Slow and steady: an inspirational lesson from the pages of Success for Teens.

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The water hyacinth is one of the most beautiful and unusual plants on earth. A delicate flower with six petals, it ranges in color from blue to lavender to pink and floats on the surface of ponds in warm areas.

What makes the water hyacinth special is that it is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. A single water hyacinth can produce as many as 5,000 seeds and sends out short stems that become new plants. Over time a single water hyacinth continuously doubles itself--one plant becomes two, two plants become four, four plants become eight, and so on.

One day there was a very beautiful and very small water hyacinth growing near the edge of a big pond. Nobody ever noticed it. Nobody noticed when, on the second day, it had doubled. Nobody noticed the water hyacinths on the third or fourth day either. Although they kept doubling in numbers, the water hyacinths were so small on the big pond that you'd have to look closely to see them.

FOR TWO WEEKS, THE WATER HYACINTHS CONTINUED TO DOUBLE, BUT STILL COVERED ONLY ONE SMALL PART OF THE POND'S HUGE SURFACE. On Day 20, a person passing the pond noticed something floating along the shore, but mistook it for a lost towel or a discarded trash bag. But by Day 30, it was impossible to ignore the hyacinths because a blanket of beautiful flowers now covered the pond's entire surface. This compounding growth leads the plant to be considered a seriously invasive species, but that doesn't detract from the hyacinth's beauty.

Small actions might not seem like much at first, but over time...

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