"Nobody ever achieved anything except in small steps, one after another. That stone mason who built the magnificent cathedral for others to enjoy, long after he'd gone, did so exactly like his colleagues: by squaring off stones and moving them — again and again and again.

"Small actions are important. Sufis teach that every act can be done for the Beloved. Others might choose to fold laundry as if it were the robes of Jesus or Buddha. Gandhi called these small acts 'blessed monotony'. His own great achievements developed slowly, and we know that he frequently sought reassurance from a passage in the Baghavad Gita, in which Lord Krishna urges us to practice karma yoga — to do work independently of the anticipated outcome.

"If we follow this advice, removing our focus from the end, a happy result is that we are less likely to use the end to justify questionable means. We make each step enjoyable and valuable in its own right. And by focusing properly on the small steps, we come to recognize them as what they are: mini-victories, each one giving us confidence to move on to the next challenge — just as protesters in Montgomery, Alabama, moved, gradually, from calling for minor changes to the rules about who sits where on local buses to demanding an end to segregation entirely; a previously unthinkable ambition.

"It's worth building a time into your schedule to focus on the mini-victories properly, and recognize their true worth. Make an appointment to ask yourself, at the end of each week, what you have achieved — and what you are looking forward to next week. This modest practice will benefit anybody."