Compounding Time

Did it Self

16 December 2018

You will not believe where you can get to, and what you can achieve, if in old age you are still exclaiming “did it self”.

My daughter is approaching two and quite likes to have a go at pretty much everything. From routine activities like putting her shoes on to trying to help out with the household chores. Often she fails, followed by “Daddy fix”, but sometimes she succeeds and does something for the first time. On these occasions we say to her with genuine pride: “You did it by yourself” which she translates to “did it self”.

Not a day goes by without “did it self”. It’s not the words themselves that convey the meaning, it’s the rising tone in her voice and big smile on her face after she has conquered yet another obstacle. With the confidence this brings she tries everything with the assumption that she will be successful. In the process, she discovers her limits; no, she can’t carry or even drag a fully loaded shopping bag, but to our surprise she can lift and walk with a 2kg bucket of yoghurt. Sometimes I wish she had more fear, particularly when we’re near cars, but most of the time I admire her boundless enthusiasm.

This week was her last playgroup for the year and to celebrate the occasion all of the kids were given a helium-filled balloon. My daughter was entranced and the smile on her face when it was tied to her wrist is something I wanted to capture forever. She wanted to take that balloon with her everywhere that day. By the evening though the balloon was no longer trying to push through the ceiling, it was content hanging in space. The next morning the balloon was lying on the floor, where it still remains. Soon it will leave our house destined for landfill. To recreate that same smile we could buy another balloon, but we would be committing to the same cycle, and this time without the novelty.

When we seek joy we are faced with two choices. A short-cut is presented to us almost everywhere we look: a slice of cake, a cold beer on a sweltering day, a new pair of shoes, a phone upgrade or shiny new car. While they deliver that initial hit of joy, it eventually fades, leaving us with increasing waistlines and debt. There is a longer road. It starts with frustration, failure and confusion. And then one day everything comes together and you find yourself doing something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t matter whether other people can do it, only that you haven’t. Then the next day you can try something new again, and the next. The more you do it the easier it gets because you know where the frustration will lead. You will not believe where you can get to, and what you can achieve, if in old age you are still exclaiming “did it self”.

Share your thoughts with me, write a letter to

Like the blog? Get it delivered to your inbox.