow myself to take a zero. 

So, I loaded up the bike and got going, legs full of lead. My back was spasming and each pedal rotation was agony, each small climb I came to triggered an immediate sense of defeat.

Again, it’s only a mile. Anyone can ride one mile. 

When my GPS showed that my mile goal was met, I said, one more mile. Anyone can ride one mile.

And when that mile was met, I said, one more. Like an inchworm, I measured the ground, inch by inch, foot by foot, mile by mile. 

By the end of that day, the day I was absolutely certain I couldn’t ride fifty yards, I managed 50 miles; through sand, rocks and 4 thousand feet of climbing. Small win.

Just like coach said, I didn’t need to ride 1,500 miles. I needed to ride one mile, fifteen hundred times. 

Simple, small wins trigger the reward center of your brain. They are fertilizer for your motivation. 

When we become motivated, we become energized. And when we’re energized, we’re more positive. Science proves this. 

It’s all connected, as is everything. When we’re more energized, we tend to be happier. We tend to engage and feel better about ourselve and therefore about the world around us. 

Don’t discount the small wins. And if you’re trying accomplish something, no matter how big or unattainable it appears to you break it down. 

Inchworm it. 

If you’re trying to quit smoking, don’t think about not smoking tomorrow or next week. Think about not smoking for the next hour. And the hour after that. 

If you want to lose ten pounds, don’t think about the ten pounds. Think about losing one pound. Then, lose that one pound ten times. 

Track your progress. I’m a big proponent of writing things down. Write yourself encouraging notes. Reward yourself. 

Change the way you view that word failure and focus more intently on the fact that you haven’t stopped trying.

One year ago to the day, I know exactly what was going on in my brain. I was incredibly anxious about launching this show. Uncertain if I could keep it up, could I come up with new material, compose new music. 

I was one of those guys looking at all the other shows that had been around one, five, ten years and thinking, man, I’m on my first episode. I’m so lame.

Now, here we are. One year down the road with a trail of crumbs that amounts to 43 episodes. 43 attempts. 43 stories that didn’t exist before. 43 markers that prove I haven’t stopped trying. 

I got WD 40 beat.

I’m coming for you Mr. Dyson. 

Thanks to all of you who supported the show. Thanks for listening, for sharing, and for sending encouraging emails. 

As always, you can find the back episodes over at themindunset.com or on Apple podcasts.

Until next time… be nice. Do good stuff. 


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