‘Paso a paso” in spanish is a phrase used to describe incremental progress. The phrase was made particularly famous in Argentina by Reinaldo “Mustard” Merlo, who in 2001 as coach of the Racing futbol club, lead the team to its first league title in 35 years using an approach he called “step by step” improvement. On our adventure, the phrase has been our motto as well as we try to incrementally improve on our situation.
Last week was a great example of how this approach pays off. Michele and I found ourselves more skilled with our Spanish and able to navigate slightly more complex situations. Jake went every day to school without a fuss as he continued to become more familiar with his surroundings and the language. Kate has begun building genuine friendships and is now being invited over to friends houses after school. She has also continued to improve in her horseback riding and has begun jumping in a canter.
The improvement is not always linear. There are days where it feels like we can’t understand a word in Spanish, but we do our best to remain focused on the trend line and not any single data point.
In a way, this aspect of our little adventure is a wonderful metaphor for life. Woody Allen said “80% of success is just showing up” and certainly it’s impossible to have success at something without putting the time into it. It’s also a good reminder that things that are worth doing are difficult, and, as a result, typically can’t be done quickly. Kate is continually asking when she will become fluent in Spanish. The best and most truthful answer is that we can’t tell her for sure, but we know that if she keeps working at it day after day, she will get there. Paso a paso.