CHANGING YOUR LIFE ONE ‘INCH’ AT A TIME: ‘Easy by the Inch, Hard by the Yard’

Written by William Pauwels on May 12, 2015

“Easy by the inch, hard by the yard.”
Sometime in my distant past, I learned this maxim and began to employ it as a personal strategy.
The first deliberate application of this “easy by the inch” approach that I can remember was the reading of books and articles that I didn’t want to read – but needed to read. 
I’m a slow reader and have always found reading difficult, i.e., hard work.  My comprehension was excellent – but my focus was lacking – and the effort was tiring.  Also, many subjects that I needed to master to advance my personal life and career were boring and failed to hold my attention. 
However, by reading a few pages each morning – of subject matter that I didn’t enjoy but needed to master – I was able to work my way through the unappealing stuff needed for success.  In fact, for over 10 years, I read six books each morning – mostly business related – to master the profession of management, leadership, and interpersonal relations.
Audiotapes were another “easy by the inch” source for self-development.  In the early ’60s, the cassette tape player was commercialized.  I bought my first Sony recorder/player for $250 in 1965 – a lot of money in those days.  I began to rent educational tapes from cassette tape lenders such as the Tape Rental Library and Books on Tape.  These  sources provided a steady stream of continuous learning material, while commuting, jogging, dressing, etc.  Frankly, I’ve come to realize that I learned more useful information from these two listening strategies over a 30 year period than from my University of Notre Dame education.
My “Little Red Book” was another “easy by the inch” exercise.  Somewhere along the line I heard that we already know almost everything we need to know to succeed, i.e., to achieve our goals and objectives – but that we’re not always smart enough to remember all that we know, when we need to apply it.  True or not, I liked the idea. I began to keep pocket journals (my Little Red Books) on things that I wanted to remember and to have at my mental fingertips when needed.  I actually compiled three “Little Red Books” over a 30 year period and reviewed them whenever I had time to kill.
Another “easy by the inch” strategy was the development of personal shorthand that enabled me to capture my thoughts and ideas by quickly and effortlessly writing them down.  Thus I could make notations, write letters and reports, and edit them before dictating a final draft.
Persistent praying is another “easy by the inch” effort that has helped me edge my way away from my many faults and toward more desirable virtues.  Needless to say, I’m still working on this approach and will hopefully get there before I meet my Maker. 
Yes! “easy by the inch” is a quick, easy and effective approach for achieving one’s goals and objectives if applied with discipline, foresight, and persistence.
In God we must trust . . . but we must always do our part – to secure and promote the truth and a better way – to protect our freedom and interests – and to defend the Judeo-Christian American-Way. 


William Pauwels
William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.